God give you joy!–you whom I thought I loved,
And love too much to wish the slightest grief—
Give you, whose burdens I would rather bear
Than see God’s glory in your face grow dim
Beneath the smallest shadow, tear, or frown,
That joy that I in you but briefly glimpsed,
As though (as I now understand at last)
I saw a house-light’s glare over a hill,
And God has brought you thither, made it yours,
And opened up your door—When I shall find,
Or if I find, that joy that you deserve,
I do not know, but if one grief-filled year
Could save you but one hour of heartache’s tears,
How could I not—Beloved in the Lord,
Beloved friend, dear heart: God give you joy!

How blest is he whose hand you hold in peace,
As God in perfect providence ordains,
Whose orbit in the starry Dance you share—
Most fortunate of all men in this age,
Or so my heart has been inclined to say.
But as in those conjunctions seen above,
Though I can see but little of the plan,
God’s ways are best, and glory steals my breath,
Makes troubles light, and stirs my fondness brighter.
How happy he—and may he give God thanks,
And ever share in that joy you now bring.

With longing grown to melancholy wont,
My human heart can hardly but regret …
But you are happy, and God’s plan is clear,
And therefore I, obeying him, rejoice.
And Christ is all, and he has given you,
Who are so dear, this earthly joy besides,
So thankful praise must wash away my tears,
And confidence from faith drive out my fear.
If I would even pray to bear a cross
That your joy might be at less earthly cost,
And prayed for whom God might be pleased to send,
Now he has sent you joy in answer, though I weep,
In thanks I, hands outstretched, repeat, “Amen.”

Unlike nearly every poem I have written on a subject related to weddings or love, including at least two poems I wrote to give as wedding presents, this poem was not written with any particular person even remotely in mind. I began it at the end of September last year, after listening to almost the entirety of the YouTube channel of the music of Tim Halperin. (I suspect at the time one particular song inspired me, but by now I have certainly forgotten which.) Then earlier this year, in mid-February, when going through my collection of unfinished poems, I came on it, listened to a bunch of those songs again to get me “back in the mood” of the original composition, and brought it to its present form.

The Wedding Register by Edmund Blair Leighton

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.


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