James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

January 31

Laus Deo!

By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

  • The resolution on the Amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery was adopted on Jan. 31, 1865. These lines were composed by Whittier on hearing the bells ring on that occasion and as he said himself, “it wrote itself, or rather sang itself, while the bells rang.”

  • IT is done!

    Clang of bell and roar of gun

    Send the tidings up and down.

    How the belfries rock and reel!

    How the great guns, peal on peal,

    Fling the joy from town to town!

    Ring, O bells!

    Every stroke exulting tells

    Of the burial hour of crime.

    Loud and long, that all may hear,

    Ring for every listening ear

    Of Eternity and Time!

    Let us kneel:

    God’s own voice is in that peal,

    And this spot is holy ground.

    Lord, forgive us! What are we,

    That our eyes this glory see,

    That our ears have heard the sound!

    For the Lord

    On the whirlwind is abroad;

    In the earthquake he has spoken;

    He has smitten with his thunder

    The iron walls asunder,

    And the gates of brass are broken!

    Loud and long

    Lift the old exulting song;

    Sing with Miriam by the sea

    He has cast the mighty down;

    Horse and rider sink and drown;

    “He hath triumphed gloriously!”

    Did we dare,

    In our agony of prayer,

    Ask for more than He has done?

    When was ever his right hand

    Over any time or land

    Stretched as now beneath the sun?

    How they pale,

    Ancient myth and song and tale,

    In this wonder of our days,

    When the cruel rod of war

    Blossoms white with righteous law,

    And the wrath of man is praise!

    Blotted out!

    All within and all about

    Shall a fresher life begin;

    Freer breathe the universe

    As it rolls its heavy curse

    On the dead and buried sin!

    It is done!

    In the circuit of the sun

    Shall the sound thereof go forth.

    It shall bid the sad rejoice,

    It shall give the dumb a voice,

    It shall belt with joy the earth!

    Ring and swing,

    Bells of joy! On morning’s wing

    Send the song of praise abroad!

    With a sound of broken chains

    Tell the nations that He reigns,

    Who alone is Lord and God!