Like a refiner's fire

Pascal Lauener / Reuters

For today's Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the first scripture was taken from the prophet Malachi, 3:1-4.  Many will be familiar with this text from hearing it sung as an aria in the first part of Handel's Messiah.  

Before Mass one of my lectors asked if I were familiar with the poem, The Refiner's Fire. I was not and before she left church today she emailed me the text! (Thank you, JE-Q!)  I'm pleased to share it with you here and, following the poem, the aria from Messiah, too.

The Refiner's Fire
A.F. Ingler

He sat by a furnace of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore.
And closer He bent with a searching gaze,
As He heated it more and more.

He knew He had ore that could stand the test
And He wanted the finest gold,
To mold as a crown, for the king to wear,
Set with gems of price untold.

So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Tho' we fain would say Him "nay."
And watched the dross that we had not seen
As it melted and passed away.

And the gold grew brighter and got more bright,
But our eyes were dim with tears,
We saw but the fire, not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.

Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow
As it mirrored a form above,
That bent o'er the fire, though unseen by us
With a look of ineffable love.

Can we think it pleases His loving heart
To cause us moments of pain?
Ah, no! But He sees through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.

So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure.
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat
Than was needed to make it pure.


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