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AT COCKCROW.

The bird that heralds in the day
Proclaims the nearing morning light;
And Christ who wakeneth the soul
Bids us emerge from sin's deep night.




  ― 196 ―
Ye sick, ye slothful, listless ones,
Shake your dull slumber from your eyes;
Watch henceforth, sober, upright, chaste,
For I am near, our Master cries.

Save when long toil hath robbed the night
Of time to soothe the drooping eye;
'Tis all too late to leave the couch
When the bright sun is in the sky.

That chant the clamorous birds uprear,
As on the rooftree they rejoice,
Just ere the dawning glitters forth,
Is emblem of our Judge's voice.

Buried in bed of indolence
And curtained round with darkness drear,
It bids us leave our quiet rest,
For now, e'en now, the day draws near.

It promises to those who toil
That day again shall chase the night,
When morning's breath hath decked the east
Once more with ruddy, dappled light,

This sleep we take but for a time
Shadows the everlasting death;
Iniquity, like midnight gloom,
Gives to the soul sleep's laboured breath.

But Christ, with voice of warning love,
Calls from the rooftree of the sky
For all to break the bonds of sloth,
Since His Redemption draweth nigh;—

That buried in the tomb of sin,
And heedless of its heavenly Friend,
Man's heart should slumber on no more—
E'en to his sluggish lifetime's end.

They say that fiends that love the night
And roam in its congenial gloom,
By cockcrow scared and scattered, flee
And seek once more the place of doom.

The hated presence of our God,
The world's salvation and its light,
Disperseth, when her veil is rent,
The prowling satellites of night.




  ― 197 ―
They know full well the meaning sign,
That it recalls the promised hope
Through which we ever when we wake,
For Christ's dread advent still look up.

The power that dwells within this bird
The Saviour unto Peter showed,
Foretelling that he would deny
Thrice ere the morning cock had crowed.

Before the herald of the light
Proclaimed the next approaching sun,
And put an end to that day's sin,
The deed predicted had been done.

The false word fallen from his lips
Peter with bitter tears bewailed;
(Although his heart continued pure—
His inmost faith had never failed.)

Never again such treacherous word
Its way from tongue too free could win;
And when the cock's shrill crow was heard,
A saint once more, he ceased from sin.

Therefore (as all of us believe)
At that still time when overhead
The cock exulting greets the morn,
Christ rose triumphant from the dead.

'Twas then he plucked the sting from death,
Then he o'erthrew the throne of hell,
Then that before the stronger day
The power of night grew faint and fell.

Now, now let sins for ever rest,
Now black crime sink in slumbers deep,
Now deadly malice fade away
Consumed by its own wasting sleep.

But let the spirit watching stand,
And, as it watches, labour on
The little space that still remains,
Ere time and toil shall both be gone.

On Jesus let us ever call
With tears, with prayers, and free from sin;
'Tis fervent prayer forbiddeth sleep
The holy heart to enter in.




  ― 198 ―
With lazy limbs coiled up in rest,
With head through which vain visions roll,
Oblivion deep hath long enough
Oppressed, obscured, o'erwhelmed the soul.

For false and frivolous is all
We did for worldly fame or fear—
Mere empty dreams—but let us wake,
For He whose name is Truth is here.

Gold, pleasure, joy, prosperity,
Wealth, honours, whatsoe'er we sought
To fill our hearts with noxious pride;
The morning comes,—and all are nought.

Do thou, O Christ, dispel our sleep,
And burst in twain the bonds of night;
Destroy the sin that still remains,
And flood our breasts with freshened light!

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