The Best We All Can Do (For John Henry Newman)

Thy best has done its best, thy worst its worst:
Thy best its best, please God, thy best its best.

(Christina Rossetti, “Cardinal Newman”)

When near to death, perhaps he saw the veil
Lift off from Moses’ face, reveal the shine
Which glimmered there, the presence of the Light –
The kindly light of truth – reflecting full
Where other times it had seemed faint and dim.

Perhaps he knew then full what once in part
Had beguiled his mind and kept it turning;
Perhaps all his apologies were now
Fulfilled and made redundant by the face
That shone full now before his lifting shame.

If he was right where other men were wrong,
Or in his best attempts he had defiled
What others knew and longed for him to know;
If Oxford had moved swiftly to the truth
That others in their middle way forgot –

It never was enough nor far too much
A claim to lay before the throne, the Cross,
Where all our best attempts shall be forgot
And all our follies nailed or else refined,
Save that we trusted and that we proclaimed

This saving truth – Christ Jesus is His name.

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