The Paschal feast was ended. Multitudes,
Unweeting what was done, that day had left
The gates of Zion for their far-off homes;
And there was silence, where but yesterday
Had been the hum of thousands. Olivet
Slept calmly underneath the waning moon,
And darkening shadows fell across the steeps
And hollows of Jerusalem. Deep night
Had drench’d the eyes of thousands. But, behold,
Within the upper room where Jesus broke
The bread of life, and pour’d the mystic wine
The night before He suffer’d, once again
The little band of those who loved Him most
Were gather’d. On the morrow morn they thought
To leave the holy city, holier now
Than ever in their eyes, and go to meet
Their Lord upon the Galilean hill.
All bosoms swell’d with gladness, all save one;
One heart amid that group of light and love
Was desolate and dark: nine weary days
Of doubt, which shado’d all eternity,
Had written years of suffering on his brow.
The worst he fear’d to him was realised,
Life quench’d, for ever quench’d, and death supreme.
Jesus was dead. And vainly others told,
How they had seen and heard their risen Lord;
Himself had seen the lifeless body hang
Upon the cross; and, till he saw like them
And like them touch’d the prints in hands and side,
He would not, for he could not, hope again.
But there has been enough of sorrow now
For that true mourner, sorely tried but true:
And as they communed of an absent Lord
Jesus was there, though doors were shut and barr’d,
There in the midst of them; and from His lips,
Who is Himself our Peace, the words of peace
Fell as of old like dew on every heart,
But surely sweetest, calmest, tenderest
On one most torn and tost. The waves were still;
Day broke; the shadows fled: nor this alone,
Love offer’d all which bitterest grief had ask’d,
And laying bare the inly bleeding wound
Heal’d it, which haply else had bled afresh
In after years, till faith adoring claim’d
In One, whom sense no longer sought to touch,
The Lord of life, the everlasting God.
O Master, though our eyes have never look’d
Upon Thy blessèd face and glorious form,
Grant us to trust Thee with a perfect trust,
And love Thee and rejoice in Thee unseen,
And prove the heaven of Thy beatitude
On those who, though they see Thee not, believe.
Edward Bickersteth, 1825-1906
(Bishop of Exeter, 1885-1900)
Almighty and everliving God, who for the greater confirmation of the faith didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son’s Resurrection: grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ; that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. – Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon