Go up and watch the new-born rill
Just trickling from its mossy bed,
Streaking the heath-clad hill
With a bright emerald thread.
Canst thou her bold career foretell,
What rocks she shall o'erleap or rend,
How far in Ocean's swell
Her freshening billows send?
Perchance that little brook shall flow
The bulwark of some mighty realm,
Bear navies to and fro
With monarchs at their helm.
Or canst thou guess, how far away
Some sister nymph, beside her urn
Reclining night and day,
'Mid reeds and mountain fern,
Nurses her store, with thine to blend
When many a moor and glen are past,
Then in the wide sea end
Their spotless lives at last?
E'en so, the course of prayer who knows?
It springs in silence where it will,
Springs out of sight, and flows
At first a lonely rill:
But streams shall meet it by and by
From thousand sympathetic hearts,
Together swelling high
Their chant of many parts.
Unheard by all but angel ears
The good Cornelius knelt alone,
Nor dreamed his prayers and tears
Would help a world undone.
The while upon his terraced roof
The loved Apostle to his Lord
In silent thought aloof
For heavenly vision soared.
Far o'er the glowing western main
His wistful brow was upward raised,
Where, like an angel's train,
The burnished water blazed.
The saint beside the ocean prayed,
This soldier in his chosen bower,
Where all his eye surveyed
Seemed sacred in that hour.
To each unknown his brother's prayer,
Yet brethren true in dearest love
Were they--and now they share
Fraternal joys above.
There daily through Christ's open gate
They see the Gentile spirits press,
Brightening their high estate
With dearer happiness.
What civic wreath for comrades saved
Shone ever with such deathless gleam,
Or when did perils braved
So sweet to veterans seem?