They presented gifts to Him. Matthew 2:11
Words: Clara H. Thwaites, Songs for Labour and Leisure (London: James Nisbet, 1885), pages 3–10, alt.
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They came from lands of orient light,
By glorious hopes inspired:
Their eyes had seen the Day-star bright,
By nations long desired;
What burning message from the skies
Had swept across each soul?
What midnight call had turned their eyes
To seek blest Israel’s goal?
Had captive exiles, weeping sore,
Zion’s Redeemer sung,
Till Zion’s song forevermore
Through alien lands had rung?
Had merchandise, with better things
Than frankincense for fame,
Wafted among those eastern kings
The fragrance of a name?
The name Emmanuel? did they yearn
To know His scepter’s rule?
And fain would sage or monarch learn
In favored Israel’s school?
Oh! songs of wonder rang of old
Across the waters blue,
When Egypt’s billows backward rolled
To let the tribes pass through!
And echoes of triumphant psalms,
And prayers for Zion’s king,
Still whispered, ’mid the desert palms,
From Israel, wandering.
A poet sang in grandest strain
Of Jacob’s Morning Star—
Of One whose still increasing reign
Should bless the nations far.
And while the tented warriors lay
In Moab’s plain below,
Prophetic lips, though tempted, may
Utter no word of woe.
He blessed the happy tribes! He saw
Where Judah crouched to spring—
The conquering Lion, He whose law
Subject the world should bring.
Then Arnon sang a thunder psalm
Amid his dark ravines!
While answering torrents broke the calm
Amid the somber pines.
And so the glad evangel crept,
As twilight into day;
And so the glad evangel swept
The gloom of night away.
And some it meets with meteor flash,
In midnight vigil giv’n,
And some it greets with cymbal clash,
And herald songs from Heav’n!
Let all who hear, obey! and rise
To greet the coming King—
With eastern pilgrims timely wise
Their eager homage bring!
They journeyed on. Moons waxed and waned,
Yet glowed faith’s deathless fires:
Vast plains were crossed, or ere they gained
The land of fond desires.
And pilgrim raptures greet them now,
The rippling fords they throng.
O winding Jordan, greet them now
With cataract and song!
Through dark ravine, where torrents leap,
Through gorge and keen crevasse,
The burdened camels climb the steep
Ascent of mountain pass.
The Holy Mount they view afar;
The rocky fastness gleams—
At last the longing pilgrims reach
The city of their dreams!
One thought is theirs, one eager quest,
The King—O where is He?
Though palace fair holds not such guest,
They yearn His face to see.
Ring out, prophetic song, and tell
Where Israel’s scepter lies!
And where the Prince of Peace may dwell,
Show, meteor in the skies!
They come! they come! A little child
With beckoning hand, doth call;
They bend before the Undefiled—
The Lord and God of all.
And gold and incense, treasures meet
For earth’s divinest king,
They pour in worship at His feet—
The Gentiles’ offering.
They learn the name of saving health,
By herald angels giv’n:
The world wide treasury of wealth
Outpoured from bounteous Heav’n
On us! For fellow heirs are we
With Zion. Who can tell
Our mercies, treasures, glories free—
What bring we to our saving God,
With heart and hand uplift?
O’er waste and wild the sages trod,
For worship and for gift.
O laggard race to own the King!
Closed hands shall work us woe!
Fleet foot and open hand would bring
The Church a swift inflow.
Yea, they would come from east, from west,
Obedient to Love’s call—
Would fly, as doves to seek their rest
Ere midnight shadows fall.
We lose by our withholding—choose
Fair lot apart from pain.
The life so saved, alas! we lose,
And Rachel mourns her slain.
We yield our treasures to the world,
Our sons for earthly fame,
Although our banner brave unfurled
Bears Christ’s victorious name.
Let Him take all! Fair childhood’s dreams,
And manhood’s forceful fires;
And let Him turn youth’s rapturous streams
To work His grand desires.
Let Him take all! Not yet we find
Wherewith to serve our Lord.
Let not a hoof be left behind,
According to His Word!
Return, calm age of simple need,
Wealth’s fullness boldly cast
At Christ’s own feet—if true our creed,
Of Love’s enthusiast!
He will be no man’s debtor! Swift
He’ll rain His gifts on thee;
Transmute to gold thy honest gift
By Heav’n’s own alchemy!
O Church of Christ! arise and prove
Thy unused wealth in Him;
Closed hands have shown thy waning love,
Thy faith and hope grown dim.
We see not yet what bright increase
May wait on homely gift;
His miracles shall never cease
To bless with answer swift.
We see not yet what undreamed powers
May spring from lowly faith;
Let us believe all things are ours,
For so the Master saith.
Still let the old heroic blood,
Which stirred in eastern sage,
Impel to eager, earnest mood
This doubting, selfish age.
And doubt, for idle dreamers meet,
And scorn, of darkness born,
Shall end in worship at His feet,
Who is our Star of Morn.