When He putteth forth his own sheep, He goeth before them. John 10:4
“Lord, in Thy field I work all day,
I read, I teach, I warn, I pray,
And yet these willful wandering sheep
Within Thy fold I cannot keep.
I journey, yet no step is won—
Alas! the weary course I run!
Like sailors shipwrecked in their dreams
All powerless and benighted seems.
What? wearied out with half a life?
Scared with this smooth unbloody strife?
Think where thy coward hopes had flown,
Had Heaven held out the martyr’s crown.
How couldst thou hang upon the cross,
To whom a weary hour is loss?
Or how the thorns and scourging brook,
Who shrinkest from a scornful look?
Yet ere thy craven spirit faints,
Hear thine own king, the King of saints;
Though thou wert toiling in the grave,
’Tis He can cheer thee, He can save.
He is th’ eternal mirror bright,
Where angels view the Father’s light,
And yet in Him the simplest swain
May read his homely lesson plain.
Early to quit His home on earth,
And claim His high celestial birth,
Alone with His true Father found
Within the temple’s solemn round:
Yet in meek duty to abide
For many a year at Mary’s side,
Nor heed, though restless spirits ask,
What? hath the Christ forgot His task?
Conscious of Deity within,
To bow before an heir of sin,
With folded arms on humble breast,
By His own servant washed and blest:
With hymns of angels in His ears,
Back to His task of woe and tears,
Unmurmuring through the world to roam
With not a wish or thought of home:
All but Himself to heal and save,
Till ripened for the cross and grave,
He to His Father gently yield
The breath that our redemption sealed:
Then to unearthly life arise,
Yet not at once to seek the skies,
But glide away from saint to saint,
Lest on our lonely way we faint;
And through the cloud by glimpses show
How bright, in Heaven, the marks will glow
Of the true cross, imprinted deep
Both on the Shepherd and the sheep:
When out of sight, in heart and prayer
Thy chosen people still to bear,
And from behind Thy glorious veil,
Shed light that cannot change or fail:
This is Thy pastoral course, O Lord,
Till we be saved, and Thou adored;
Thy course and ours—but who are they
Who follow on the narrow way?
And yet of Thee from year to year
The Church’s solemn chant we hear,
As from Thy cradle to Thy throne
She swells her high heart-cheering tone.
Listen, ye pure white robèd souls,
Whom in her list she now enrolls,
And gird yet from your high emprise
By these her thrilling minstrelsies.
And wheresoe’er, in earth’s wide field,
Ye lift, for Him, the red-cross shield,
Be this your song your joy and pride—
Our champion went before and died.