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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

A Hymn for Easter Eve

John Moultrie (1799–1874)

ALL is o’er,—the pain, the sorrow,

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.

Close and still the cell that holds him,

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.

Fierce and deadly was the anguish

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.

Whither hath his soul departed?

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?

Or on some benignant mission,

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!

Ask no more, the abyss is deeper

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.

Far away amidst the regions

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.

Far away; yet thought would wander

(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,

Haste, from every clime and nation,

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.

Mothers, ere the curtain closes

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.

Matron grave and blooming maiden,

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.

Men of God devoutly toiling

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.

Ye who roam o’er seas and mountains,

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.

Dwellers in the woods and valleys,

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.

From your halls of stately beauty,

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.

Lo, his grave! the grey rock closes

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.

And the morn with floods of splendour

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.

Bird and beast and insect rover,

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.

But the hearts that bowed before him

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.

All night long, with plaintive voicing,

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.”