St. Michael and All Angels

  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them
who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews i. 14.

~The Rev. John Keble


YE stars that round the Sun of righteousness
In glorious order roll,
With harps for ever strung, ready to bless
God for each rescued soul,
Ye eagle spirits, that build in light divine,
Oh! think of us to-day,
Faint warblers of this earth, that would combine
Our trembling notes with your accepted lay.

Your amarant wreaths were earned; and homeward all,
Flush’d with victorious might,
Ye might have sped to keep high festival,
And revel in the light;
But meeting us, weak worldlings, on our way,
Tired ere the fight begun,
Ye turned to help us in th’ unequal fray,
Remembering Whose we were, how dearly won:

Remembering Bethlehem, and that glorious night
When ye, who used to soar
Diverse along all space in fiery flight,
Came thronging to adore
Your God new-born, and made a sinner’s child;
As if the stars should leave
Their stations in the far ethereal wild,
And round the sun a radiant circle weave.

Nor less your lay of triumph greeted fair
Our Champion and your King,
In that first strife, whence Satan in despair
Sunk down on scathèd wing:
Abuse He fasted, and alone He fought;
But when His toils were o’er,
Ye to the sacred Hermit duteous brought
Banquet and hymn, your Eden’s festal store.

Ye too, when lowest in th’ abyss of woe
He plunged to save His sheep,
Were leaning from your golden thrones to know
The secrets of that deep:
But clouds were on His sorrow: one alone
His agonising call
Summoned from Heaven, to still that bitterest groan,
And comfort Him, the Comforter of all.

Oh! highest favoured of all Spirits create
(If right of thee we deem),
How didst thou glide on brightening wing elate
To meet th’ unclouded beam
Of Jesus from the couch of darkness rising!
How swelled thine anthem’s sound,
With fear and mightier joy weak hearts surprising,
“Your God is risen, and may not here be found!”

Pass a few days, and this dull darkling globe
Must yield Him from her sight;—
Brighter and brighter streams His glory-robe,
And He is lost in light.
Then, when through yonder everlasting arch,
Ye in innumerous choir
Poured, heralding Messiah’s conquering march,
Lingered around His skirts two forms of fire:

With us they stayed, high warning to impart;
“The Christ shall come again
E’en as He goes; with the same human heart,
With the same godlike train.”—
Oh! jealous God! how could a sinner dare
Think on that dreadful day,
But that with all Thy wounds Thou wilt be there,
And all our angel friends to bring Thee on Thy way?

Since to Thy little ones is given such grace,
That they who nearest stand
Alway to God in Heaven, and see His face,
Go forth at His command,
To wait around our path in weal or woe,
As erst upon our King,
Set Thy baptismal seal upon our brow,
And waft us heavenward with enfolding wing:

Grant. Lord, that when around th’ expiring world
Our seraph guardians wait,
While on her death-bed, ere to ruin hurled,
She owns Thee, all too late,
They to their charge may turn, and thankful see
Thy mark upon us still;
Then all together rise, and reign with Thee,
And all their holy joy o’er contrite hearts fulfil!