Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Hymn for the Opening of Thomas Starr King’s House of Worship

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Western States: San Francisco, Cal.

Hymn for the Opening of Thomas Starr King’s House of Worship

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)


AMIDST these glorious works of thine,

The solemn minarets of the pine,

And awful Shasta’s icy shrine,—

Where swell thy hymns from wave and gale,

And organ-thunders never fail,

Behind the cataract’s silver veil,—

Our puny walls to thee we raise,

Our poor reed-music sounds thy praise:

Forgive, O Lord, our childish ways!

For, kneeling on these altar-stairs,

We urge thee not with selfish prayers,

Nor murmur at our daily cares.

Before thee, in an evil day,

Our country’s bleeding heart we lay,

And dare not ask thy hand to stay;

But, through the war-cloud, pray to thee

For union, but a union free,

With peace that comes of purity!

That thou wilt bare thy arm to save,

And, smiting through this Red Sea wave,

Make broad a pathway for the slave!

For us, confessing all our need,

We trust nor rite nor word nor deed,

Nor yet the broken staff of creed.

Assured alone that thou art good

To each, as to the multitude,

Eternal Love and Fatherhood,—

Weak, sinful, blind, to thee we kneel,

Stretch dumbly forth our hands, and feel

Our weakness is our strong appeal.

So, by these Western gates of Even

We wait to see with thy forgiven

The opening Golden Gate of Heaven!

Suffice it now. In time to be

Shall holier altars rise to thee,—

Thy Church our broad humanity!

White flowers of love its walls shall climb,

Soft bells of peace shall ring its chime,

Its days shall all be holy time.

A sweeter song shall then be heard,—

The music of the world’s accord

Confessing Christ, the Inward Word!

That song shall swell from shore to shore,

One hope, one faith, one love, restore

The seamless robe that Jesus wore.