the archivist April 19, 2006

Frances Ridley Havergal

Oh, the compensating springs! Oh, the balance-wheels of life,
Hidden away in the workings under the seeming strife!
Slowing the fret and the friction, weighting the whirl and the force,
Evolving the truest power from each unconscious source.

How shall we gauge the whole, who can only guess a part?
How can we read the life, when we cannot spell the heart?
How shall we measure another, we who can never know
From the juttings above the surface the depth of the vein below?

Even our present way is known to ourselves alone,
Height and abyss and torrent, flower and thorn and stone;
But we gaze on another’s path as a far-off mountain scene,
Scanning the outlined hills, but never the vales between.

How shall we judge their present, we who have never seen
That which is past for ever, and that which might have been?
Measuring by ourselves, unwise indeed are we,
Measuring what we know by what we can hardly see.

Ah! if we knew it all, we should surely understand
That the balance of sorrow and joy is held with an even hand;
That the scale of success or loss shall never overflow,
And that compensation is twined with the lot of high and low.

The easy path in the lowland hath little of grand or new,
But a toilsome ascent leads on to a wide and glorious view;
Peopled and warm is the valley, lonely and chill the height,
But the peak that is nearer the storm-cloud is nearer the stars of light.

Launch on the foaming stream that bears you along like a dart, —
There is danger of rapid and rock, there is tension of muscle and heart;
Glide on the easy current, monotonous, calm, and slow,
You are spared the quiver and strain in the safe and quiet flow.

Oh, the sweetness that dwells in a harp of many strings,
While each, all vocal with love, in tuneful harmony rings!
But oh, the wail and the discord, when one and another is rent,
Tensionless, broken, or lost, from the cherished instrument.

For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss,
And the hand that takes the crown must ache with many a cross;
Yet he who hath never a conflict hath never a victor’s palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.

Only between the storms can the Alpine traveler know
Transcendent glory of clearness, marvels of gleam and glow;
Had he the brightness unbroken of cloudless summer days,
This had been dimmed by the dust and the veil of a brooding haze.

Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know,
The finest quiver of joy or the agony-thrill of woe?
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.

Great is the peril or toil if the glory or gain be great;
Never an earthly gift without responsible weight;
Never a treasure without-a following shade of care;
Never a power without the lurk of a subtle snare.

For the swift is not the safe, and the sweet is not the strong;
The smooth is not the short, and the keen is not the long;
The much is not the most, and the wide is not the deep;
And the flow is never a spring, when the ebb is only neap.

Then hush! oh, hush! for the Father knows what thou knowest not,
The need and the thorn and the shadow linked with the fairest lot;
Knows the wisest exemption from many an unseen snare,
Knows what will keep thee nearest, knows what thou could’st not bear.

Hush! oh, hush! for the Father portioneth as he will
To all his beloved children, and shall they not be still?
Is not his will the wisest, is not his choice the best?
And in perfect acquiescence is there not perfect rest?

Hush! oh, hush! for the Father, whose ways are true and just,
Knoweth and careth and loveth, and waits for thy perfect trust;
The cup he is slowly filling shall soon be full to the brim,
And infinite compensations forever be found in him.

Hush, oh, hush! for the Father hath fullness of joy in store,
Treasures of power and wisdom, and pleasures for ever­ more;
Blessing and honor and glory, endless, infinite bliss; —
Child of his love and his choice, oh, cant thou not wait for this?


The Poems and Hymns of Christ’s Sweet Singer: Frances Ridley Havergal. amzn | library

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