The lights are out in hut and hall,
The darkness holds in close embrace
The land in which the deathless race
Of Jacob serves in brutal thrall.
In Palestina’s verdant veldt,
The Prince with God long time hath lain
Holding in death the loved domain
Where Abraham and Israel dwelt.
And here in Egypt’s sandy soil
His poor oppressed descendants grieve,
Who daily from their foes receive
A wage of buffets for their toil.
But God who counteth every tear
That falleth from the creature’s eye,
Has heard their agonising cry,
With tender sympathetic ear.
Before His unforgetful heart
Arises Abraham His friend,
And now the miseries must end
From which his seed are made to smart.
The midnight hour is stealing on,
The light has vanished in the west,
The land well guarded is at rest,
The business of the day is done.
The heavy breathing of the host
Surrounding Pharaoh’s throne and bed
Is mingled with the martial tread
Of those who sentinel his coast.
The day has passed for good and ill,
Forgotten trouble, toil, and strife,
The weals and woes of human life,
Its hopes, its fears; and all is still,
Except in Goshen, where heart-sore
The chosen people of I AM
With loins girded, eat the lamb
Within the blood-besprinkled door.
But this is all: for otherwise
The night is still, the land is drear,
The silver moon rides cold and clear
Thro’ cloudless star-bespangled skies.
Egyptia’s multitudes have slid
Unconscious into slumber-land,
The shadows fall across the sand
From pillar, sphinx, and pyramid.
As falls a bolt from out the blue,
As from the crag the kite doth throw
Herself upon the prey below,
As leaps the lion thickets through,
So from the battlements of heaven,
The cherub with his flaming brand
Falls on the death-devoted land,
To judgment mercilessly given.
No trumpet blast the dreamer quakes,
No hand unlocks his bolted door,
The victim passes, and no more
On earth to pain or pleasure wakes.
No sound disturbs the silence deep,
No faithful watchman sounds alarm,
No dream prognosticating harm
Rouses the nation out of sleep.
No thunderbolt of danger speaks,
No sudden clang of wrathful steel,
No angry ring of armed heel
The stupor of the midnight breaks.
The life destroying angel goes
With lightning speed about the land,
And by his fiery flaming brand
The life of every firstborn flows.
The pride of Pharaoh, oft reproved,
Has now its retribution met,
And all too late has his regret
By this catastrophy been moved.
Throughout the land is heard a cry
Like that of creature wild with pain,
That tears the atmosphere in twain,
And rises to the darksome sky.
From humble cot, from palace proud,
The wail upon the midnight breeze
Rolls like the roaring of the bise,
Or as the peal of thunder loud.
The firstborn son in every house
That does not bear the crimson sign
Feels thro his soul the thrust divine
Of righteous wrath, and helpless bows.
The pride that braved Jehovah’s rod
Is trodden in the open street,
And Pharaoh, full of vain conceit,
Has felt the heavy hand of God.
Within the blood besprinkled door
The sons of Israel retreat,
Where for their journey girt they eat
The roasted lamb, their thraldom’s o’er.
The wailing of the wounded heart,
Thro’ darkness falls upon the ear,
But safe from every form of fear
They wait the signal to depart.
A land of corn and wine and oil
Now, fills the vision of their souls,
For them the bell of freedom tolls
The final end of tears and toil.
The fiery lash that friendless fell
Across their shoulders, now no more
Shall them distress, for at their door
Jehovah stands, and all is well.
For long four hundred years their groan
Gave witness to the furnace hot
In which they served, and which had brought
Tears sympathetic from a stone.
But not on earth was found a friend
To lift a hand for their relief,
Or speak a word to swage their grief,
Or for them timely succour send.
But God, the God of Abraham,
Had seen their sorrows, heard their cries,
And wrought for them by prophet wise
His wonders in the land of Ham.
Now glorious hills and valleys green,
Theirs by the sovereign grace of God,
Shall by unfettered feet be trod.
When they have crossed the waste between.
The way is short, eleven days
Shall bring them to its borders fair;
E’en now they seem to scent the air,
And on the verdant mountains gaze.
The sunlit hills and vales expand
Before their vision from which spring
The crystal streams that sweetly sing
The glories of that holy land.
That goodly land! The little bit
Jehovah claims as His alone,
Where He shall one day place His throne,
On which His glorious Son shall sit.
That land on which His heart is set,
On which His eyes for ever rest,
And which the feet of Jesus pressed,
And by His blood and tears was wet.
That land that heard His groans and sighs,
That saw the sorrows of His soul,
When over Him the waves did roll,
While wrathful vapours veiled the skies.
Not yet for many centuries
The advent of the Christ shall be,
Nor till the universe shall see
Our human nature’s wilful ways
Set forth in these who by the might
Of God had been from fetters strong,
Set free to sing redemption’s song,
And dispossess the Canaanite.
Not yet had dawned the dreadful day,
Not yet had come to pass the hour
When Satan could put forth his power
And have with evil men his way.
Not one of them had ever dreamed
That one day their descendants should
Their hands have in the blood imbrued
Of their Messiah sore blasphemed.
This all remained for distant days
The evil heart of man to show,
That every living soul might know
And justify God’s perfect ways.
How He had wrought the nation good,
How He had dealt with them in grace,
And how they, even to His face,
His righteous judgments had withstood.
Pharaoh awakened from his bed,
In hopelessness of blank despair
Learns that his firstborn son, and heir
To his inheritance is dead.
It may be he himself shall be
The next by wrath divine to fall—
Then drink the wormwood and the gall,
And set Jehovah’s people free!
No creature may withstand His will.
Who hath against Him warred, and won?
Has He not said: Let go my son,
Or I thy son shall surely kill.
And now the threat has been fulfilled,
For stubbornness its doom must meet:
Thy horribly insane conceit
Thy son hath pitilessly killed.
Rise up, and bid the people go,
And compensate them for their toil,
And thereby penitential oil
Upon the wrathful waters throw.
No longer Pharaoh bars the way,
But rising in the bitter night
Their exodus will expedite
Before the dawning of the day.
His servants too with anxious mind,
And all the smitten land in woe,
Cry out for the oppressed to go,
And leave their benison behind.
To Moses, by their terror drawn,
They come, and falling at his feet,
Him with their tears and prayers entreat
To take his people and be gone.
They go, but not with flight: they rise
And march as victors from the land,
Their little children by the hand,
And everything they own and prize.
Wages withheld, arrears of old
On their demand in full are paid;
The stricken people freely lade
Them with their silver and their gold.
Egyptia’s people robbed, bereaved,
Might well look back when by the hand
Of Joseph God had, saved the land,
When famine fierce the nations grieved.
And how they since had recompensed
His people whom they should have prized,
And how with rigour exercised
Their gratitude was evidenced.
Four hundred years of tears and blood,
Four hundred years to sweat and slave,
Was the reward that Egypt gave
For an unutterable good.
Four hundred years in bondage spent,
Four hundred years to be despised,
And daily to have recognised
The cruelties men could invent.
Four hundred years in which to trace
The crazes of the autocrat,
Who with his fell advisers sat
To plan destruction to their race.
Four hundred years to feel the rod
Laid on their backs by rulers stern,
To be accursed and crushed, and learn
The patience of their fathers’ God.
To see the sun arise, and know
Their day of drudgery begun,
And at the setting of the sun
To meditate upon their woe;
To cast their offspring in the Nile,
And hide his helpless woes from sight,
Until his infant cries invite
The hunger of the crocodile.
And now from bitter bondage free,
By their almighty Saviour led,
With cloudy pillar at their head,
They take their journey to the sea.
No more shall they with terror hear
The voice of the oppressor strong,
No more shall suffer cruel wrong,
No more their flesh the lash shall fear!
Behind them lie the fields they trod
In uncompassioned wretchedness,
Behind them days of dire distress,
Before them God’s good land and God.
Of how the proud Egyptian rose,
As soon as he had heard they fled,
And after them with fury led
His warlike forces bellicose;
Of how the roaring sea was rent
In twain by mighty eastern blast,
And how they thro’ the waters passed,
Preserved by power omnipotent;
And how the whole Egyptian host
Followed in their presumptuous pride,
And how the overwhelming tide
Broke over their audacious boast;
Of how they fought against the wave
That whelmed them when afar from shore,
Of how they fell to rise no more,
From that dishonourable grave,
Of how that favoured race who were
The objects of Jehovah’s choice
Could later lift a rebel voice,
And e’en His righteous judgments dare;
And how their coward hearts declined
Encounter with the Canaanite,
Nor understood that all their might
Was in the living God enshrined;
And how He turned them back again
To wander in the wilderness,
Till it had swallowed pitiless
The carcasses of the profane;
And how for forty years He bore
Their provocations in the waste,
Before in mercy great He placed
Their weary feet in Canaan’s shore;
And how that host He daily fed
With bread that from the heavens fell,
And how He turned into a well
The rock, that crystal rivers shed;
And how He placed them in the land,
And how from Him they turned away,
And after idols went astray,
In spite of the divine command;
And how by them His prophets true
Who sought to turn them back again
To God, were scorned, despised, and slain,
Till wrath upon their souls they drew;
And how when came to earth the Son
Who brought the living Father near,
From Him they turned away the ear,
As their progenitors had done;
And how eventually they
Him madly to a gibbet nailed,
And crowding round His cross assailed
His ears with brutal blasphemy;
And how the Romans overthrew
Their city, and their temple burned,
Thousands destroyed ere home they turned,
And captive led the residue;
And how they have been rooted up,
And scattered thro’ the nations all,
And how the world beheld their fall,
And made them drink the bitter cup;
And how the word by prophets all
Had oft been spoken in their ears,
That vagabonds on earth, their tears
Would fast for their transgressions fall;
And how that word has been fulfilled,
And what deep sorrow they have seen,
And how like vermin they have been
In every nation cursed and killed;
And how when all to pass has come
Inertia fetters heart and mind,
To light divine the eyes are blind,
To God the soul is deaf and dumb:
All this in the prophetic word
In simple sentences is told;
While years as they have onward rolled
Have shown the wisdom of the Lord.
But yet the voice of prophecy
Foretells a future for the Jew,
When falls on them the heavenly dew
In that propitious coming day.
When their Messiah shall descend,
For their unspeakable relief,
Upon the world, as comes a thief,
Their foes to fight, their woes to end.
To them as Sun of Righteousness
He shall with healing on His wings
Appear, as One whose presence brings
For every cruel wrong redress.
He comes to heal the broken heart,
To wipe the tear from every eye,
To those that ready are to die
Life everlasting to impart;
To bid the pestilence take flight,
To dissipate the darkness crass,
To bid corroding griefs to pass,
And every horror of the night;
To sit enthroned on Zion’s hill,
To make accursed war to cease,
To introduce eternal peace,
And let no man his neighbour kill.
To fill with joy the human soul,
So that in songs that never end
Immortal praises shall ascend
In life to God from pole to pole.
How could we now to Thee be dumb
When for such days our spirits wait?
Come, Lord, we cry with longing great—
The Spirit and the Bride say, COME.