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“ Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour”
MATT. XXVII, 45.
Entered into Heaven
Christ our great High Priest,
Of Mount Sinai ceased;
Cross exchanged for crown,
He for aye sat down.
For His cry “ 'Tis finished”
On the cursed tree
Set the sinner free;
Was fulfilled at last,
Were for ever past.
Past the smoking altar!
Past the slaughtered beast !
Past the ritual priest !
And the golden ark,
In the chamber dark !
Past the gorgeous vestments,
Purple, scarlet, blue,
Beautiful to view;
Of Mosaic law,
Must, perforce, withdraw
Now no longer needed
Is a human priest,
Turning to the east;
Nor a Jewish rite,
Should eclipse the Light!
For the Lamb on Calvary
Once for ever slain
Nor shall die again ;
And who worship Him
Not with ritual dim.
O then, AGNUS DEI,
On this solemn day,
These our hearts of clay :
Cleanse each sin-stained soul,
Purify the whole.
“ In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow : And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
MATT. xxviii, 1-6.
REAK from Thy tomb, O Jesus ! on this exultant day
Long ere the risen sun shall chase the shades of night away:
Thou art the fittest to roll back the shadows of the night.
The world looks on in wonder still at that first Easter morn,
Though only faithful women went at early hour of dawn
They who were latest at the cross, but foremost at the tomb.
For still the world is looking on with eager, anxious gaze
To that, the earliest Easter morn, best day of all the days;
To see if built on rock or sand are all its highest hopes.
The Romans and the ruffian mob, the Sadducees and Jews,
And all who in these later days, maintain and share their views
Stand with mixed feelings of chagrin and wonderment and awe.
“He saved others,” they had cried, “Himself he cannot save”
Yet none the less did He come forth triumphant from the grave,
To all mankind's surpassing gain, but their eternal loss.
And 'tis our happiness to know with what far-seeing care,
Those cautious, unbelieving Jews their watch and ward prepare, Lest in the darkness of the night, the Lord's disciples crept
And stole His body from its place while all around them slept.
And on their unbelief and hate, and on their cautious zeal
We build our faith and make our boast with unabashed appeal ; For where can we more rigid test, more telling proof desire ?
The Roman seal and guard are all our utmost needs require.
To sleep on guard ʼneath Roman law could never be excused :
Death was the martial penalty for confidence abused; And though one weary sentinel should slumber at his post,
Could sleep by any chance befall and overwhelm a host ?
Not so: those four times four kept guard through all the darkened hours,
And watched before the sacred tomb with all their martial powers; But whilst their eyes were holden they could not see their Lord,
Who vanquished death by might Divine, and stately walked abroad.
Then hail! thou glorious Easter morn in each succeeding year,
The day that bids our hearts rejoice and cast away their fear ; We trust not all our hopes on one forgotten in the grave,
But One triumphant over death, omnipotent to save.
And with the Easter morn we hail the beauties of the spring :
Nature put on some fit attire, some early offerings bring! Shine forth, O sun ! resplendently with all thy glorious powers,
And bid the winter flee away, and coax to life the flowers.
Black clouds that darkened all the sky just two short days ago,
And all ye bitter biting winds, ye hail and frost and snow, Go, get ye hence, we want you not, go, flee to other climes,
Ye cannot harmonize to-day with Easter morning chimes.
But as ye go, just give a call to every truant bird,
And tell it all the joyous news that ye this day have heard; And bid it haste o'er land and sea upon its homeward way
To welcome back the Easter-tide with its most rapt’rous lay.
Sweet-scented violets, breathe ye forth your delicate perfume,
Lift high your censers, fill the air, and help disperse the gloom; And midst the old and faded leaves, ye primroses arise,
And lift your tender faces up to greet the glowing skies.
Ye are more lovely paintings than ever artist traced :
Beside your beauteous tinting their efforts are but waste;
How to depict on canvas coarse your colour and your glow ?
Or how could sculptor copy you with all his vaunted art,
Or to dead stone with all his skill your God-made form impart ?
That fabric to compare with your's, with all its cunning yields ?
Ye are a fitting flower to greet the Resurrection Morn
Springing from out the wintry soil, the landscape to adorn,
Which fell before the scathing blast in the old byegone year.
But midst those old and faded leaves whose verdure long has fled,
Ye spring in beauty and suggest a rising from the dead;
From all the fetters of the grave—from His sepulchral prison.
If Christ indeed had risen not, then were our hopes in vain,
And useless were all faith in Him, for we had nought to gain;
Were by His words and deeds misled, imposed on, and deceived.
But if He truly rose again in spite of watch and seal,
And four quaternions vainly tried His body to conceal,
For this life and the life beyond on what “that Prophet” saith ;
And we can forward look to when our Master shall return
And shall fulfil the great events for which our spirits yearn:
And He shall banish evermore our suffering and sin.
Then welcome! welcome! Easter day, while time itself shall last
A glorious link that serves to bind the future and the past;
When Heaven and earth with one consent shall do Thy sovereign will.