Suggestive programs for special day exercises/Arbor Day/The Forest Hymn


Father, Thy hand
Hath reared these venerable columns; Thou
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down
Upon the naked earth, and forthwith rose
All these fair ranks of trees. They, in Thy sun,
Budded and shook their green leaves in Thy breeze,
And shot toward heaven. The century-living crow
Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died
Among their branches, till, at last, they stood,
As they now stand, massy and tall and dark.
Fit shrine for humble worshiper to hold
Communion with his Maker. These dim vaults.
These winding aisles, of human pomp or pride
Report not. No fantastic carvings show
The boast of our vain race to change the form
Of Thy fair works. But Thou art here—Thou fill’st
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds
That run along the summit of these trees
In music; Thou art in the cooler breath
That from the inmost darkness of the place
Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground,
The fresh, moist ground, are all instinct with Thee.

Here is continual worship. Nature, here,
In the tranquillity that Thou dost love,
Enjoys Thy presence. Noiselessly around,
From perch to perch, the solitary bird
Passes; and yon clear spring, that ’midst its herbs,
Wells softly forth and, wondering, steeps the roots
Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale
Of all the good it does. Thou hast not left
Thyself without a witness, in these shades
Of Thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace
Are here to speak of Thee. This mighty oak—
By whose immovable stem I stand and seem
Almost annihilated—not a prince
In all that proud old world beyond the deep,
E’er wore his crown as loftily as he
Wears the green coronal of leaves with which
Thy hand has graced him. Nestled at his root
Is beauty such as blooms not in the glare
Of the broad sun. That delicate forest flower.
With scented breath and look so like a smile,
Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mold,
An emanation of the indwelling Life,
A visible token of the upholding Love,
That are the soul of this wide universe.*********Be it ours to meditate
In these calm shades, Thy milder majesty.
And to the beautiful order of Thy works
Learn to conform the order of our lives.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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