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

By Psalms and Hymns for the Church (1883). X. “O All-surpassing Splendour!”

William Josiah Irons (1812–1883)

O ALL-SURPASSING Splendour!—one alone

Of earthly race hath seen that vision fair;

The present God, the rainbow round the throne,

And the elect, descending through the air,

His Tabernacle,—He their glorious light;

For in His presence there can be no night.

“All New,”—a higher world than had been made

In the past-workings of omnipotence,

Wills without sin,—Earth’s precious stones displayed

Tell faintly some Divine magnificence

Of that regenerate sphere, the pure abode

For sons and daughters of the Immortal God.

Those gates of pearl, those walls of burning light,

Those twelve foundations, with apostles’ names,

That golden pavement, burnished clear and bright,

Those mystic cherub wings with outspread flames,

The Tree of Life, by God’s own river laved,

Sustaining all the “nations of the saved.”

Ah, we sink down oppressed,—we cannot bear

The contact now of that high element!

We must be changed, and pass this lower air,

To learn Thy wonders, God Omnipotent.

Lord of our world to come. Thy piercing light

Transfigures all things to our longing sight.

And as we look through the dim-vistaèd years,

Watching Thee from Thy pure Incarnate Birth;

Vision on vision of Thy form appears,

Thou Who art fairer than the sons of earth;

And if we faint,—it is but for Thy sake,

To “Jesus only” would our souls awake.