In the Fourth Watch of the Night.

St. Matthew xiv. 22—23.

Lo, in the moonless night,1
In the rough wind’s despite,2
They ply the oar.3
Keen gusts smite in their teeth ;4
The hoarse waves chafe beneath5
With muffled roar.6
Numb fingers, failing force,7
Scarce serve to hold the course8
Hard-won half-way,9
When o’er the tossing tide,10
Pallid and heavy-eyed,11
Scowls the dim day.12
And now in the wan light,13
Walking the waters white,14
A shape draws near.15
Each soul, in troubled wise,16
Staring with starting eyes,17
Cries out for fear.18
Each grasps his neighbour tight,19
In helpless huddled fright20
Shaken and swayed.21
And lo ! the Master nigh22
Speaks softly, “ It is I ;23
Be not afraid.”24
E’en so to us that strain25
Over life’s moaning main26
Thou drawest near,27
And, knowing not Thy guise,28
We gaze with troubled eyes,29
And cry for fear.30
A strange voice whispers low,31
This joy must thou forego,32
Thy first and best.”33
A shrouded phantom stands34
Crossing the best-loved hands35
For churchyard rest.36
Then, soft as is the fall37
Of that white gleaming pall38
By snowflakes made,39
Stilling each startled cry,40
Thou speakest, “ It is I ;41
Be not afraid.”42