Nonfiction > Verse > Ralph Waldo Emerson > The Complete Works > Poems
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882).  The Complete Works.  1904.
Vol. IX. Poems
II. May-Day and Other Pieces
Sung at the Second Church, at the Ordination of Rev. Chandler Robbins

WE 1 love the venerable house
  Our fathers built to God;—
In heaven are kept their grateful vows,
  Their dust endears the sod.
Here holy thoughts a light have shed        5
  From many a radiant face,
And prayers of humble virtue made
  The perfume of the place.
And anxious hearts have pondered here
  The mystery of life,        10
And prayed the eternal Light to clear
  Their doubts, and aid their strife.
From humble tenements around
  Came up the pensive train,
And in the church a blessing found        15
  That filled their homes again;
For faith and peace and mighty love
  That from the Godhead flow,
Showed them the life of Heaven above
  Springs from the life below.        20
They live with God; their homes are dust;
  Yet here their children pray,
And in this fleeting lifetime trust
  To find the narrow way.
On him who by the altar stands,        25
  On him thy blessing fall,
Speak through his lips thy pure commands,
  Thou heart that lovest all.
Note 1. Mr. Emerson wrote this hymn, to be sung at the ordination of his successor, the Rev. Chandler Robbins, as pastor of the Second Church of Boston, in 1831. He justly preferred it to one which he had written before, which, though cast aside, has so much that is pleasing that it is now printed in the Appendix. The accepted version of the hymn was not in the May-Day volume, but was included by Mr. Emerson among the Selected Poems. [back]

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