Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
II. Prayer and Aspiration
Seasons of Prayer
Henry Ware, Jr. (1794–1843)
 
TO prayer, to prayer;—for the morning breaks,
And earth in her Maker’s smile awakes.
His light is on all below and above,—
The light of gladness, and life, and love.
Oh, then, on the breath of this early air        5
Send upward the incense of grateful prayer.
 
To prayer;—for the glorious sun is gone,
And the gathering darkness of night comes on;
Like a curtain from God’s kind hand it flows,
To shade the couch where his children repose.        10
Then kneel, while the watching stars are bright,
And give your last thoughts to the Guardian of night.
 
To prayer;—for the day that God has blest
Comes tranquilly on with its welcome rest.
It speaks of creation’s early bloom;        15
It speaks of the Prince who burst the tomb.
Then summon the spirit’s exalted powers,
And devote to Heaven the hallowed hours.
 
There are smiles and tears in the mother’s eyes,
For her new-born infant beside her lies.        20
Oh, hour of bliss! when the heart o’erflows
With rapture a mother only knows.
Let it gush forth in words of fervent prayer;
Let it swell up to Heaven for her precious care.
 
There are smiles and tears in that gathering band,        25
Where the heart is pledged with the trembling hand:
What trying thoughts in her bosom swell,
As the bride bids parents and home farewell!
Kneel down by the side of the tearful pair,
And strengthen the perilous hour with prayer.        30
 
Kneel down by the dying sinner’s side,
And pray for his soul through Him who died.
Large drops of anguish are thick on his brow;
Oh, what are earth and its pleasures now!
And what shall assuage his dark despair,        35
But the penitent cry of humble prayer?
 
Kneel down by the couch of departing faith,
And hear the last words the believer saith.
He has bidden adieu to his earthly friends;
There is peace in his eye that upward bends;        40
There is peace in his calm, confiding air;
For his last thoughts are God’s, his last words prayer.
 
The voice of prayer at the sable bier!
A voice to sustain, to soothe, and to cheer.
It commends the spirit to God who gave;        45
It lifts the thoughts from the cold, dark grave;
It points to the glory where he shall reign,
Who whispered, “Thy brother shall rise again.”
 
The voice of prayer in the world of bliss!
But gladder, purer, than rose from this.        50
The ransomed shout to their glorious King,
Where no sorrow shades the soul as they sing;
But a sinless and joyous song they raise,
And their voice of prayer is eternal praise.
 
Awake, awake! and gird up thy strength,        55
To join that holy band at length!
To Him who unceasing love displays,
Whom the powers of nature unceasingly praise,—
To Him thy heart and thy hours be given;
For a life of prayer is the life of Heaven.        60
 
 
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