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Ash-Wednesday
by [?]


Glitt’ring balls and thoughtless revels
Fill up now each misspent night–
‘Tis the reign of pride and folly,
The Carnival is at its height.
Every thought for siren pleasure,
And its sinful, feverish mirth;
Who can find one moment’s leisure
For aught else save things of earth?

But, see, sudden stillness falling
O’er those revels, late so loud,
And a hush comes quickly over
All the maddened giddy crowd,
For a voice from out our churches
Has proclaimed in words that burn:
“Only dust art thou, proud mortal,
And to dust shall thou return!”

And, behold, Religion scatters
Dust and ashes on each brow;
Thus replacing gem and flower
With that lowly symbol now:
On the forehead fair of beauty,
And on manhood’s front of pride,
Rich and poor and spirit weary–
All receive it, side by side.

And the hearts that throbbed so wildly
For vain pleasure’s dreams alone,
For its gilded gauds and follies,
Now at length have calmer grown.
Oh! that voice with heavenly power
Through each restless breast hath thrilled,
And our churches, late so lonely,
Now with contrite hearts are filled.

Fair and lovely are our altars
With their starry tapers bright,
With dim clouds of fragrant incense,
Fair young choristers in white,
And the dying gleam of day-light,
With its blushing crimson glow,
Streaming through the lofty casement
On the kneeling crowd below.

Tis an hour of golden promise
For the hearts that secret burn
With contrite and anxious wishes
To the Father to return;
For a Saviour, full of mercy,
On His altar-throne is there,
Waiting but that they should ask Him,
For response to whispered prayer.