St. Barnabas

 The sea of consolation, a Levite. Acts iv. 36.

~The Rev. John Keble


THE world’s a room of sickness, where each heart
Knows its own anguish and unrest;
The truest wisdom there, and noblest art,
Is his, who skills of comfort best;
Whom by the softest step and gentlest tone
Enfeebled spirits own,
And love to raise the languid eye,
When, like an angel’s wing, they feel him fleeting by:—

Feel only—for in silence gently gliding
Fain would he shun both ear and sight,
’Twixt Prayer and watchful Love his heart dividing,
A nursing-father day and night.
Such were the tender arms, where cradled lay,
In her sweet natal day,
The Church of JESUS; such the love
He to His chosen taught for His dear widowed Dove.

Warmed underneath the Comforter’s safe wing
They spread th’ endearing warmth around:
Mourners, speed here your broken hearts to bring,
Here healing dews and balms abound:
Here are soft hands that cannot bless in vain,
By trial taught your pain:
Here loving hearts, that daily know
The heavenly consolations they on you bestow.

Sweet thoughts are theirs, that breathe serenest calms,
Of holy offerings timely paid,
Of fire from heaven to bless their votive alms
And passions on GOD’S altar laid.
The world to them is closed, and now they shine
With rays of love divine,
Through darkest nooks of this dull earth
Pouring, in showery times, their glow of “quiet mirth.”

New hearts before their Saviour’s feet to lay,
This is their first, their dearest joy:
Their next from heart to heart to clear the way
For mutual love without alloy:
Never so blest as when in JESUS’ roll
They write some hero-soul,
More pleased upon his brightening road
To wait, than if their own with all his radiance glowed.

O happy spirits, marked by God and man
Their messages of love to bear,
What though long since in Heaven your brows began,
The genial amarant wreath to wear,
And in th’ eternal leisure of calm love
Ye banquet there above;
Yet in your sympathetic heart
We and our earthly griefs may ask and hope a part.

Comfort’s true sons! amid the thoughts of down
That strew your pillow of repose,
Sure ’tis one joy to muse, how ye unknown
By sweet remembrance soothe our woes;
And how the spark ye lit, of heavenly cheer,
Lives in our embers here,
Where’er the cross is borne with smiles,
Or lightened secretly by Love’s endearing wiles:

Where’er one Levite in the temple keeps
The watch-fire of his midnight prayer,
Or issuing thence, the eyes of mourners steeps
In heavenly balm, fresh gathered there;
Thus saints, that seem to die in earth’s rude strife,
Only win double life:
They have but left our weary ways
To live in memory here, in Heaven by love and praise.