The Recollect Church

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Quickly are crumbling the old gray walls,
  Soon the last stone will be gone,
The olden church of the Recollects,
  We shall look no more upon;
And though, perchance, some stately pile
  May rise its place to fill,
With carven piers and lofty towers,
  Old Church, we shall miss thee still!

Though not like Europe’s ancient fanes,
  Moss-grown and ivied o’er
Bearing long centuries’ darkened stains
  On belfry and turrets hoar—
A hundred years and more hast thou
  Thy shadow o’er us cast;
And we claim thee in our country’s youth
  As a land-mark of the past.

Thou’st seen the glittering Fleur-de-lys
  Fling out its folds on high
From old Dalhousie’s fortress hill,
  Against the morning sky;
And, later, the gleam of an English flag
  From its cannon-crowned brow,—
That flag which, despite the changing years,
  Floateth proudly o’er us now.

Thou’st seen the dark-browed Indians, too,
  Thronging each narrow street,
In their garb so strangely picturesque,
  Their gaily moccassined feet;
And beside them gentle helpmates stood,
  Dark-hued, with soft black eyes,
In blanket robes, with necklets bright—
  Large beads of brilliant dyes.

Thou’st seen our city far outgrow
  The bounds of its ancient walls,
In beauty growing and in wealth,
  And free from early thralls,
Till round Mount Royal’s queenly heights,
  That stretch toward the sky,
In pomp and splendor, beauteous homes
  Of luxury closely lie.

Within this time-worn portal prayed
  The sons of differing creeds,
And unto God, in various ways,
  Made known their various needs.
Better dwell thus in brotherly love,
  All seeking one common weal,
Than stir the stormy waters of strife
  Through hasty and misjudged zeal.

And for many years the exiles lone,
  Who landed upon our shore
From Erin’s green and sunny isle,
  Did here their God adore;
And laid their aching sad hearts bare
  To His kind, pitying gaze,
And prayed to Him in this new strange land
  For better and brighter days.

And humble Recollect Friars here
  Their matins recited o’er,
And glided with noiseless, sandalled feet
  O’er the chapel’s sacred floor;
Again, at the close of day they met,
  Amid clouds of incense dim
And the softened, rays of tapers’ blaze,
  To sing their evening hymn.

They and their order have passed away
  From among their fellow-men.
Little recked they for earth’s joys or gains,
  On heaven bent their ken.
The lowly church that has borne their name
  So faithfully to the last,
Linked with our city’s young days, like them,
  Will henceforth be of the past.

© Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon