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Church Poems

Table of Contents

  1. How still the bells in steeples stand by Emily Dickinson
  2. The New England Pastor by Timothy Dwight
  3. The Church Bell by Lydia Howard Sigourney
  4. In the Old Church Tower by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  5. Sunday Morning by Ruby Archer
  6. The Old Church by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
  7. The Old Church by Edna Jane Campbell
  8. Preach to Them by Amos Russel Wells
  9. The Old Log Church by Lizzie F. Baldy
  10. Old Wooden Church in the Grove by John B. Ketchum
  11. The Sunday School by Amos Russel Wells
  12. A Quaker Church by Thaddeus Pomeroy Cressey

  1. How still the bells in steeples stand

    by Emily Dickinson

    How still the bells in steeples stand,
    Till, swollen with the sky,
    They leap upon their silver feet
    In frantic melody!

  2. The New England Pastor

    Timothy Dwight

    The place, with east and western sides,
    A wide and verdant street divides:
    And here the houses faced the day,
    And there the lawns in beauty lay.
    There, turret-crowned, and central, stood
    A neat and solemn house of God.
    Across the way, beneath the shade
    Two elms with sober silence spread,
    The preacher lived. O'er all the place
    His mansion cast a Sunday grace;
    Dumb stillness sate the fields around;
    His garden seemed a hallowed ground;
    Swains ceased to laugh aloud, when near,
    And schoolboys never sported there.

    In the same mild and temperate zone,
    Twice twenty years, his course had run,
    His locks of flowing silver spread
    A crown of glory o'er his head;
    His face, the image of his mind,
    With grave and furrowed wisdom shined;
    Not cold; but glowing still, and bright;
    Yet glowing with October light:
    As evening blends, with beauteous ray,
    Approaching night with shining day.

    His Cure his thoughts engrossed alone:
    For them his painful course was run:
    To bless, to save, his only care;
    To chill the guilty soul with fear;
    To point the pathway to the skies,
    And teach, and urge, and aid, to rise;
    Where strait, and difficult to keep,
    It climbs, and climbs, o'er Virtue's steep.

  3. The Church Bell

    by Lydia Howard Sigourney

    When glowing in the eastern sky,
    The Sabbath morning meets the eye,
    And o'er a weary, care-worn scene,
    Gleams like the ark-dove's leaf of green,
    How welcome over hill and dale,
    Thy hallow'd summons loads the gale,
    Sweet bell! Church bell!

    When earthly joys and sorrows end,
    And towards our long repose we tend,
    How mournfully thy tone doth call
    The weepers to the funeral,
    And to the last abode of clay,
    With solemn knell mark out the way,
    Sad bell! Church bell!

    If to the clime where pleasures reign,
    We through a Saviour's love attain,
    If freshly to an angel's thought,
    Earth's unforgotten scenes are brought,
    Will not thy voice, that warn'd to prayer,
    Be gratefully remember'd there,
    Bless'd bell? Church bell?

  4. In the Old Church Tower

    by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

    In the old church tower
    Hangs the bell;
    And above it on the vane,
    In the sunshine and the rain,
    Cut in gold, St. Peter stands,
    With the keys in his claspt hands,
    And all is well.

    In the old church tower
    Hangs the bell;
    You can hear its great heart beat,
    Ah! so loud, and wild, and sweet,
    As the parson says a prayer
    Over wedded lovers there,
    And all is well.

    In the old church tower
    Hangs the bell;
    Deep and solemn, hark! again,
    Ah, what passion and what pain!
    With her hands upon her breast,
    Some poor Soul has gone to rest
    Where all is well.

    In the old church tower
    Hangs the bell—
    An old friend that seems to know
    All our joy and all our woe;
    It is glad when we are wed,
    It is sad when we are dead,
    And all is well!

  5. Sunday Morning

    by Ruby Archer

    How sweet to wait within a holy place
    The hour of song and prayer,
    To yield the heart unto a spell of grace,
    Serenely brooding like a presence there.

    The hymns that live within the organ's heart,
    Flow silent o'er the soul;
    Unsounded echoes from the memory start,
    Like mystic writing from an angel's scroll.

  6. The Old Church

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    It lifteth its gray old spire from the heart of the busy town,
    Pointing the thoughts of the people from the things that bind men down—

    Up from toil and temptation, and struggle for daily bread,
    To the blessed Father in heaven, to whom our prayers are said,—

    Who knoweth what we have need of before it passeth our lips,
    Who pitieth and forgiveth our frailty and our slips!

    A century and a quarter dream-like has flitted away
    Since they laid the stone in the corner, one sunny summer day.

    Grave men and stately matrons and rosy children stood,
    While the minister sought a blessing for the church they built in the wood—

    That thither, for peace and comfort, might throng from many lands
    Those who should after worship in the house not made with hands.

    As it rose in its fair proportions, higher from day to day,
    In the shade of the forest round it, the children came to play!

    To-day the birds are singing from their nests in the dusky eaves;
    Then shook their matins and vespers out from the rustling leaves.

    Vanished the quiet forest! In its place the restless town,
    With its hive-like hum and bustle, its houses smoky and brown!

    The church in its green enclosure has only room for graves,
    And over the mossy tombstones the graceful willow waves!

    Here sleep the men and women of a hundred years ago,
    Folded in silent slumber, neath the sunlight and the snow.

    Out from the grand old spire still tolls the bell for the dead;
    Still merrily peals its music for the happy hearts of the wed.

    From the ancient oaken pulpit the message of God is given,
    And from Sabbath to Sabbath are sinners pointed to hope and heaven.

    The mourner findeth comfort, the weary findeth calm;
    And the sorely wounded spirit is soothed with Gilead's balm.

    Here the stranger's eye may brighten as he sees the greeting word:
    "Ever the stranger is welcome in the dwelling of the Lord!"

    And the rich and poor together to mingle worship come
    As the children of One Father—all bound for one sweet home.

    Long may the dear old spire, from the heart of the busy town,
    Lift the thought of the people from all that binds it down,—

    From wealth they must leave behind them, when low they lie in the mold,
    To the city whose walls are jasper, whose streets are paved with gold;

    Where we hope at last to gather, lifting our songs of praise,
    Where never a shade shall darken the sunlight of our days;

    And no voices with tears along them shall tremble in the chord
    Of the hallelujahs rising in that temple of the Lord.

  7. The Old Church

    by Edna Jane Campbell

    Stands this old church from the town apart;
    Old fashioned porch and half decayed,
    Where the ivy new in early spring
    Its leaves of green so kindly bring,
    The faulty spots and chinks to hide,
    Like charity pure for sins essayed.

    A withered tree a century old,
    That's bending 'neath the blade of time,
    Spreads wide its boughs in christian grace.
    Affords the weary a resting place.
    The good, the bad, alike to shield,
    From storm, and heat and lurid clime.

    In this church 'neath the word of God,
    Have met together the grave and gay,
    The thoughtless too with hearts of joy.
    By care unknown or times annoy,
    And those bent low 'neath the chastening rod,
    Buoy faith In holy ecstacy.

    In this church so anxious stood,
    With quivering breath the girlish bride;
    A clinging mantle of snowy white
    Half hides her shrinking form from sight
    As from youth's mooring toward womanhood,
    She launched her craft on an unknown tide.

    The dead here too in frigid state
    Lay waiting silent by friends bewept,
    While the pastor old spoke words of peace
    And comfort in the souls release,
    Ere gentle hands had borne to rest
    This clay, where many kindred slept.

    Stands this old church almost forgot;
    A monitor old of times defect.
    No more the aisles resound with tread,
    No more the grave nor honored dead,
    No more the gay with buoyant step,
    In prescribed shapes sit circumspect.

    The change of time as earthly law,
    Progression's stride, advancement's sway,
    New thoughts, new hopes, and new designs,
    Do now possess the present minds,
    But like that church each one may tell
    Of sunshine, storms, and wintry fray.

  8. Preach to Them

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Preacher, facing needy souls,
    Do not dare ignore them,
    While God's fateful thunder rolls,
    And you preach—before them;
    Rather, finding out their need,
    Piercing through and through them,
    Though they shrink and though they bleed,
    Preach your sermons—to them.

    It is easy to parade.
    Fling your knowledge o'er them,
    Preaching sermons study-made
    Pompously—before them;
    But the sermons that will bless
    Through and through and through them,
    From your heart to theirs,—no less,—
    Are the ones preached—to them.

  9. The Old Log Church

    by Lizzie F. Baldy

    In the primitive days that have long past away,
    When the sun shone as brightly as sun shines to-day,
    Here the old church was built, and the settlement small
    Held the stanch frontier heart, that would answer the call
    To the volunteer ranks, when the foeman was near.
    Leaping into their saddles as swift as the deer,
    Pursuing the red warrior o'er plateau and dale,
    Until night threw around them her dark star-gemmed vail,
    Like a benison of peace bringing rest everywhere,
    While the worshippers knelt in their quaint church of prayer.

    Old Time holds his scepter, and beneath his stern sway
    A city looms up in her stately array;
    New churches have taken the place of the old,
    New worshipers worship within the new fold,
    Whose spires point to heaven; here the rich and the gay
    Kneel low at their altars: do they all kneel to pray
    With the reverence for God marking all of their moods,
    As when the old church stood mid nature's solitudes;
    When the faith of the people had hallowed the sod,
    And they raised this rude temple to worship their God?

    No fine garb of fashion, no carpeted aisles;
    No cloak of vast riches, from which guilt oft smiles;
    No soft cushioned pews in which sinners may rest,
    Unheeding the future in the present's bequest;
    No grand organ music, no fashionable choir,
    But they sang the old tunes with a heartfelt desire.
    The swift flowing river rolling down to the sea
    Oft caught up the refrain in her wild minstrelsy;
    And the wide answering paean went up on high,
    Till the echo hath flown like birds to the sky.
    The church is still there and the river flows on,
    But the people who built it. Oh! where have they gone?

    Many bridges hang over the river's dark wave,
    Progress laughs at the failures she hides in the grave;
    Her bidding the iron horse obeys with a bound,
    His track like a girdle spans the continent round;
    The lightning of heaven flashing o'er the wire,
    Brings the news of a people as a single desire.
    And here Commerce, twin sister, asserts her bold sway,
    While success crowns her efforts with laurels each day,
    But the little log church stands deserted, alone,
    Like some ancient relic whose daytime hath flown.

    Oh! church as you stand in your loneliness now,
    Hath the dark hand of death pressed each worshiper's brow?
    Did the sunlight of peace shine with joy on each face,
    As they knelt round thy altar to ask for His grace?
    Our God sends his blessing in hamlet and hall,
    He sees not their riches, but heeds each low call;
    The church may be humble, or stately and grand,
    The last to be built, or the first in the land.
    The old log church may crumble to dust bye-and-bye,
    But God keeps the record of each up on high.

  10. Old Wooden Church in the Grove

    by John B. Ketchum

    A song for the old wooden church in the grove,
    And that hour of hallowed repose,
    When the Spirit comes down within the old walls,
    In the hush of the Sabbath-day's close;
    When the sun sinks low in the far distant west
    And the shadows of night are falling,
    As the calm of the even steals over all,
    And the bell is lovingly calling.

    In fancy I sit in the pew by the wall,
    And my spirit is pensive and grieves;—
    And I hear the low prayers that trembled and rose
    As the summer-wind sang thro' the eaves:—
    I hear the same voices that chanted in tune
    In the days of the long, long ago,
    Yet singing those hymns as the eve closes in,
    And the music comes sweetly and low.

    Though absent and distant an exile I roam,
    I will think of those hours and the time,
    And memory keep green the little, old church,
    And preserve it in story and rhyme:—
    Let them bury me where the tones of the bell,
    There my spirit forever will move,
    Where the voice of the worshiper riseth in praise,
    From the old wooden church in the grove.

  11. The Sunday School

    by Amos Russel Wells

    A school it is, where glorious things are taught;
    A factory as well, where lives are wrought;
    A garden, where the flower-like children grow;
    An ocean, too, where freighted vessels go.

    It is a school, the school of Jesus Christ;
    His treasure-house as well, of gems unpriced;
    His army, drilled for high, heroic strife;
    His orchard, with all golden fruitage rife.

    It loves a Book, this Bible Sunday school;
    It owns a sceptre—Christ's imperial rule;
    It has one task—the Saviour's will to do;
    It holds one faith—that He is good and true.

    O school, unending is your perfect lore.
    O army, forward! Jesus goes before.
    O workmen, labor! Jesus labors too;
    You cannot fail, your Master toils with you.

  12. A Quaker Church

    by Thaddeus Pomeroy Cressey

    Eastward from my window on the hillside,
    A Quaker church, with architecture plain,
    Stands clad in unpretentious drab outside,
    With windows small and glass without a stain.

    No steeple pointing from its roof above,
    To show the worshipers the way to heaven,
    Believing, if they live in peace and love,
    That here below a rich reward is given.

    No pulpit to adorn its sacred walls,
    Or organ notes, or tuneful voices raise,
    But, listening to the inward voice that calls,
    Their very silence is a song of praise.

    They find, when sorrows steal upon their way,
    A sweet release within that sacred place;
    Their burdened spirits there can watch and pray,
    And build within their souls a throne of grace.

    There, without words, their worship pure has flown,
    And error s monstrous shape from earth is driven;
    While trusting safely in the great unknown,
    A living truth will make this world a heaven.

    The progress their expanded souls have made
    In their maturer years and bolder right,
    Each gleam of brightness coming to their aid
    Will guide their footsteps in the path of right.

    These sainted witnesses to brighter skies—
    When parting with this world of endless strife—
    Bear to the sunny dawn of paradise
    The fruitful blossoms of an earnest life.

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