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“The Story of the Cross”

My poem of the week has been Edward Monro’s “The Story of the Cross.” I discovered this poem reading Anthony Esolen’s recent column at Touchstone Magazine. I appreciated the meditation on Jesus’ cross work, enhanced by Esolen’s comments,  and hope you will as well.

In His own raiment clad, with His blood dyed;
Women walk sorrowing by His side.
Heavy that cross to Him, weary the weight;
One who will help Him waits at the gate.

See! they are traveling on the same road;
Simon is sharing with Him the load.
O whither wandering bear they that tree?
He who first carries it, who is He?

Follow to Calvary; tread where He trod,
He who for ever was Son of God.
You who would love Him stand, gaze at His face:
Tarry a while on your earthy race.

As the swift moments fly, through the blest week,
Read the great story the cross will teach.
Is there no beauty to you who pass by,
In that lone figure which marks that sky?

On the cross lifted Thy face we scan,
Bearing that cross for us, Son of Man.
Thorns form Thy diadem, rough wood Thy throne;
For us Thy blood is shed, us alone.

No pillow under Thee to rest Thy head;
Only the splintered cross is Thy bed.
Nails pierced Thy hands and feet, Thy side the spear;
No voice is nigh to say help is near.

Shadows of midnight fall, though it is day:
Thy friends and kinsfolk stand far away.
Loud is Thy bitter cry; sunk on Thy breast
Hangeth Thy bleeding head without rest.

Loud scoffs the dying thief, who mocks at Thee;
Can it, my Savior, be all for me?
Gazing, afar from Thee, silent and lone,
Stand those few weepers Thou callest Thine own.

I see Thy title, Lord, inscribed above;
Jesus of Nazareth, King of Love.
What, O my Savior, here didst Thou see,
Which made Thee suffer and die for me?

“Child of My grief and pain, watched by My love;
I came to call thee to realms above.
I saw thee wandering far off from Me:
In love I seek for Thee; do not flee.

For thee My blood I shed, for thee alone;
I came to purchase thee, for Mine own.
Weep thou not for My grief, child of My love:
Strive to be with Me in Heaven above.

O I will follow Thee, Star of my soul,
Through the deep shades of life to the goal.
Yea, let Thy cross be borne each day by me;
Mind not how heavy, if but with Thee.

Lord, if Thou only wilt, make us Thine own,
Give no companion, save Thee alone.
Grant through each day of life to stand by Thee;
With Thee, when morning breaks, ever to be.

By Edward Monro, in A Supplement to Hymns Used in the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Leeds (Leeds, England: E. W. Sharp, 1864).

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