Project Canterbury

Christian Ballads

By A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.

New York: D. Appleton, 1865.



WHEN old Canute the Dane
  Was merry England's king;
A thousand years agone, and more,
  As ancient rymours sing;
His boat was rowing down the Ouse,
  At eve, one summer day,
Where Ely's tall cathedral peered
  Above the glassy way.


Anon, sweet music on his ear,
  Comes floating from the fane,
And listening, as with all his soul,
  Sat old Canute the Dane.
And reverent did he doff his crown,
  To join the clerkly prayer,
While swelled old lauds and litanies
  Upon the stilly air.


Now, who shall glide on Hudson's breast,
  At eve of summer day,
And cometh where St. Peter's tower
  Peers o'er his coasting way:
A moment, let him slack his oar,
  And speed more still along,
His ears shall catch those very notes
  Of litany and song.


The Church that sung those anthem prayers
  A thousand years ago,
Is singing yet by silver Cam,
  And here by Hudson's flow:
And GLORIAS that thrilled the heart
  Of old Canute the Dane,
Are rising yet, at morn and eve,
  From Chelsea's student train.


  Those ancient scholars sung,
  The vaulted alleys rung:
And our gray pile with tremble oft
  Beneath the organ's roar,
When here those very matin-songs
  With high TE DEUM pour.


And where are kings and empires now,
  Since then, that went and came?
But holy Church is praying yet,
  A thousand years the same!
And these that sing shall pass away;
  New choirs their room shall fill:
Be sure thy children's children here
  Shall hear those anthems still.


For not like kingdoms of the world
  The holy Church of GOD!
Though earthquake-shocks be rocking it,
  And tempest is abroad;
Unshaken as eternal hills,
  Unmovable it stands,
A mountain that shall fill the earth,
  A fane unbuilt by hands.


Though years fling ivy over it,
  Its cross peers high in air,
And reverend with majestic age,
  Eternal youth is there!
Oh mark her holy battlements,
  And her foundations strong;
And hear, within, her ceaseless voice,
  And her unending song!


Oh ye, that in these latter days
  The citadel defend,
Perchance for you, the Saviour said
  I'm with you--to the end:
Stand therefore girt about, and hold
  Your burning lamps in hand,
And standing, listen for your LORD,
  And till He cometh--stand!


The gates of hell shall ne'er prevail
  Against our holy home,
But oh be wakeful sentinels,
  Until the Master come!
The night is spent--but listen ye;
  For on its deepest calm,
What marvel if the cry be heard,
  The marriage of the Lamb!

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