W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.
A Hymn for Easter EveJohn Moultrie (17991874)
Human taunts, and fiendish spite,
Death shall be despoiled to-morrow
Of the prey he grasps to-night;
Yet, once more to seal his doom,
Christ must sleep within the tomb.
While in brief repose he lies;
Deep the slumber that infolds him,
Veiled awhile from mortal eyes,—
Slumber such as needs must be
After hard-won victory.
Which on yonder cross he bore;
How did soul and body languish,
Till the toil of death was o’er!
But that toil so fierce and dread,
Bruised and crushed the serpent’s head.
Roams it on some blissful shore,
Where the meek and faithful-hearted,
Vex’t by this world’s hate no more,
Wait until the trump of doom
Call their bodies from the tomb?
To the imprisoned spirit sent,
Hath he to their dark condition
Gleams of hope and mercy lent?
Souls not wholly lost of old
When o’er earth the deluge rolled!
E’en than angels’ thoughts may scan
Come and watch the heavenly Sleeper;
Come, and do what mortals can,
Reverence meet toward him to prove,
Faith and trust and humble love.
Of the bright and balmy East,
Guarded by angelic legions,
Till death’s slumber shall have ceased,
(How should we its stillness stir?)
Lies the Saviour’s sepulchre.
(Thought by faith’s sure guidance led)
Farther yet to weep, and ponder
Over that sepulchral bed.
Thither let us haste, and flee
On the wings of phantasy,
Fervent youth and reverent age;
Peasant, prince, each rank and station,
Haste and join this pilgrimage.
East and west, and south and north,
Send your saintliest spirits forth.
Round your children’s sleep to-night,
Tell them how their Lord reposes,
Waiting for to-morrow’s light;
Teach their dreams to him to rove,
Him who loved them, him they love.
Hoary sage and beardless boy,
Hearts with grief and care o’erladen,
Hearts brimful of hope and joy,
Come, and greet in death’s dark hall
Him who felt with, felt for all.
This world’s fetters to unbind,
Satan of his prey despoiling
In the hearts of human kind;
Let, to-night, your labours cease,
Give your careworn spirits peace.
Messengers of love and light;
Ye who guard truth’s sacred fountains,
Weary day and wakeful night;
Men of labour, men of lore,
Give your toils and studies o’er.
Ye of meek and lowly breast;
Ye who, pent in crowded alleys,
Labour early, late take rest;
Leave the plough and leave the loom;
Meet us at our Saviour’s tomb.
Sculptured roof and marble floor,
In this work of Christian duty
Haste, ye rich, and join the poor.
Mean and noble, bond and free,
Meet in frank equality.
O’er that virgin burial-ground;
Near it breathe the garden roses,
Trees funereal droop around,
In whose boughs the small birds rest,
And the stock-dove builds her nest.
Fills the spicy midnight air;
Tranquil sounds, and voices tender,
Speak of life and gladness there;
Ne’er was living thing, I wot,
Which our Lord regarded not.
E’en the lilies of the field,
Till his gentle life was over,
Heavenly thought to him could yield.
All that is, to him did prove
Food for wisdom, food for love.
Most of all to him were dear;
Let such hearts to-night watch o’er him
Till the dayspring shall appear.
Then a brighter sun shall rise
Than e’er kindled up the skies.
Chant his requiem soft and low;
Loftier strains of loud rejoicing
From to-morrow’s harps shall flow.
“Death and hell at length are slain,
Christ hath triumphed, Christ doth reign.”