The Fordington Pulpit


Written, in 1878, in the Church of the Author’s Baptism, and
where he first Ministered as his Father’s Curate.

Many voices yester-even
Made these walls and arches ring
With their high-sung hopes of Heaven,
And the glories of its King;
Now my footfall sounds alone
On the aisle’s long path of stone,
Save that yonder from the loft,
With a solemn tone and soft,
Beating on with muffled shock,
Conscience-waking, speaks the clock.
Holy scene, and dear as holy,
Let me ponder thee this hour,
Not in aimless melancholy,
But in quest of Heaven-given power;
Seeking here to win anew
Contrite love and purpose true;
Near the Font whose dew-drops cold
Fell upon my brow of old,
Near the well-remember’d seat
Set beside my Mother’s feet;
302Near the Table where I bent
At that earliest Sacrament.
Let me, through this narrow door,
Climb the Pulpit’s steps once more.
Blessed place! the Master’s Word,
Child and man, I hence have heard;
Awful place! for hence, in turn,
I have taught, so slow to learn.

To the silence now to hearken
Here I mount and stand alone,
While the spaces round me darken
And the Church is all my own;
While the sun’s last glories fall
From the window of the tower,
Tracing slow their parting hour
On the stones of floor and wall.
Seems a secret Voice to thrill
All the dusky air so still;
Turns a soul-compelling gaze
On me from the sunset haze:
Sure the eternal Shepherd’s hand
Beckons me awhile apart,
Bids me in His presence stand
While He looks me through the heart.
Sinful preacher, ask again
In this nearness of thy Lord,
How to Him has rung thy strain,
When it seem’d to speak His Word.
‘Midst thy brethren’s listening numbers
Hast thou felt, with heart sincere,
How, in thought that never slumbers,
This great Listener stood more near?—
Listening to His own high Name
Spoken by His creature’s breath;
How from out the Heavens He came,
How He pour’d His soul in death,
How He triumph’d o’er the grave,
How He lives on high to save,
How He yet again shall come,
Lord of glory and of doom.
Has He found thy message true?
Truth, and truly spoken too?
Utter’d with a purpose whole,
From a self-forgetful soul,
Bent on nothing save the fame
Of the dear redeeming Name,
And the pardon, life, and bliss
Of the souls He bought for His?
Think!—But ah, from thoughts like these
Hasten, sinner, to thy knees.


Handley Moule

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