Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
IV. Sabbath: Worship: Creed
“Give me thy heart”
Adelaide Anne Procter (1825–1864)
 
WITH echoing steps the worshippers
  Departed one by one;
The organ’s pealing voice was stilled,
  The vesper hymn was done;
The shadow fell from roof and arch,        5
  Dim was the incensed air,
One lamp alone, with trembling ray,
  Told of the Presence there!
 
In the dark church she knelt alone;
  Her tears were falling fast;        10
“Help, Lord,” she cried, “the shades of death
  Upon my soul are cast!
Have I not shunned the path of sin,
  And chose the better part?”—
What voice came through the sacred air?—        15
  “My child, give me thy heart!”
 
“Have not I laid before thy shrine
  My wealth, O Lord?” she cried;
“Have I kept aught of gems or gold,
  To minister to pride?        20
Have I not bade youth’s joys retire,
  And vain delights depart?”—
But sad and tender was the voice,—
  “My child, give me thy heart!”
 
“Have I not, Lord, gone day by day        25
  Where thy poor children dwell;
And carried help, and gold, and food?
  O Lord, thou know’st it well!
From many a house, from many a soul,
  My hand bids care depart”:—        30
More sad, more tender was the voice,—
  “My child, give me thy heart!”
 
“Have I not worn my strength away
  With fast and penance sore?
Have I not watched and wept?” she cried;        35
  “Did thy dear saints do more?
Have I not gained thy grace, O Lord,
  And won in heaven my part?”—
It echoed louder in her soul,—
  “My child, give me thy heart!        40
 
“For I have loved thee with a love
  No mortal heart can show;
A love so deep my saints in heaven
  Its depths can never know:
When pierced and wounded on the cross,        45
  Man’s sin and doom were mine,
I loved thee with undying love,
  Immortal and divine!
 
“I loved thee ere the skies were spread;
  My soul bears all thy pains;        50
To gain thy love my sacred heart
  In earthly shrines remains:
Vain are thy offerings, vain thy sighs,
  Without one gift divine;
Give it, my child, thy heart to me,        55
  And it shall rest in mine!”
 
In awe she listened, as the shade
  Passed from her soul away;
In low and trembling voice she cried,—
  “Lord, help me to obey!        60
Break thou the chains of earth, O Lord,
  That bind and hold my heart;
Let it be thine and thine alone,
  Let none with thee have part.
 
“Send down, O Lord, thy sacred fire!        65
  Consume and cleanse the sin
That lingers still within its depths:
  Let heavenly love begin.
That sacred flame thy saints have known,
  Kindle, O Lord, in me,        70
Thou above all the rest forever,
  And all the rest in thee.”
 
The blessing fell upon her soul;
  Her angel by her side
Knew that the hour of peace was come;        75
  Her soul was purified;
The shadows fell from roof and arch,
  Dim was the incensed air,—
But peace went with her as she left
  The sacred Presence there!        80
 
 
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