Happy meeting, Sister Schoolmate,
Let us pause a moment here,
In this Temple, memory-hallowed,
And ’mongst scenes so strangely dear.
For the time has come for parting,
Time to leave the dear old place,
Each to choose a separate calling,
Each to run a separate race.
We are loosing from our moorings
On the calm and golden shore,
We are drifting toward mid-ocean
Where the winds and breakers roar.
Where are treacherous shoals and quicksands,
Beetling cliffs and sunken rocks;
Where are shadows, glooms, and tempests,
Lightning gleams, and thunder-shocks.
All the past in hues of brightness
Lies behind us evermore;
Like a desert rough and stormy
All the future lies before!
From our lives is slowly melting
Girlhood’s happy Spring away,
And we stand amid the dawning
Of a new and dubious day:
Each to fill a post of action
On a stage of passion wide,
Each to mingle mid the wrestlers
In a life we have not tried!
All the innocent affections,
And the dreams of youth must fade,
And our hearts gain new impressions,
And our lives a deeper shade.
We must form new ties of friendship,
Live mid other hopes and dreams,
Twine our loves round other objects,
Draw our lives from other streams.
And the world is not all sunny,
All its anchorings not secure,
Fair appearance not all truthful,
Human nature not all pure;
Therefore, let us pause a moment
In this dear old hallowed pile,
Let us brace our souls for action
Ere we enter on the toil;
Fondly gather up the fragments
Of the sadly vanished joys,
Safely store them in our memories
Mid the treasures which we prize.
Yes, my schoolmate, let us store them
As we would the summer flowers,
Whose shrunk, withered leaves will yield us
Perfume sweet in winter’s hours.
So that when deceit would lure us,
Sin o’ercome or passion rule,
Like a monitor before us
May arise the Sabbath School.
Let us, hand in hand, a moment
Dream that we are girls again,
In our stiff white frocks and tippets
Tripping gaily up the lane;
With the glorious landscape round us,
Mossy hills and woody dells,
Smiling back the cloudless sunshine,
Vocal with the chant of bells.
And above us the great Spirit
Breathing airs of summer balm,
And the village ’neath us basking
In the Sabbath’s holy calm!
Let us enter through the portal,
Sit among the children there,
Hear the Teacher’s words of counsel,
Read the Bible, kneel in prayer.
Hear the preacher’s exhortations
To the eager, listening throng,
And a note of hearty voices
Wafting up the thrill of song.
Ah! the many scenes and lessons,
With the teacher’s prayers and tears,
Will come back like revelations
To our hearts in after years.
Yes, and well we shall remember,
Wheresoe’er our feet may stray,
All the glory and the triumph
Of our annual festal day:
When we stood in snowy garments
On our mimic stage and sang,
While the glad assemblage listened,
And the mellow music rang.
When our heads were hung with ringlets,
And our polished faces shone.
Ah! those days were days of gladness,
Sunny landmarks every one!
And we oft shall see, when dreaming,
Faces that we loved of yore,
Darling forms, whose light has faded
From our school for evermore:
Some who went in life’s gay morning,
Others in its glowing prime,
And the aged, whose feet grown weary,
Stumbled on the path of Time.
We shall see them as we saw them,
Growing day by day more weak;
With the light of sunset stealing
O’er the ever-paling cheek!
Waiting till a shining angel
Came and snatched the light away,
And their bodies went to mingle
With their senseless kindred clay.
And our buoyant hearts grew saddened,
As we saw them mutely borne
To the place where oft in twilight
Came the sad bereaved to mourn.
Ah! but not beneath the willows,
Where repose the dead of years,
Must we look for those who, drooping,
Left us in this vale of tears.
Far above the silent mountains,
Sleeping in the calm moonlight,
Far above the azure welkin,
Where the stars are gleaming bright;
Far beyond the last dark river
Are their raptured spirits gone,
Fled to join that mighty army
With the snow-white raiment on;
Where their sun no more goes downward,
Nor their moon withdraws from sight,
Where the Lord their God for ever
Is their glory and their light.
Where they dread no more the tempest
Feel no more the heat or cold;
Never droop in life’s fair summer,
Never grow infirm or old.
Where affliction, pain, and anguish,
Sorrow, sighing, change, and death,
Fierce temptation, sin, and Satan,
Come no more with blighting breath.
Where the lights they deem the brightest
Are not soonest gloomed with shade;
Where the forms they love the dearest
Are not first to change or fade.
Where they hear no sound of weeping,
Nor the solemn funeral knell;
Never feel the throes of parting,
Never breathe a sad farewell.
Where all tears are dried for ever,
And, each fiery trial o’er,
Where they sing redemption’s story,
Veil their faces and adore.
Where the buds from earth transplanted
Gem with flowers the raptured shore,
And the tired and weary-hearted
Rest in peace for evermore.
Yes, and these are but the first-fruits
Of the harvest that shall rise
From our Sabbath institutions
To that home above the skies.
But while they are safely landed,
We are weakly plodding here,
Sport of every gale of sorrows,
Full of sin and doubt and fear.
Oh! my heart grows cold within me
As I look adown the years
Looming dimly in the future,
Shadows gloomed and wet with tears.
Many a head may have grown hoary,
Wrinkled many a sunny brow,
Many a footstep weak and feeble
That is light and buoyant now;
Many a voice have lost its cadence,
Many an eye its lustrous light,
Many a hand forgot its cunning,
Many a dear one passed from sight.
Sad we may have grown and weary,
Ere again we view this temple,
If we ever view it more.
Well, but let us start undaunted
With the Bible in our hand;
Firmly rooted, surely grounded
In the faith by which we stand.
Ever keep our hearts untarnished,
Full of hope and love and truth;
And preserve through life’s experience
All the purity of youth.
And, alike amid the brightness
And the sorrow and despair,
In the silence of our closets
Let us seek the Lord in prayer,
And commit our way unto him,
With a conscience pure and true;
Look in faith for every blessing,
And He’ll bring us safely through.
And if we no more, my schoolmate,
Stand within this sacred fane,
If we fall amid the battle,
Ne’er to meet on earth again—
Far beyond this scene of conflict,
Free from sorrow, oh, how sweet!
When the angel-hosts shall, singing,
Gather home the weary feet
Of the teachers and the scholars,
From the mountain and the glade,
From the desert and the ocean,
Wheresoe’er their feet have strayed—
We shall meet in joy and wonder,
And the song of rapture swell;
Now, farewell, my gentle schoolmate,
Farewell—a long farewell!