O Christ, of all Thy servants Guide,
Mild is the yoke Thou mak'st us bear,
Leading us gently by Thy side
With gracious care.
Thy love took up our life's hard load
And spent in grievous toils its might:
Thy bond-slaves tread the easier road
Led by Thy light.
Nine hours have run their course away,
The sun sped three parts of its race:
And what remains of the short day
The holy fast hath reached its end;
Our table now Thou loadest, Lord:
With all Thy gifts true gladness send
To grace our board.
Such is our Master's gentle sway,
So kind the teaching in His school,
That all find rest who will obey
His easy rule.
Thou would'st not have us scorn the grace
Of cleanliness and vesture fair:
Thou lovest not a soiled face
And unkempt hair.
Let him that fasts, Thou saidst, be clean,
Nor lose health's fair and ruddy glow:
Let no wan sallowness be seen
Upon his brow.
'Tis better in glad modesty
Of our good works to shun display:
God sees what 'scapes our neighbour's eye
And will repay.
That Shepherd keen seeks one lost sheep
Sickly and weak, strayed from the fold,
Fleece torn with briers of thickets deep,
He drives the wolves far from the track:
And found He brings on shoulders borne
To sunlit pen the wanderer back,
No more forlorn:
Yea, to the meads and grassy fields
The lamb restores, where no thorn balks,
No rough burrs tear, no thistle yields
Its bristling stalks:
But leaves of green herbs brightly glance
And in the grove the palm-trees dream,
And laurels shade the eddying dance
Of crystal stream.
For all these gifts, O Shepherd dear,
What service can I render Thee?
No grateful vows my debt shall clear
For love so free.
Though by self-chosen fasts severe
Our strength of limb we waste away:
Though, spurning food, we Thee revere
By night and day:
Yet our works never can o'ertake
Thy love or with Thy gifts compare:
Our toils this earthen vessel break,
The more we dare.
Therefore lest failing powers consume
Our fragile life and shrivelled veins
Pale 'neath the tyranny of rheum
And weakening pains:
Thou dost not rule perpetual Lent
For man, nor modest fare deny:
Fearless may each unto his bent
His wants supply.
Enough that all our acts by prayer
Be sanctified unto Thy will,
Whether we fast, or with due care
Our needs fulfil.
Then shall God bless us for our good
And lead us to our soul's true wealth;
For, if but consecrated, food
Shall bring us health.
O Lord, grant that our feast may spread
Marrow and strength throughout our flesh:
And may all Christly souls be fed
With vigour fresh.