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

By The Christian Year (1827). IX. “Bless’d are the pure in heart”

John Keble (1792–1866)

  • (The Purification)
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
  • —St. Matthew v. 8.

  • BLESS’D are the pure in heart,

    For they shall see our God,

    The secret of the Lord is theirs,

    Their soul is Christ’s abode.

    Might mortal thought presume

    To guess an angel’s lay,

    Such are the notes that echo through

    The courts of Heaven to-day.

    Such the triumphal hymns

    On Sion’s Prince that wait,

    In high procession passing on

    Towards His temple-gate.

    Give ear, ye kings—bow down,

    Ye rulers of the earth—

    This, this is He: your Priest by grace,

    Your God and King by birth.

    No pomp of earthly guards

    Attends with sword and spear,

    And all-defying, dauntless look,

    Their monarch’s way to clear;

    Yet are there more with Him

    Than all that are with you—

    The armies of the highest Heaven,

    All righteous, good, and true.

    Spotless their robes and pure,

    Dipped in the sea of light,

    That hides the unapproachèd shrine

    From men’s and angels’ sight.

    His throne, thy bosom blest,

    O mother undefiled—

    That throne, if aught beneath the skies,

    Beseems the sinless child.

    Lost in high thoughts, “whose son

    The wondrous Babe might prove,”

    Her guileless husband walks beside,

    Bearing the hallowed dove;

    Meet emblem of His vow,

    Who, on this happy day,

    His dove-like soul—best sacrifice—

    Did on God’s altar lay.

    But who is he, by years

    Bowed, but erect in heart,

    Whose prayers are struggling with his tears?

    “Lord, let me now depart.

    “Now hath Thy servant seen

    Thy saving health, O Lord;

    ’Tis time that I depart in peace,

    According to Thy word.”

    Yet swells the pomp: one more

    Comes forth to bless her God;

    Full fourscore years, meek widow, she

    Her heaven-ward way hath trod.

    She who to earthly joys

    So long had given farewell,

    Now sees, unlooked for, Heaven on earth,

    Christ in His Israel.

    Wide open from that hour

    The temple-gates are set,

    And still the saints rejoicing there

    The holy Child have met.

    Now count His train to-day,

    And who may meet Him, learn;

    Him child-like sires, meek maidens find,

    Where pride can nought discern.

    Still to the lowly soul

    He doth Himself impart,

    And for His cradle and His throne

    Chooseth the pure in heart.