Ye hermits blest…
“John Keble’s prayer book contains over 100 pieces of poetry to be used for prayer, devotions, or mediations on Sunday and holidays throughout the Christian year. It was Keble’s desire that his readers would use his verses to unify their own spiritual thoughts and feelings. “The Christian Year” opens with morning and evening prayers, inspired by passages from Luke and Lamentations. The majority of Keble’s poems correspond with a particular Sunday in the Christian year, but the book also contains a number of poems for Christian holidays and important events, such as matrimony, communion, and baptism. Keble’s surpassing talent as a poet is evident on every page.”
“Ye hermits blest, ye holy maids,
The nearest Heaven on earth,
Who talk with God in shadowy glades,
Free from rude care and mirth;
To whom some viewless teacher brings
The secret lore of rural things,
The moral of each fleeting cloud and gale,
The whispers from above, that haunt the twilight vale:
Say, when in pity ye have gaz’d
On the wreath’d smoke afar,
That o’er some town, like mist uprais’d,
Hung hiding sun and star,
Then as ye turn’d your weary eye
To the green earth and open sky,
Were ye not fain to doubt how Faith could dwell
Amid that dreary glare, in this world’s citadel?
But Love’s a flower that will not die
For lack of leafy screen,
And Christian Hope can cheer the eye
That ne’er saw vernal green;
Then be ye sure that Love can bless
E’en in this crowded loneliness,
Where ever-moving myriads seem to say,
Go — thou art naught to us, nor we to thee — away!
There are in this loud stunning tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th’ everlasting chime;
Who carry music in their heart
Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,
Plying their daily task with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.
For the full text, see: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/keble/year.xcii.html
“John Keble (25 April 1792 – 29 March 1866) was an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Keble College, Oxford was named after him.
Keble was born in Fairford, Gloucestershire where his father, the Rev. John Keble, was Vicar of Coln St. Aldwyns. He attended Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and, after a brilliant academic performance there, became a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and was for some years a tutor and examiner in the University. While still at Oxford he took Holy Orders in 1815, and became first a curate to his father, and later curate of St Michael and St Martin’s Church, Eastleach Martin in Gloucestershire.
Meantime, he had been writing ‘The Christian Year’, which appeared in 1827, and met with an almost unparalleled acceptance. Though at first anonymous, its authorship soon became known, with the result that Keble was in 1831 appointed to the Chair of Poetry at Oxford, which he held until 1841. Victorian scholar Michael Wheeler calls “The Christian Year” simply “the most popular volume of verse in the nineteenth century”. In his essay on “Tractarian Aesthetics and the Romantic Tradition”, Gregory Goodwin claims that “The Christian Year” is “Keble’s greatest contribution to the Oxford Movement and to English literature.” As evidence of that Goodwin cites E. B. Pusey’s report that ninety-five editions of this devotional text were printed during Keble’s lifetime, and “at the end of the year following his death, the number had arisen to a hundred-and-nine”. By the time the copyright expired in 1873, over 375,000 copies had been sold in Britain and 158 editions had been published. Notwithstanding its widespread appeal among the Victorian readers, the popularity of Keble’s “The Christian Year” faded in the twentieth century despite the familiarity of certain well-known hymns, e.g. “New every morning is the love.””
See further: http://anglicanhistory.org/bios/jkeble.html