The Fear of God

The Fear of God – Frederick Faber (1814-1863)

My fear of Thee, O Lord, exults
Like life within my veins,
A fear which rightly claims to be
One of love’s sacred pains.

Thy goodness to Thy saints of old
An awful thing appeared;
For were Thy majesty less good
Much less would it be feared.

There is no joy the soul can meet
Upon life’s various road
Like the sweet fear that sits and shrinks
Under the eye of God.

A special joy is in all love
For objects we revere;
Thus joy in God will always be
Proportioned to our fear.

Oh Thou art greatly to be feared,
Thou art so prompt to bless!
The dread to miss such love as Thine
Makes fear but love’s excess.

The fulness of Thy mercy seems
To fill both land and sea;
If we can break through bounds so vast,
How exiled shall we be!

For grace is fearful, which each hour
Our path in life has crossed;
If it were rarer, it might be
Less easy to be lost.

But fear is love, and love is fear,
And in and out they move;
But fear is an intenser joy
Than mere unfrightened love.

When most I fear Thee, Lord! then most
Familiar I appear;
And I am in my soul most free,
When I am most in fear.

I should not love Thee as I do:
If love might make more free;
Its very sweetness would be lost
In greater liberty.

I feel Thee most a father, when
I fancy Thee most near:
And Thou comest not so nigh in love
As Thou comest, Lord! in fear.

They love Thee little, if at all,
Who do not fear Thee much;
If love is Thine attraction, Lord!
Fear is Thy very touch.

Love could not love Thee half so much
If it found Thee not so near;
It is thy nearness, which makes love
The perfectness of fear.

We fear because Thou art so good,
And because we can sin;
And when we make most show of love,
We are trembling most within.

And Father! when to us in heaven
Thou shalt Thy Face unveil,
Then more than ever will our souls
Before Thy goodness quail.

Our blessedness will be to bear
The sight of Thee so near,
And thus eternal love will be
But the ecstasy of fear.

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