Frederick W. Faber
Oh for freedom, for freedom in worshiping God,
For the mountain-top feeling of generous souls,
For the health, for the air, of the hearts deep and broad,
Where grace not in rills but in cataracts rolls!1
Most good is the brisk wholesome service of fear,
And the calm, wise obedience of conscience is sweet;
And good are all worships, all loyalties dear,
All promptitudes fitting, all services meet.
But none honors God like the thirst of desire,
Nor possesses the heart so completely with Him;
For it burns the world out with the swift ease of fire,
And fills life with good works till it runs o’er the brim.
Then pray for desire, for love’s wistfulest yearning,
For the beautiful pining of holy desire;
Yes, pray for a soul that is ceaselessly burning
With the soft, fragrant flames of this thrice happy fire.2
For the heart only dwells, truly dwells with its treasure,
And the languor of love captive hearts can unfetter;
And they who love God cannot love Him by measure,
For their love is but hunger to love Him still better.
Is it hard to serve God, timid soul? Hast thou found
Gloomy forests, dark glens, mountain-tops on thy way?
All the hard would be easy, all the tangles unwound,
Wouldst thou only desire, as well as obey.
For the lack of desire is the ill of all ills;
Many thousands through it the dark pathway have trod.
The balsam, the wine of predestinate wills
Is a jubilant pining and longing for God.
’Tis a fire that will burn what thou canst not pass over;
’Tis a lightning that breaks away all bars to love;
’Tis a sunbeam the secrets of God to discover;
’Tis the wing David prayed for, the wing of the Dove.
I have seen living men—and their good angels know
How they failed and fell short through the want of desire:
Souls once almost saints have descended so low,
’Twill be much if their wings bear them over the fire.
I have seen dying men not so grand in their dying
As our love would have wished—and through lack of desire:
Oh that we may die languishing, burning, and sighing;
For God’s last grace and best is to die all on fire.
’Tis a great gift of God to live after our Lord,
Yet the old Hebrew times they were ages of fire.
When fainting souls fed on each dim-figured word,
And God called men He loved most—the Men of Desire.
Oh then wish more for God, burn more with desire,
Covet more the dear sight of His marvelous Face;
Pray louder, pray longer, for the sweet gift of fire
To come down on thy heart with its whirlwinds of grace.
Yes, pine for thy God, fainting soul! ever pine;
Oh languish mid all that life brings thee of mirth;
Famished, thirsty, and restless—let such life be thine—
For what sight is to heaven, desire is to earth.
God loves to be longed for, He loves to be sought,
For He sought us Himself with such longing and love:
He died for desire of us, marvelous thought!
And He yearns for us now to be with Him above.