Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
 
VI. Poems of Youth and Early Manhood (1823–1834)
Hymn
 
THERE 1 is in all the sons of men
A love that in the spirit dwells,
That panteth after things unseen,
And tidings of the future tells.
 
And God hath built his altar here        5
To keep this fire of faith alive,
And sent his priests in holy fear
To speak the truth—for truth to strive.
 
And hither come the pensive train
Of rich and poor, of young and old,        10
Of ardent youth untouched by pain,
Of thoughtful maids and manhood bold.
 
They seek a friend to speak the word
Already trembling on their tongue,
To touch with prophet’s hand the chord        15
Which God in human hearts hath strung.
 
To speak the plain reproof of sin
That sounded in the soul before,
And bid you let the angels in
That knock at meek contrition’s door.        20
 
A friend to lift the curtain up
That hides from man the mortal goal,
And with glad thoughts of faith and hope
Surprise the exulting soul.
 
Sole source of light and hope assured,        25
O touch thy servant’s lips with power,
So shall he speak to us the word
Thyself dost give forever more.

  June, 1831.
 
Note 1. In the main body of this volume is printed the hymn,
  We love the venerable house
Our fathers built to God,
which was sung at the ordination of Rev. Chandler Robbins, Mr. Emerson’s successor. The hymn here printed was probably the first trial for a fit utterance for that occasion. [back]
 
 
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