A still gray haze around us,
Behind, a foreign shore,

On board the steamer La France, January 26, 1806

A still gray haze around us,
Behind, a foreign shore,
A still gray deep beneath us,
And Dover cliffs before.
Not one within a hundred miles
Whose name I ever heard,
None who would care to speak to me
A passing friendly word:
Yet not a shadow crosseth me
Of loneliness or fear;
I bless the Omnipresent One,
I know that God is here.

All whom I love are scattered:
And many a month and mile
Rise, mountain-like, before, behind,
Between me and their smile.
Oh that the love I bear them
Might blossom into skill!
To comfort and to brighten,
And all with gladness fill!
Ah!  helpless love!  Yet 't is a joy
To turn each wish to prayer,
And, where each loved one sojourneth,
To know that God is there.

The nearest and the dearest
Are where the rushing Rhine
Bends northward from the Drachenfels,
From castle, rock, and vine;
Where long-lined chestnut shadows
Make tracery below,
And the moss-framed window challenges
The might of frost and snow.
Lit rather by the dawn of heaven
Than earthly sunset glow,
That passing home of faith and prayer!
Oh, God is there, I know!

From thence the wing of loving thought
Speeds on where Severn flows,
And hovers o'er as fair a scene
As our fair England knows;
The home of summer roses,
Of winter mirth and glee,
Long may that home unbroken,
That mirth unsilenced be!
The blessings of unbounded grace
I pray Him to bestow.
And trust Him for the coming years,
For He is there, I know.

Now westward sweeps the vision
Across the Irish Sea,
And echoes low of sisters' love
Come back again to me.
A beacon bright in stormy night
Of error, rage, and wrong,
That home of love and truth shall cast
Its radiance pure and strong.
They tell of rumors strange and dark;
But oh!  no need to fear!
God will not leave His own, I know,
His guardian hand is near.

Another scene by gentle Ouse
Must aye be dear to me,
Though all are not together now,
And one is on the sea.
And where a gray cathedral tower
Uprises broad and high,
A home is made in cloistral shade,
Beside the winding Wye.
To seek the richest boons for these,
Why should the heart be slow?
One Shepherd, Chief, and Great, and Good,
Is watching there, I know.

Then, in a busy city,
A crypt all dark and lone,
A name engraven on our hearts
Is traced upon a stone.
Not there the sainted spirit!
She swells in holy light,
Within the pearl-raised portals,
With those who walk in white.
May all her children follow
The path she meekly trod,
And reach the home she rests in now,
And dwell, like her, with God.

~ Frances Ridley Havergal

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