Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Hymn of the Hebrew Maid

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Arabia: Desert of Arabia

Hymn of the Hebrew Maid

By Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

(Rebecca’s Hymn from Ivanhoe)

WHEN Israel, of the Lord beloved,

Out from the land of bondage came,

Her fathers’ God before her moved,

An awful guide in smoke and flame.

By day, along the astonished lands

The cloudy pillar glided slow;

By night, Arabia’s crimsoned sands

Returned the fiery column’s glow.

There rose the choral hymn of praise,

And trump and timbrel answered keen,

And Zion’s daughters poured their lays,

With priest’s and warrior’s voice between.

No portents now our foes amaze,—

Forsaken Israel wanders lone;

Our fathers would not know thy ways,

And thou hast left them to their own.

But, present still, though now unseen,

When brightly shines the prosperous day,

Be thoughts of thee a cloudy screen,

To temper the deceitful ray.

And, O, when stoops on Judah’s path

In shade and storm the frequent night,

Be thou, long-suffering, slow to wrath,

A burning and a shining light!

Our harps we left by Babel’s streams,—

The tyrant’s jest, the Gentile’s scorn;

No censer round our altar beams,

And mute are timbrel, trump, and horn.

But thou hast said, the blood of goats,

The flesh of rams, I will not prize,—

A contrite heart and humble thoughts

Are mine accepted sacrifice.