The Church and The World
The Church and the world walked far apart
On the changing shores of time:
The world was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
"Come, give me your hand", cried the merry world,
"And walk with me this way."
But the good Church hid her snowy hand,
And solemnly answered "Nay!"
"Nay, walk with me but a little space",
Said the world with a kindly air,
"The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there.
"My path, you see, is a broad, fair path,
And my gate is high and wide;
"There is room enough for you and for me
To travel side by side",
Half-shyly the Church approached the world
And gave him her hand of snow;
The old world grasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low:
"Your dress is too simple to suit my taste;
I will give you pearls to wear;
"Rich velvet and silk for your graceful form
And diamonds to deck your hair."
The church looked down on her plain, white robes
And then at the dazzling world,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
"I will change my dress for a costlier one",
Said the Church with a smile of grace;
Then her pure white garments drifted away,
And the world gave her in place
Beautiful satins and shining silks,
And roses, and gems and pearls;
And over her forehead her bright hair fell,
Crisped in a thousand curls.
"Your house is too plain", said the proud old world,
"Ill build you one like mine;
Carpets of Brussels and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine.
And he bought her a costly and beautiful home;
Splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there,
Gleaming in purple and gold.
And fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the world and his children were there;
And laughter and music and feasts were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
The Angel of Mercy flew over the Church,
And whispered, "I know thy sin."
The Church looked back with a sigh
And longed to gather her children in.
"Your preachers are all too old and plain",
Said the gay old world with a sneer.
"They frighten my children with dreadful tales
Which I like not for them to hear.
"They talk of brimstone and fire and pain,
And the horrors of endless night;
"They talk of a place that should never at all
Be mentioned in ears polite.
"I shall send you some of the better stamp,
Brilliant and gay and fast,
"Who will tell them that people may live as they list
And go to heaven at last."
"The sons of the world and the sons of the church walked closely,
Hand and heart,
And only the Master Who knoweth all
Could tell the two apart.
Then the church sat down at her ease and said,
"I am rich and in goods increased;
"I have need of nothing, have nought to do
But to laugh and dance and feast."
The sly world heard her and laughed in his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside,
"The church is fallen, the beautiful church,
And her shame is her boast and pride."