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Christian Year
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MATRIMONY

There is an awe in mortals’ joy,

A deep mysterious fear

Half of the heart will still employ,

As if we drew too near

To Eden’s portal, and those fires

That bicker round in wavy spires,

Forbidding, to our frail desires,

What cost us once so dear.

We cower before th’ heart-searching eye

In rapture as its pain;

E’en wedded Love, till Thou be nigh,

Dares not believe her gain:

Then in the air she fearless springs,

The breath of Heaven beneath her wings,

And leaves her woodnote wild, and sings

A tun’d and measur’d strain.

Ill fare the lay, though soft as dew

And free as air it fall,

That, with Thine altar full in view,

Thy votaries would enthrall

To a foul dream, of heathen night,

Lifting her torch in Love’s despite,

And scaring with base wild-fire light

The sacred nuptial hall.

Far other strains, far other fires,

Our marriage-offering grace;

Welcome, all chaste and kind desires,

With even matron pace

Approaching down this hallow’d aisle!

Where should ye seek Love’s perfect smile,

But where your prayers were learned erewhile,

In her own native place?

Where, but on His benignest brow,

Who waits to bless you here?

Living, he own’d no nuptial vow,

No bower to Fancy dear:

Love’s very self — for Him no need

To nurse, on earth, the heavenly seed:

Yet comfort in His eye we read

For bridal joy and fear.

’Tis He who clasps the marriage band,

And fits the spousal ring,

Then leaves ye kneeling, hand in hand,

Out of His stores to bring

His Father’s dearest blessing, shed

Of old on Isaac’s nuptial bed,

Now on the board before ye spread

Of our all-bounteous King.

All blessings of the breast and womb,

Of Heaven and earth beneath,

Of converse high, and sacred home,

Are yours, in life and death.

Only kneel on, nor turn away

From the pure shrine, where Christ to-day

Will store each flower, ye duteous lay,

For an eternal wreath.

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