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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

Christ at Emmaus

William Cowper (1731–1800)

IT happen’d on a solemn eventide,

Soon after He that was our surety died,

Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined,

The scene of all those sorrows left behind,

Sought their own village, busied as they went

In musings worthy of the great event:

They spake of Him they loved, of Him whose life,

Though blameless, had incurred perpetual strife,

Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile acts,

A deep memorial graven on their hearts.

The recollection, like a vein of ore

The farther traced, enrich’d them still the more;

They thought Him, and they justly thought Him, one

Sent to do more than He appear’d to have done;

To exalt a people, and to place them high

Above all else, and wondered He should die.

Ere yet they brought their journey to an end,

A stranger joined them, courteous as a friend,

And asked them, with a kind engaging air,

What their affliction was, and begged a share.

Inform’d, He gathered up the broken thread,

And, truth and wisdom gracing all He said,

Explained, illustrated, and searched so well

The tender theme on which they chose to dwell,

That, reaching home, the night, they said, is near,

We must not now be parted, sojourn here.—

The new acquaintance soon became a guest,

And made so welcome at their simple feast,

He bless’d the bread, but vanished at the word,

And left them both exclaiming, ’Twas the Lord!

Did not our hearts feel all He deign’d to say,

Did not they burn within us by the way?