The Old Church
By Margaret E. Sangster
It lifteth its gray old spire from the heart of the busy town,
Pointing the thoughts of the people from the things that bind men down—
Up from toil and temptation, and struggle for daily bread,
To the blessed Father in heaven, to whom our prayers are said,—
Who knoweth what we have need of before it passeth our lips,
Who pitieth and forgiveth our frailty and our slips!
A century and a quarter dream-like has flitted away
Since they laid the stone in the corner, one sunny summer day.
Grave men and stately matrons and rosy children stood,
While the minister sought a blessing for the church they built in the wood—
That thither, for peace and comfort, might throng from many lands
Those who should after worship in the house not made with hands.
As it rose in its fair proportions, higher from day to day,
In the shade of the forest round it, the children came to play!
To-day the birds are singing from their nests in the dusky eaves;
Then shook their matins and vespers out from the rustling leaves.
Vanished the quiet forest! In its place the restless town,
With its hive-like hum and bustle, its houses smoky and brown!
The church in its green enclosure has only room for graves,
And over the mossy tombstones the graceful willow waves!
Here sleep the men and women of a hundred years ago,
Folded in silent slumber, neath the sunlight and the snow.
Out from the grand old spire still tolls the bell for the dead;
Still merrily peals its music for the happy hearts of the wed.
From the ancient oaken pulpit the message of God is given,
And from Sabbath to Sabbath are sinners pointed to hope and heaven.
The mourner findeth comfort, the weary findeth calm;
And the sorely wounded spirit is soothed with Gilead’s balm.
Here the stranger’s eye may brighten as he sees the greeting word:
“Ever the stranger is welcome in the dwelling of the Lord!”
And the rich and poor together to mingle worship come
As the children of One Father—all bound for one sweet home.
Long may the dear old spire, from the heart of the busy town,
Lift the thought of the people from all that binds it down,—
From wealth they must leave behind them, when low they lie in the mold,
To the city whose walls are jasper, whose streets are paved with gold;
Where we hope at last to gather, lifting our songs of praise,
Where never a shade shall darken the sunlight of our days;
And no voices with tears along them shall tremble in the chord
Of the hallelujahs rising in that temple of the Lord.