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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Saint of Yore

By John Vance Cheney (1848–1922)

THERE lived of yore a saintly dame,

Retired of life, unknown to fame,

Whose wont it was with sweet accord

To do the bidding of her Lord.

In quaintly-fashioned bonnet

With simplest ribbons on it,

The neighboring folk remember well

How prompt she was at Sabbath bell.

I see her now—her decent shawl,

Her sober gown, silk mitts, and all;

Again I see her with a smile

Pass meekly up the narrow aisle.

The deacons courtly meet her,

The pastor turns to greet her,

And maid and matron quit their place

To find her fan or smooth her lace.

Of all the souls that worshipped there,

She best became the House of Prayer;

Her gracious presence—from it beamed

The light that robes the Lord’s redeemed.

That gentle mien did often

Some “hardened sinner” soften,

Whose thought had else turned light away

From rigid lesson of the day.

Her eyes, with reverent reading dim,

Sought neither chapter-page nor hymn,

She knew them both; and as in song

Her voice kept evenly along,

’Twas not so much like singing

As like the music clinging

About some sacred instrument,

Its lessening breath not wholly spent.

Still, one by one, the good folk fill

The little church upon the hill—

The little church with open door,

Just as it stood in days of yore,

The grass around it growing

For nearest neighbors’ mowing.

The row of battered sheds behind

Ready to rattle with the wind.

Old Groveland Church! I mark it well,

From weathered steps to belfry bell.

Few changes there; but in yon ground

Have thickened fast the slab and mound.

Hark! Shall I join the praises?

Rather, among the daisies,

Let me, in peaceful thought, once more

Be silent with the saint of yore.