MY Prayer-book is a casket bright,
With gold and incense stored,
Which, every day, and every night,
I open to the LORD:
Yet when I first unclasp its lids,
I find a bunch of myrrh
Embalming all our mortal life;
The Church's Calendar.
But who would see an almanac
When opes his Book of Prayer?
Of all the leaves between its lids,
These, only, are not fair!
So said I, in my thoughtless years,
But now, with awe, I scan
The Calendar, like Sybil-leaves
That tell the life of Man.
GOD set the sun and moon for signs:
The Church His signs doth know,
And here--while sleeps the sluggish world,
She marks them as they go.
Here for His coming looks she forth
As, for her spouse, the bride;
Here, at her lattice, faithfully
She waits the morning-tide.
All time is hers, and, at its end,
Her LORD shall come with more:
As one for whome all time was made,
Thus guardeth she her store;
And, doating o'er her letters old,
As pores the wife bereft,
Thus daily reads the Bride of CHRIST
Each message He hath left.
As prisoners notch their tally-stick,
And wait the far-off day,
So marks she days, and months, and years,
To ponder and to pray;
And year by year beginning new
Her faithful task sublime,
How lovingly she meeteth out
Each portion in its time
This little index of thy life,
Thou, all thy life, shalt find
So teaching thee to tell thy days,
That wisdom thou may'st mind.
Oh live thou by the Calendar;
And, when each morn you kneel,
Now how the numbered days go by,
Like spokes in Time's swift wheel.
With this thy closet seek; and learn
What strengthening word, to-day,
From out the Holy Book of GOD
Our Mother would display;
And know thy prayers go up on high,
With thousands that, unknown,
Are lighted at the self-same fire,
And mingle at God's throne.
For so--though severed far on earth--
Together we are fed;
And onward, though we see it not,
Together we are sped!
Oh live ye by the Calendar,
And with the good ye dwell;
The Spirit that comes down on them
Shall lighten you as well.