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The Jewish Year

No. 1. 

שבת בראשית

By Grace Aguilar

He spake; th’ Almighty spake, and Earth and Heaven
Started from chaos ne’er again to sleep;
Earth yet was void—no beauteous form was given,
And darkness lay upon the mighty deep.

He spake: Let there be light! and there was light;
E’en as He spake, the rushing torrent came,
And darkness fled before th’ effulgence bright;
The sun and moon were not—‘twas Heaven's own flame.

Again He spake; and then a wide expanse
Stretched forth between the waters; azure sky,
Soft, lovely, meet to bless th’ admiring glance
That was to gaze, though yet it was not nigh.

And yet again that Voice, and yet again;
Six times it spake; and Earth, in richness clad,
Teem’d with new life, that knew nor death nor pain,
But in the presence of its God was glad.

And fruits, and herbs, and flowers, and grass had sprung
In perfect beauty from the swelling sod;
And sun, and moon, and stars in glory hung,
Resplendent, voiceless, eloquent of God.

And Earth, air, water, filled with joyous life;
Each element well fitted to sustain
Its given burden, which no darkling strife
Might dash with sin, or with dull sorrow’s chain.

And man, majestic, glorious man, was there;
The Voice creating raised him from the sod,
And breathed into his frame the vital air,
Which marked him dearest, most beloved of God.

And at His nod this was! Let it! ‘twas done;
Creation started from unbroken sleep;
And chaos Past, and darkness, gloom was gone,
And Earth was severed from the soundless deep.

And still that God is ours; still, oh! still His power,
Mighty to do, and mightier yet to save,
Is ever hovering o’er life's darkest hour,
To shield, revive, sustain the souls He gave.

Oh! pause not, faint not, ye who seek Him not,
Him deeming all too mighty to look down;
That the small woes and joys which mark our lot,
Are all too trifling for His smile or frown.

Hear ye His voice, appealing from his word,
Unto the faint, the weary, and the worn:
“In righteousness I call thee,” saith the Lord,
“And I will pitying bless the souls that mourn;

“And darkness shall be turned for them to light,
And straight the crooked things my love shall make,
Increasing strength to them that have no might,
The lone heart cheering for my great name’s sake.”

And shall we doubt that word, mistrust his power?
E’en though our paths seem dark, and chaos wild
Enwrap the soul in misery’s lonely hour,
Where never light hath shone, no flow’ret smiled?

He who brought forth this glorious world from space,
Will, at one word, bid sorrow’s waves be still;
Bid glistening flowers the shapeless depths efface,
And rushing light chaotic darkness fill.

And as He placed His image on the earth,
T’adorn, and bless, and sweetly speak of Him,
So in each heart His image will have birth,
And breathe of joys that never may grow dim.

Father! oh lift to Thee each sorrowing heart,
Strengthen the faint and weary to adore;
Thy blessful balm in thy deep love impart,
And to fond hope the spiritless restore.

Oh! let th’ effulgence of thy awful MIGHT
Be lost in the still whisper of thy LOVE;
Let Mercy veil thy too resplendent light,
And Pity lift each yearning soul above.