Verse > Anthologies > W. Garrett Horder, ed. > The Poets’ Bible: New Testament
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W. Garrett Horder, comp.  The Poets’ Bible: New Testament.  1895.
 
The Circumcision of Christ
John Keble (1792–1866)
 
‘In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.’—COL. II. 11.

THE YEAR begins with Thee,
  And Thou beginn’st with woe,
To let the world of sinners see
  That blood for sin must flow.
 
Thine infant cries, O Lord,        5
  Thy tears upon the breast,
Are not enough—the legal sword
  Must do its stern behest.
 
Like sacrificial wine
  Pour’d on a victim’s head        10
Are those few precious drops of Thine,
  Now first to offering led.
 
They are the pledge and seal
  Of Christ’s unswerving faith
Given to His Sire, our souls to heal,        15
  Although it cost His death.
 
They to His Church of old,
  To each true Jewish heart
In Gospel graces manifold
  Communion blest impart.        20
 
Now of Thy love we deem
  As of an ocean vast,
Mounting in tides against the stream
  Of ages gone and past.
 
Both theirs and ours thou art,        25
  As we and they are Thine;
Kings, Prophets, Patriarchs—all have part
  Along the sacred line.
 
By blood and water too
  God’s mark is set on Thee,        30
That in Thee every faithful view
  Both covenants might see.
 
O bond of union, dear
  And strong as is thy grace!
Saints parted by a thousand year,        35
  May thus in heart embrace.
 
Is there a mourner true,
  Who, fallen on faithless days,
Sighs for the heart-consoling view
  Of those Heaven deign’d to praise?        40
 
In spirit may’st thou meet
  With faithful Abraham here,
Whom soon in Eden thou shalt greet,
  A nursing Father dear.
 
Would’st thou a Poet be?        45
  And would thy dull heart fain
Borrow of Israel’s minstrelsy
  One high enraptured strain?
 
Come here thy soul to tune,
  Here set thy feeble chant,        50
Here, if at all beneath the moon,
  Is holy David’s haunt.
 
Art thou a child of tears,
  Cradled in care and woe?
And seems it hard, thy vernal years        55
  Few vernal joys can show?
 
And fall the sounds of mirth
  Sad on thy lonely heart,
From all the hopes and charms of earth
  Untimely called to part?        60
 
Look here, and hold thy peace:
  The Giver of all good
Even from the womb takes no release
  From suffering, tears, and blood.
 
If thou would’st reap in love,        65
  First sow in holy fear:
So life a winter’s morn may prove
  To a bright endless year.
 
 
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