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

The Circumcision of Christ

John Keble (1792–1866)

‘In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.’—COL. II. 11.

THE YEAR begins with Thee,

And Thou beginn’st with woe,

To let the world of sinners see

That blood for sin must flow.

Thine infant cries, O Lord,

Thy tears upon the breast,

Are not enough—the legal sword

Must do its stern behest.

Like sacrificial wine

Pour’d on a victim’s head

Are those few precious drops of Thine,

Now first to offering led.

They are the pledge and seal

Of Christ’s unswerving faith

Given to His Sire, our souls to heal,

Although it cost His death.

They to His Church of old,

To each true Jewish heart

In Gospel graces manifold

Communion blest impart.

Now of Thy love we deem

As of an ocean vast,

Mounting in tides against the stream

Of ages gone and past.

Both theirs and ours thou art,

As we and they are Thine;

Kings, Prophets, Patriarchs—all have part

Along the sacred line.

By blood and water too

God’s mark is set on Thee,

That in Thee every faithful view

Both covenants might see.

O bond of union, dear

And strong as is thy grace!

Saints parted by a thousand year,

May thus in heart embrace.

Is there a mourner true,

Who, fallen on faithless days,

Sighs for the heart-consoling view

Of those Heaven deign’d to praise?

In spirit may’st thou meet

With faithful Abraham here,

Whom soon in Eden thou shalt greet,

A nursing Father dear.

Would’st thou a Poet be?

And would thy dull heart fain

Borrow of Israel’s minstrelsy

One high enraptured strain?

Come here thy soul to tune,

Here set thy feeble chant,

Here, if at all beneath the moon,

Is holy David’s haunt.

Art thou a child of tears,

Cradled in care and woe?

And seems it hard, thy vernal years

Few vernal joys can show?

And fall the sounds of mirth

Sad on thy lonely heart,

From all the hopes and charms of earth

Untimely called to part?

Look here, and hold thy peace:

The Giver of all good

Even from the womb takes no release

From suffering, tears, and blood.

If thou would’st reap in love,

First sow in holy fear:

So life a winter’s morn may prove

To a bright endless year.