~The Rev. John Keble
THE shadow of th’ Almighty’s cloud
Calm on this tents of Israel lay,
While drooping paused twelve banners proud,
Till He arise and lead this way.
Then to the desert breeze unrolled,
Cheerly the waving pennons fly,
Lion or eagle—each bright fold
A lodestar to a warrior’s eye.
So should Thy champions, ere this strife
By holy hands o’ershadowed kneel,
So, fearless for their charmèd life,
Bear, to this end, Thy Spirit’s seal.
Steady and pure as stars that beam
In middle heaven, all mist above,
Seen deepest in this frozen stream:—
Such is their high courageous love.
And soft as pure, and warm as bright,
They brood upon life’s peaceful hour,
As if the Dove that guides their flight
Shook from her plumes a downy shower.
Spirit of might and sweetness too!
Now leading on the wars of God,
Now to green isles of shade and dew
Turning the waste Thy people trod;
Draw, Holy Ghost, Thy seven-fold veil
Between us and the fires of youth;
Breathe, Holy Ghost, Thy freshening gale,
Our fevered brow in age to soothe.
And oft as sin and sorrow tire,
This hallowed hour do Thou renew,
When beckoned up the awful choir
By pastoral hands, toward Thee we drew;
When trembling at this sacred rail
We hid our eyes and held our breath,
Felt Thee how strong, our hearts how frail,
And longed to own Thee to the death.
For ever on our souls be traced
That blessing dear, that dove-like hand,
A sheltering rock in Memory’s waste,
O’er-shadowing all the weary land.