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Luke 23:55,56 by Heidi Zartman

‘The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.’ (Luke 23:55,56)

How sweet, but bittersweet — before the dawn
Of the first day, to have rested
With God while His body lay in
Joseph’s tomb. As earth’s last Sabbath crested

Over Friday’s light, they had prepared their
Spices and their ointments for the
Burial — then wrought with despair,
That tense pause while He slept so tranquilly.

Since time began they had observed the rest
Of God. Now it lay all around
Them, as His Sabbath coalesced
With ours concretely. But how profound

His was — how disturbed, shattered, anxious must
Have been the women’s — til they wished
To wake Him as we waked Him once
On Galilee: ‘Carest thou not we perish?’

So little could they understand how sweet
And singular a thing occurs
When God’s respite comes, replete
To this convergence — for He rested with us

Perfectly. His labor had been finished:
He had only to fulfil our
Sabbath til our night diminished,
And He rose to wake His troubled sleepers.

by Heidi Zartman

Isaiah 11:8 by Heidi Zartman

‘The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.’ (Isaiah 11:8)

Now on my wall, a child gathers gold leaves
Quietly over buried Salem —
Bending where someone grieved,
Unconscious of that history —
Of her strange newness in old pain —
Of someone’s memory gathering her from the debris
Of gravestone, earth’s manifold vein
Of hope.

The graveyard, so I read, is haunted by a witches’ ghost,
Witnessed in images.
And on my wall the spirit of an innocence
Kneels artlessly,
Head bowed, in modern clothes,
Oblivious of her phantom nature
In their centuries —
Gathering from their fall a vivid shape,
Unaware of hers.

by Heidi Zartman

Jamie by S. Dryden Phelps (1860)

sdryden(this poem was written by Phelps’ while he was in Egypt and he found out that his young son died back home, and also realized that on the very day of his funeral, he unknowingly preached a sermon on “God shall wipe away all tears”)

On Egypt’s far famed River, wondrous Nile!
Where many a Pyramid sublime appears,
Crowned with the glory of three thousand years,
While Time still fails to waste each mountain pile,
We sail where Pharaoh’s place rose so fair,
And MOSES was concealed and found in fears,
The Sabbath comes; our boat’s a place of prayer;

My text: “And God shall wipe away all tears.”
We wept. That day my darling boy at home,
Too bright and beautiful for earth and sin,
From midst my weeping flock, GOD’S house within,
Was borne, in form so lovely, to the tomb.
I heard at length— Oh JAMIE! full of charms
How could I give thee up, save into JESUS’ arms!

by S. Dryden Phelps (1860)

Recollections of Childhood by S. Dryden Phelps (1842)

How blest the glad hours that were spent in my childhood,
While roaming with joy in the warm summer air,
By the mead, and the fountain, the hillock, and wild-wood,sdryden
When youthful companions attended me there.

The scenes of my childhood I fondly remember,
When summer, and winter, and day after day,
We hasted to school, ‘mid the winds of December,
Or rambled among the wild flowerets of May.

How cheerful the evenings when sitting together,
With brothers, and sisters, and parents so dear–
We told pleasing tales while the cold wintry weather
Beat loud on the windows, and snow filled the air.

How oft, when alone, I recall recollections
Of happier scenes in my earliest day–
Of social enjoyments with friends and connexions,
Now sleeping in silence, or far, far away.

Those sweet sunny seasons, oh, who will restore me?
Alas, for their absence–they ne’er will return:
Though long since departed, they seem still before me,
And yet shall remain in fond Memory’s urn.

by S. Dryden Phelps (1842)

Aspiration by Lemuel Covell

One happy evening calm and bright
The world stood silent by,
My muse arose and took her flight
To reach the lofty sky.

My soul on airy pinions flew,
And joyful clapt her wings,
And soared aloft to take a view
Of sweet, celestial things.

Thro’ climes and worlds before unknown,
She reached the happy plains,
Where on a high, majestic throne,
My smiling Jesus reigns.

There the eternal Father sits;
And there the sacred Dove;
All meaner joy my soul forgets,
To take her fill of love.

There hymning seraphs chant their songs,
With ever new delight,
There I beheld angelic throngs,
In robes divinely bright.

There saints in countless numbers be,
Who once were here below,
Complaining pilgrims like to me,
Now freed from all their woe.

No more they mourn a languid frame,
Nor fears nor foes prevail;
Their love breaks out in quenchless flame;
Their joys can never fail.

Their harps can never be unstrung,
So near the Great Supreme;
I listened to the notes they sung,
And Jesus was their theme.

They at the fountain head of bliss,
Drink ever fresh supplies;
No joy to be compared with this,
That’s found beneath the skies.

Why must I grovel here below,
Where sin and sorrow meet,
And scarce a drop of comfort know,
While theirs is bliss complete.

Yet, happy souls, I would not ask
To take your seats above;
I am unequal to your task
Of service, praise and love.

Beneath your feet some humble place,
Will set my heart at rest;
Only the nearer Jesus’ face,
The more divinely blest.

My all dependent on his smiles,
And centered in his love;
Not earth nor hell with all their wiles
Shall e’er my soul remove.

I’ll wait my heavenly Father’s will,
And stay till He shall please,
My warmest wishes to fulfill,
And grant a sweet release.

Then I’ll recline my weary head,
And bid the world adieu;
And leave my flesh among the dead,
To love and sing with you.

The Triumphs of Grace in the Wilderness by Lemuel Covell (1803)

From the realms where the day her first dawnings extends,
The Son of the gospel, in glory ascends!
Ye forests attend, while your children combine
In accents unusual, in transports divine.

Involv’d in uncertainty, darkness and death,
The clouds of destruction hung over our path,
Till yon rising splendor enlightened our way,
And pointed our steps to the regions of day.

A council, on high, has been held, to enquire
For help for mankind; and peace kindled the fire.
Provision is made for the nations distress’d;
And with the rich treasure, all lands be bless’d.

The chain of salvation, let down from above,
Cemented by justice, and brightened by love:
The safety of hope, the conductor of grace,
Joins heaven and earth in its mighty embrace.

On high see our Jesus, the penitent’s friend,
With banners of mercy, compassionate bend;
Inviting the wretched, rebellious and vile,
From ruin to flee, and repose in his smile.

The Prince of Salvation is coming, prepare
A way in the desert, his blessings to share:
He comes to relieve us from sin and from woes,
And bid the dark wilderness bud like the rose.

His reign shall extend from the east to the west,
Compose all the tumults of nature to rest,
The day-spring of glory illumines the skies,
And ages on ages of happiness rise.

The brute-hearted tempers of men shall grow tame,
The wolf and the lion lie down with the lamb;
The bear with the kine shall contentedly feed,
While children their young ones, in harmony lead.

The serpent shall dart all his venom in vain,
The rattle-snake, harmless, shall bask on the plain;
The infant shall play on the hole of the asp,
And, smiling, the folds of the cockatrice grasp.

No more shall the sound of the war-whoop be heard,
The ambush and slaughter, be no longer fear’d;
The tomahawk, buried, shall rust in the ground,
While peace and good will to the nations abound.

All spirit of war, to the gospel shall bow,
The bow lie, unstrung, at the tail of the plough;
To prune the young orchards, the spear shall be bent;
And loving the the world with a smile of content.

Slight tinctures of skin shall no longer engage,
The fury of jealous, murder and rage;
The white and the red shall, in friendship be join’d,
Wide spreading benevolences over mankind.

Hail! scene of felicity, transport and joy!
Where sin and vexation shall scarcely annoy:
Rich blessings of grace, from above, shall be giv’n,
And life only serve for a passage to heav’n!

Roll forward, dear Savior, roll forward the day
When all shall submit and rejoice in thy sway:
When white men and Indians, united in praise,
One vast hallelujah, triumphant, shall raise!

by  Lemuel Covell (1803)