Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 210. Flowers for the Altar
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
210. Flowers for the Altar
By Digby Mackworth Dolben  (1848–1867)

TELL us, tell us, holy shepherds,
  What at Bethlehem you saw.—
‘Very God of Very God
  Asleep amid the straw.’
Tell us, tell us, all ye faithful,        5
  What this morning came to pass
At the awful elevation
  In the Canon of the Mass.—
‘Very God of Very God,
  By whom the worlds were made,       10
In silence and in helplessness
  Upon the altar laid.’
Tell us, tell us, wondrous Jesu,
  What has drawn Thee from above
To the manger and the altar.—       15
  All the silence answers—Love.

Through the roaring streets of London
  Thou art passing, hidden Lord,
Uncreated, Consubstantial,
  In the seventh heaven adored.       20
As of old the ever-Virgin
  Through unconscious Bethlehem
Bore Thee, not in glad procession,
  Jewelled robe and diadem;
Not in pomp and not in power,       25
  Onward to Nativity,
Shrined but in the tabernacle
  Of her sweet Virginity.
Still Thou goest by in silence,
  Still the world cannot receive,       30
Still the poor and weak and weary
  Only, worship and believe.



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