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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Poems. IV. The Footsteps of the Flock

James Drummond Burns (1823–1864)

NOT always, Lord, in pastures green

The sheep at noon Thou feedest,

Where in the shade they lie

Within Thy watchful eye:

Not always under skies serene

The white-fleeced flock Thou leadest.

On rugged ways, with bleeding feet,

They leave their painful traces;

Through deserts drear they go,

Where wounding briers grow,

And through dark valleys, where they meet

No quiet resting-places.

Not always by the waters still,

Or lonely wells palm-hidden,

Do they find happy rest,

And, in Thy presence blest,

Delight themselves, and drink their fill

Of pleasures unforbidden.

Their track is worn on Sorrow’s shore,

Where windy storms beat ever—

Their troubled course they keep,

Where deep calls unto deep;

So going till they hear the roar

Of the dark-flowing river.

But wheresoe’er their steps may be,

So Thou their path be guiding,

O be their portion mine!

Show me the secret sign,

That I may trace their way to Thee,

In Thee find rest abiding.

Slowly they gather to the fold,

Upon Thy holy mountain,—

There, resting round Thy feet,

They dread no storm nor heat,

And slake their thirst where Thou hast rolled

The stone from Life’s full fountain.