Good Friday by John Klebe

He is despised and rejected of men.  Isaiah liii. 3.

   Is it not strange, the darkest hour
      That ever dawned on sinful earth
   Should touch the heart with softer power
      For comfort than an angel’s mirth?
That to the Cross the mourner’s eye should turn
Sooner than where the stars of Christmas burn?

   Sooner than where the Easter sun
      Shines glorious on yon open grave,
   And to and fro the tidings run,
      “Who died to heal, is risen to save?”
Sooner than where upon the Saviour’s friends

The very Comforter in light and love descends?

   Yet so it is: for duly there
      The bitter herbs of earth are set,
   Till tempered by the Saviour’s prayer,
      And with the Saviour’s life-blood wet,
They turn to sweetness, and drop holy balm,
Soft as imprisoned martyr’s deathbed calm.

   All turn to sweet—but most of all
      That bitterest to the lip of pride,
   When hopes presumptuous fade and fall,
      Or Friendship scorns us, duly tried,
Or Love, the flower that closes up for fear
When rude and selfish spirits breathe too near.

   Then like a long-forgotten strain
      Comes sweeping o’er the heart forlorn
   What sunshine hours had taught in vain
      Of Jesus suffering shame and scorn,
As in all lowly hearts he suffers still,
While we triumphant ride and have the world at will.

   His piercèd hands in vain would hide
      His face from rude reproachful gaze,
   His ears are open to abide
      The wildest storm the tongue can raise,
He who with one rough word, some early day,
Their idol world and them shall sweep for aye away.

   But we by Fancy may assuage
      The festering sore by Fancy made,
   Down in some lonely hermitage
      Like wounded pilgrims safely laid,
Where gentlest breezes whisper souls distressed,
That Love yet lives, and Patience shall find rest.

   O! shame beyond the bitterest thought
      That evil spirit ever framed,
   That sinners know what Jesus wrought,
      Yet feel their haughty hearts untamed—
That souls in refuge, holding by the Cross,
Should wince and fret at this world’s little loss.

   Lord of my heart, by Thy last cry,
      Let not Thy blood on earth be spent—
   Lo, at Thy feet I fainting lie,
      Mine eyes upon Thy wounds are bent,
Upon Thy streaming wounds my weary eyes
Wait like the parchèd earth on April skies.

   Wash me, and dry these bitter tears,
      O let my heart no further roam,
   ’Tis Thine by vows, and hopes, and fears.
      Long since—O call Thy wanderer home;
To that dear home, safe in Thy wounded side,
Where only broken hearts their sin and shame may hide.


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