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

John Baptizing Christ

From the Parisian Breviary

Translated by Isaac Williams

WHY linger’st thou, great John? thy Lord commands;

Yea, He who washes souls with living fires

More pure than liquid lightnings, He requires

And bears the cleansing river from thy hands.

How sunk thy soul, when there in Jordan’s bed

He bow’d His head, before thee all unmeet

To take the sandals from His sacred feet,

Before thee bow’d His more than holy head!

See from the heavens, descending like a dove,

There hovers now a brightly-glowing cloud;

The unutterable voice is heard aloud,

The awful Three in One, below, above.

But thou art bent to preach the avenging rod

Of justice, and, the flag of peace unfurl’d,

The victim come to cleanse the guilty world,—

To point out the unspotted Lamb of God.

Careless of thine own honour, thou to cease

Didst hasten, like the star before the day,

Willing thyself to vanish hence away,—

’Tis meet that thou depart, and He increase.

But not alone shalt thou with thy life’s breath

Bear witness,—one thing yet to thee remains,

Boldly the truth to speak, and bear the chains,

And go before thy Lord in murderous death.

In Thee our strains shall end, Thee ever sing,

The eternal Father, and the eternal Son,

And the eternal Spirit, Three in One,

Whom Heaven and earth adore, sole God and King.