Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE COUNTRY CHURCH, by ELIZABETH BOGART



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THE COUNTRY CHURCH, by            
First Line: It was an humble temple; and it stood
Last Line: Till the last trump shall sound, and time be o'er.
Alternate Author Name(s): Estelle


IT was an humble temple; and it stood
In the enclosure of a quiet wood.
The forest trees o'ershadow'd all the place,
And mountains round it, added a rude grace,
To charm the eye, and bid the thoughts arise
Amid their towering summits, to the skies.
The valley lay below, half hid from view
By clustering bushes on its bank that grew;
And in its depths a winding streamlet stray'd
Of crystal water, murmuring through the glade --
An emblem of that living water, given
To quench the thirst of spirits bound for heaven.

Sweet was the rural scene of deep repose,
And bright the sun that o'er the Sabbath rose,
When we, as strangers, sought that house of prayer,
And join'd the few who met to worship there.
We cross'd the open door-way, sure to meet
A welcome entrance and a willing seat,
Amid the scant and scatter'd flock that came
Their own familiar places there to claim.
Free access to that dome was none denied;
Nor outward show of fashion or of pride,
Check'd the devotion of the solemn hour,
Or took from Truth its deep, momentous power.

No studied eloquence was there display'd,
Nor poetry of language lent its aid,
But plain the words which from the preacher came;
A preacher young, and all unknown to fame;
While youth and age a listening ear inclined,
To learn the way the pearl of price to find.
The solemn hymn, to ancient music set,
In many a heart response of memory met.
To me, it seem'd, departed Sabbaths hung
Upon those notes, which gave the past a tongue
To speak again in voices from the dead,
And wake an echo from their silent bed.

Oh! what a power hath music! how it sinks
Into the spirit's fountain-depths, and drinks
Familiar draughts perchance long buried there,
And blend the scenes that are, with scenes that were.
All Nature seem'd to hail that Sabbath morn,
With sight and sound religion to adorn.
The hills with verdure crown'd, majestic stood,
The water'd valley, and the vocal wood,
Whose leaves, stirr'd by the breezes' viewless wings,
Whisper'd in worship of the King of kings,
While birds in freedom chanted forth their lays,
Untaught, unwritten, to their Maker's praise.

So calm, so beautiful, that lonely spot,
'Twere well that there the world should be forgot;
And every thought attuned to sacred themes,
Cast off awhile life's vain, distracting schemes.
I love a country church, where'er it be!
It brings back happy memories to me.
It cancels years, and shadows pass away,
And forms beloved now mingled with the clay,
By Fancy's touch, recover life and breath,
And I forget that they are thine, O Death!
Still tenants of the grave; to rise no more,
Till the last trump shall sound, and time be o'er.





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