What means this gathering multitude,
Upon thy shores, O, Galilee,
As various as the billows rude
That sweep thy ever restless sea?
Can but the mandate of a King
So varied an assemblage bring?
Behold the noble, rich, and great,
From Levite, Pharisee and Priest,
Down to the lowest dregs of fate,
From mightiest even to the least;
Yes, in this motley throng we find
The palsied, sick, mute, halt, and blind.
Is this some grand affair of state,
A coronation, or display,
By some vainglorious potentate,--
Or can this concourse mark the day
Of some victorious hero's march
Homeward, through triumphal arch?
Or, have they come to celebrate
Some sacred sacerdotal rite;
By civic feast, to emulate
Some deed, on history's pages bright?
Or can this grand occasion be
Some battle's anniversary?
But wherefore come the halt and blind?
What comfort can the pain-distressed
In such a tumult hope to find?
What is there here, to offer rest
To those, whom adverse fate has hurled,
Dismantled, on a hostile world?
Let us approach! A form we see,
Fairest beyond comparison;
For such an heavenly purity,
From other eyes, hath never shown;
Nor such a calm, majestic brow
On earth hath ne'er appeared, till now.
Draw nearer. Lo! a voice we hear,
Resonant, soft, pathetic, sweet;
In ringing accents, calm and clear,
He sways the thousands at his feet,
With more than mortal eloquence,
Or man's compassion, in his glance.
Ah! Strange, that such a form should stand
In raiment soiled, and travel stained;
Yes, mark the contour of that hand,
A hand by menial toil profaned.
Can one from such a station reach
All classes by sheer force of speech?
Can eloquence from mortal tongue
Break through the barriers, which divide
The toiling and down-trodden throng
From affluence, and official pride?
Then how can yonder speaker hold
An audience so manifold?
He spake as never orator
Before, or since, with burning thought,
In parable, and metaphor;
Each simple illustration taught
Some sacred truth, some truth which could
By sage, or fool, be understood.
With similes of common things,
The lilies of the field, the salt
Which lost its savour; gently brings
A lesson, from the common fault
Of self-admiring Pharisee,
Of ostentatious piety.
And from the prostrate penitent,
The Publican, who beat his breast,
Remorsefully his garment rent,
And thus, with tears, his sin confessed;
"Lord, Lord, a sinner vile am I,
Be merciful, and hear my cry!"
And from that man, beset by thieves,
And left upon the road, to die;
No aid or comfort he receives
From Priest, or Levite, passing by;
How the despised Samaritan
Proved the true neighbor to that man.
Yes, finished with such fervency
Of gesture, and similitude;
Such depths of love, and purity
His hearers marvelled, as they stood;
Nor through his discourse, was there heard,
Abusive, vain, or idle word.
Who may this wondrous speaker be?
Is he some judge, or orator?
Some one in high authority?
Physician, prince, or conqueror?
Answer, thou ever restless sea,
Who may this wondrous person be?
With echoes soft, the sea replies,
This is a Judge, and Orator;
A Judge, beyond all judges wise,
And eloquent, as none before;
A Judge, majestic, calm, serene;
And yet, an humble Nazarene.
He is a Ruler, whose command
The myriads of the skies obey,
As in the hollow of His hand
He holds all human destiny.
The tempest wild concedes his will,
And calms before His "Peace, be still."
A great Physician, too, is He,
Whose word, the leper purifies;
The mute converse, the blind ones see;
At his command, the dead arise;
He cures the ravages of sin,
And makes the foulest sinner clean.
He is a Prince, a Prince whose power
Knows neither limit nor degree,
Whose glory, not the passing hour,
Nor cycles of futurity,
Can augment, alter, or decrease--
Prince is He, the Prince of Peace.
He is earth's greatest Conqueror,
But conquers not with crimson sword;
Love is the weapon of His war,
Forgiveness, and gentle word;
But, greatest of all victories,
O'er the dark grave, His banner flies.