A Conventicle in Snow Time
A DEEP-TONED, bitter, sullen wind was sweeping,
Across the upland waste;
Each living thing its covert close was keeping,
Or sought it in its haste.
Yet, when the swirling, drifted snow was filling
Each cave and sheltered nook,
A solemn, plaintive strain of praise came thrilling
Up from an ice-bound brook.
A remnant, sore-bested, had come together,
To mourn, and watch, and pray,
Unmindful of the wind and dreary weather
Of that wild, wrathful day.
A valiant and a famous standard-bearer
Was lately done to death; —
One, who of many perils was a sharer,
Had spent his latest breath.
It was a time of sorrow, dread, and grieving,
To those heart-stricken men;
And they had met, their burdened souls relieving,
Up in that stormy glen.
A youth of comely form and mien arising,
The gospel message told.
In fervour nought withholding, nought disguising,
Like faithful seer of old.
All in the wintry wind and snow-drift standing,
With cold and frost distrest,
His earnest voice, the heart and ear commanding,
Moved every captive breast.
For higher gifts of hope and faith he pleaded —
For greater love and zeal;
Not vainly uttered; not unfelt, unheeded,
Passed the sublime appeal!
On him and all around the snow was falling,
Yet there they held their place.
Though, overhead, the winter-blast appalling
Pursued its rapid chase.
From morn to darkling eve they clung together,
Unwilling to depart;
The saintly love they bore to one another
Had bound them heart to heart.
And yet, a higher sentiment withheld them
From courting selfish rest;
The love of Him whose friendly eye beheld them
Unworthy thought represt.
Oh, boast not men whose heartless, cruel mission
Was tracking such as these,
To gratify a tyrant’s wrong ambition —
His bigot whims to please!
And, tell us not of chivalry and daring,
Or deeds of valour done;
When, at the price of cruelty unsparing,
The palm of fame was won!
Swift come the season, when the deep devotion
Of those who braved the rage
Of banded furies, roused to fell commotion,
Shall every heart engage!
Be not far hence, bright day, when holier feeling
The world wide shall control,
And love unstinted, to the heart appealing,
Shall mould each kindred soul.
For, wheresoever PIETY is cherished,
And loved by young and old,
The grand old memories of martyrs perished
Are treasured and extolled!
— David McAllister, Poets and Poetry of the Covenant, pp. 212-214