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We spend our lives as a tale that is told in a lonely watch of the night,
Like a changing story written down on the pages, pure and white,
By a flickering taper giving out its weak, uncertain light.


The days of our years, ah! these the links of which the chain is wrought,
With the heart's deep feeling intertwined and the mind's unceasing thought,
Each hath its romance interwove with its own peculiar plot.


They are strangest stories, these lives of ours, that our aching hands have penned,
Success and failure, joy and grief, through their mystical mazes blend,
Strength, labor, and sorrow, their broken thread from beginning unto end.


O, many a blot and sad mistake do the pages white contain,
And the things we are writing with feeble hands, we may never erase again,
'Till our living chapters are brought to light from the dark where they long have lain!


Many critic eyes on the story gaze, but they cannot read the whole,
Not 'till the hidden histories shall the hand of God unroll,
Not 'till the eye of God shall read and perfect the blotted scroll.


He shall correct the sad mistakes we have thoughtlessly put therein,
He shall the hateful blots erase, till as white as when we begin,
Nor cast the work of our lives aside for aught but uncanceled sin.


Then shall the loving angels read, with their vision deep and clear,
The beautiful, faultless chapters kept of every erring year,
When in the archives of all time, our humble lives shall appear.