Project Canterbury

Christian Ballads

By A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.

New York: D. Appleton, 1865.


An altar of earth shalt thou make unto me.--Exodus.


GO where the mossy rock shall be
  Thy nature-hallowed shrine,
The leafy copse thy canopy,
  Its fringe, the gadding vine!
There let the clusters round that blush,
  Be sacramental Blood,
And fountains, by the feet that gush,
  Thy pure baptizing.


There let the snowy lawn be spread
  Upon the turfy mound:
There break the life-bestowing Bread,
  And bless the people round.
There, the green bush thy chancel-rail,
  Its cushion'd floor the sod,
Bid welcome, to the silvan pale,
  The kneeling host of GOD.


Look up, and fretted vaults are there,
  And heaven itself shines through,
Or evening is depictured fair,
  The starlight, and the blue!
A temple never built by hands,
  And many a shadowed aisle,
There--where the columned forest stands,
  Be thy cathedral pile!


There, are full choir and antiphon
  At lauds and vesper-time,
And ever niche rings unison
  With priestly voice, at prime:
There, shall thy solitary soul
  Find out its cloister dim,
With not the labouring organ's roll,
  But nature's gushing hymn.


There, the full flowers their odours fling
  To bid thee pour thy prayer,
And vines their fragrant censers swing
  O'er all the hallowed air.
Thy heart forth-flaming to the skies
  Shall like their breath be given,
And like consuming incense rise
  In sweetness up to heaven.


Go to the harvest-ripened West,
  Ye surpliced priests of GOD,
In all the Christian armour drest,
  And with the Gospel shod:
Go, for their feet are beautiful
  That on the mountain stand,
And, more than music, musical,
  The watchman's voice at hand.


Go, for the midnight wanes apace;
  The Sun himself is nigh!
Go to the wild and lonely place,
  And in the desert cry.
Go,--and the greenwoods are thy fanes,
  Thine altars--every sod:
Say to the wilderness, He reigns,
  Thy Saviour and thy GOD!


Lo! where the unsent heralds run,
  Why wait Thy priests, oh LORD!
These that were bid, from sun to sun,
  To preach the Gospel word?
Oh to Thine harvest, Saviour, send
  The hosts of Thine employ,
To reap the ripened sheaves that bend,
  And shout them home with joy!

Project Canterbury