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Full text of "Our Father in heaven; the Lord's prayer in a series of sonnets"

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Our Father in Heaven 

€]^e LotD'jS prater 

IN A SERIES OF SONNETS 

BY 

WILLIAM C. RICHARDS 
V 

AUTHOR OP ^<THE MOUNTAIN ANTHEM," ^* THE LORD IS MY SHEPHBRD|" 
"SCIENCE IN SONG," ETC. 



BOSTON 
LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS 

NEW YORK 
CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM 

1886 



-y-:.^:,. 



THl WIW TORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

Tfsmth 

ASTOR, LENOX AND 
TILDEN FOnNDATlON* 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



DESIGNS BY THE FOLLOWING ARTISTS: 

Illustrated Title Ldmund H. Garrett. 

" Our Father in Heaven " Miss E. S. Tucker. 

"Which art in Heaven'* Miss Ellfn Oakford. 

" Hallowed be Thy name " . ... Mrs. Jessie Curtis Shepherd. 

"Thy kingdom come" Mrs. Jessie Curtis Shepherd. 

" Thy will be done " Miss E. S. Tucker. 

"On earth, as it is in Heaven "... Mrs Jessie Curtis Shepherd. 

" Give us this day our daily bread " Miss Jessie McDermott. 

" Forgive us our trespasses " Miss Ellen Oakford. 

"As we forgive those who trespass against us" . . Miss E. S. Tucker. 
"And lead us not into temptation " . . Mrs. Jessie Curtis Shepherd. 

"But deliver us from evil" Miss Ellen Oakford. 

" For Thine is the kingdom, and the power " . . Edmund H. Garreit. 

Amen Mrs. Jfssie Curtis Shepherd. 

♦ 
Drawn and engraved under the supervision of George T. Andrew. 



Copyright, 1885, by Lee and Shepard. 
All rights reserved. 










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PRELUDE. 



"After this manner shall ye pray," — 

Said He by whom we come to God; 
Divinely sweet and perfect way, 

By suppliant men for ages trod: 
From humble lips with unfeigned sense. 

When its inspired petitions rise, 
Through the dear Master's influence, 

They reach Our Father in the skies. 

Pure homage at His unseen Throne, 

We render in its words divine; 
His perfect Law and Will we own, 

And to their sway our hearts incline : 
Our trust in His great love we place, 

For daily bread, and supplicate 
For pardon of our sins His grace, 

As others our forgiveness wait. 

Against the Tempter's charms we plead. 

And every evil thought and thing; 
So, in our prayer a perfect creed 

Of faith and life and love wc bring 
To Him whose Sceptre is Eterne; 

Whose Power shall ever be as when 
He made the countless stars to burn, 

And whose all Glory is — Amen I 



OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN. 



SONSHIP. 

" Our Father:' 

Our Father ! hear Thy helpless children plead ! 

Thou in Thy might, and in our weakness we, 

So infinite at distance seem to be. 
How can we know and feel in very deed. 
With consciousness beyond the formal creed, 

The unsummed bliss of Thy paternity, 

Our birth and life begot, begun, in Thee, 
Till with our hearts, for eyes, we learn to read ? 

Nor on the blazoned scroll, alone, where shine 
The marvels of Thy power, in suns and stars. 
Whose gaugeless grandeur mocks our littleness, — 
But on the leaves of Thy sweet Book Divine, 

Where Thine incarnate Son's deep griefs and scars, 
Thy bounteous, boundless love for us express ! 

7 



HEAVEN. 

«* IV/io art in Ileavenr 

O Thou, Who art in Heaven, in homage kneeling, 
Our eyes cast down, we lift our hearts to Thee, 
In reverent wonder what Thy Home may be, 

Some faint breath of its air upon us stealing ! 

Prone at Thy feet we chide the daring feeling. 
As if our thought with Heaven's immensity 
Could cope, our eyes its dazzling portal see. 

Till they from Death's kiss wake on Thy revealing ! 

What more of Heaven can man's weak wisdom reach 
Than this, though dim, our Father there abides. 
And there, in Him, all perfectness of bliss, 
Still incommunicate in seraph's speech ? 

What else of Heaven Time's cloudy curtain hides, 

Enough, my heart, for life, for death, is this ! 

8 



THE HALLOWED NAME. 

" Ifallowid be Thy name:' 

We hallow Thy great name forevermore, 

Thou, Who between the Cherubim dost dwell, 
Enrobed in light of which no tongue can tell, 

With glory girt, no mortal form e*er wore. 

The hosts of Heaven bow down Thy throne before, 
And breathe Thy name with love ineffable, 
While trembling answers to their rapture swell 

In streams borne heavenward from Time's mortal 
shore. 

O name, that never may be lightly said. 
How shall my sinful lips its utterance dare 

With awe unblenched lest it be breathed to 
shame } 
Sooner let speech upon my lips fall dead. 

Than I forget my childhood's lisping prayer, — 
^^ Father in Heaven^ hallowM be Thy flamed 



GOD'S KINGDOM. 

" Thy kingdom corned 

Thy kingdom come! All kingdoms, Lord, are Thine, 
Since the first throne of mortal power was set. 
And while there shall be earthly kingdoms yet, 

With wrongs to gloom, or righteousness to shine ! 

All these exist, and serve Thy vast design. 
Nor rise nor fall but by Thy wisdom let. 
Happy the kings who own to Thee their debt, 

For all the length and lustre of their line. 

Thy kingdom shall endure when Time shall cease, 
Its sceptre Truth, and Holiness its throne ; 
Of saints and angels the eternal home — 
Ruled by Love's perfect law, and zoned by Peace. 
Our birthright only in Thy Son we own. 

And with His breath we pray, " Thy kingdom 
come I " 




■^ 



I 

-4 






THE SUPREME WILL. 

" Thy will be doner 

Thy will be done. Our Father, Thou, alone, 

Art sovereign wise, and just and good and great ; 
While we, Thy children, in our mortal state. 

To faults and follies of our nature prone, 

Steeped in our pride and ignorance, loath to own 
Our abject weakness, on our self-will wait. 
And murmur, or rebel, before the gate 

Which Thou hast closed to us in love unknown. 

Beyond that gate, what treasure, or what joy. 
Allures us, as the crown of our desire. 

Some idol's life, some goal that must be won — 
(If evil fate shall not all hope destroy) 
Our hearts with sweet humility inspire, 

In tears and trust, to cry, ** Thy will be done ! " 
14 



THE GAUGE OF SUBMISSION. 

" On earthy as it is in Heaven^^ 

O Thou, Who art all love, when love of Thee, 
Like that which in the hearts of angels glows. 
Shall in our bosoms burn, our love's outflows 

Shall full and fervent as Thine angels* be ! 

Angels and saints then linked in fealty 
To Thy great will, this new earth shall disclose 

. A life of love without its wounds and woes, 

One will, one life, one love, eternally. 

Ah ! here we pray, with bated, trembling breath, 
"Thy will on earth be done, as done in Heaven," 
And, praying thus, our deep defaults confess. 
And wait the full enfranchisement of death. 
Our selfish wills to purge of sin's last leaven. 
And clothe us in Christ's robe of righteousness. 

iC 



DAILY BREAD. 

" Give us this day our daily breads 

Girded for toil, uprisen with the sun, 

Low by the empty couch our heads we bow, 
As in our childhood, in our manhood now. 

To pray, before the day's work is begun 

(Unheeding that the boon we ask is won). 
For daily bread. With toil-dews on my brow. 
Perchance with throbs of brain, my brother, thou, 

The barter we for this day's bread have done. 

Why pray we, but that in our hearts we know 
Our toil and care and pains are vainly spent. 
Or vainly crowned, if from our Father's store 
We feel not all our gains by favor flow ? 

His love can leave us with our crumbs content : 
Without it, we should crave, with harvests, more. 
i8 



FORGIVENESS. 

^* Forgive us our trespasses,''^ 

Thy holy law, our Father, just and true, 
Holds us for trespass in its stern duress : 
For deep defaults in truth and righteousness, 

Its claims our burdened, bonded souls pursue. 

And daily we our trespasses renew, 

While hope of self-acquittal still grows less, 
Till terrors sway us with unpitying stress, 

Of sins unpardoned, and of debts long due. 

Fainting with fear, we raise the plaintive cry, 
'* Father, forgive these debts we cannot pay. 
And Hft us, helpless, out of sin's dark prison." 
Our Father hears ; and He, in love, draws nigh, 
Points to His Son, Who bore sin's curse away, — 
And, lo ! the day-star of our peace is risen ! 



THE MEASURE OF FORGIVENESS. 

" As we forgive those who trespass against us" 

O daring gauge of pardon that we set, 

For sins innumerous, and for debts untold, 
Our plea with Heaven's strong pity, overbold, 

** Forgive as wc forgive ! " for never yet 

Was man's repentance by his fellow met 
With grace so large and free, as to infold 
Oblivion deep of trespass new and old, 

Nor least upbraiding for the cancelled debt. 

Ah ! who of us forgive the trespassers 

Upon our rights, our laws, our love, our pride, 
To that degree, we are content to take 
Our debts' release as God's petitioners ? 
Yet shall our pity stand His grace beside. 

When we forgive as He, for Christ's dear sake ! 



TEMPTATION. 

" And lead us not into temptation^ 

Because to sin and folly we are prone, 

And often, in our blindness, proud to trust 
Our wisdom, or our wit, to keep us just, 

In ways with snares like fragrant flowers o'erstrown. 

Grant us, O Father, not to go alone — 
Since to the journey's issue go we must — 
Till our faint flesh is fallen, dust to dust, 

And we are come into the land unknown. 

Bring not our feet where false delights allure, 
So weak to shun, so willed to seize them, we : 
The specious poison-fruits might us betray. 
And not Thy grace, but our reproach, make sure. 
Hear us, we pray, still faintly following Thee, 
" Into temptation lead us not to-day." 



DELIVERANCE. 

** But deliver us from evUy 

From neither woe nor want, if want or woe 
Thy wisdom, Father, to our share assigns, — 
How much soe'er from each our fear declines, 

Since we their stress, and our own weakness, know, — 

Ah, not from these deliver us ! for, lo ! 

Thy favor through the rifts of sorrow shines. 
And in Thy smile contentment's clinging vines 

Around the poor man's humble cottage grow. 

" Deliver us from evil ; " and we add 

No timid murmur, "Father, if Thou wilt," 

As when some earthly boon our doubts bespeak : 
We breathe the bold petition, and are glad. 

Since for this end Christ's precious blood was spilt, 
And His dear cross assures the boon we seek. 
26 



ASCRIPTION. 

" For Thine is the kingdom^ and the power ^ and the giory, for ever and 

everr 

We ask from Thee, our Father, since we know 

That unto Thee alone all things belong. 

Thy cattle on a thousand green slopes throng ; 
Thy gold and silver in the deep mines grow ; 
The mighty rivers with Thy music flow ; 

Thy power hath set the mountains fast and strong ; 

Thy planets praise Thee in their rhythmic song ; 
And at Thy word earth's empires come and go. 

We nothing' have, and nothing can we need, 
That comes not from Thy treasure-house divine, 
O Thou, Whose love is boundless as Thy store ! 
So, in our want, Thy plenitude we plead, 

Thine is the kingdom^ Lord : the Power is Thine y 
Thijie be the glory ^ — noiv, and evcnnore, 
28 







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AMEN. 

Desire and faith are blent in this strong word, 
The pith and point of every earnest prayer, 
And breathed, forevermore, though unaware. 

When contrite hearts with heavenward sighs are 
stirred. 

Two voices in its rich refrain are heard. 

The plea of man, the pledge of God, is there, — 
" So let it be^'* he cries ; and angels bear 

God's seal, " So shall it bt\' his soul to gird. 

O boundless supplication said and sealed. 
Betwixt our need and God's eternal grace. 

Both taught us from the lips of Christ our Lord ! 
Forgive, O Father, when in doubt we've kneeled. 
Nor seen, through veils of sense, Thy loving face, 
That make Thy strong Amen — our feeble word. 
30