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

Christ in the Sepulchre

John Keble (1792–1866)

“As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.”—ZECH. IX. 11.

AT length the worst is o’er, and Thou art laid

Deep in Thy darksome bed:

All still and cold beneath yon dreary stone

Thy sacred form is gone;

Around those lips where power and mercy hung,

The dews of death have clung;

The dull earth o’er Thee, and Thy foes around,

Thou sleep’st a silent corse, in funeral fetters wound.

Sleep’st Thou indeed? or is Thy spirit fled,

At large among the dead?

Whether in Eden bowers Thy welcome voice

Wake Abraham to rejoice,

Or in some drearier scene Thine eye controls

The thronging band of souls;

That, as Thy blood won earth, Thine agony

Might set the shadowy realm from sin and sorrow free.

Where’er Thou roam’st, one happy soul, we know,

Seen at Thy side in woe

Waits on Thy triumph—even as all the blest

With him and Thee shall rest.

Each on his cross, by Thee we hang a while,

Watching Thy patient smile,

Till we have learned to say, “’Tis justly done,

Only in glory, Lord, Thy sinful servant own.”

Soon wilt Thou take us to Thy tranquil bower

To rest one little hour,

Till thine elect are numbered, and the grave

Call Thee to come and save:

Then on Thy bosom borne shall we descend,

Again with earth to blend,

Earth all refin’d with bright supernal fires,

Tinctur’d with holy blood, and wing’d with pure desires.

Meanwhile with every son and saint of Thine

Along the glorious line,

Sitting by turns beneath Thy sacred feet

We’ll hold communion sweet,

Know them by look and voice, and thank them all

For helping us in thrall,

For words of hope, and bright examples given

To show through moonless skies that there is light in heaven.

O come that day, when in this restless heart

Earth shall resign her part,

When in the grave with Thee my limbs shall rest,

My soul with Thee be blest!

But stay, presumptuous—Christ with thee abides

In the rock’s dreary sides:

He from the stone will wring celestial dew

If but the prisoner’s heart be faithful found and true.

When tears are spent, and thou art left alone

With ghosts of blessings gone,

Think thou art taken from the Cross, and laid

In Jesus’ burial shade;

Take Moses’ rod, the rod of prayer, and call

Out of the rocky wall

The fount of holy blood: and lift on high

Thy grovelling soul that feels so desolate and dry.

Prisoner of Hope thou art—look up and sing

In hope of promis’d spring.

As in the pit his father’s darling lay

Beside the desert way

And knew not how, but knew his God would save

E’en from that living grave,

So buried with our Lord, will close our eyes

To the decaying world, till Angels bid us rise.