Home  »  The Poets’ Bible  »  Nativity of John the Baptist

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

Nativity of John the Baptist

Gerard Moultrie (1829–1885)

HERALD of Christ, the day is come,

Day by prophetic lips foretold,

When from the shadow of the tomb

The page of life shall be unrolled:

The daylight dawns: the bright beams glow;

First witness of that light art thou.

Greatest among the sons of clay,

Less than the least in heaven’s domain,

Last of the old world, called away

Ere God in man restores His reign:

Thou seest the dawn climb up the skies,

Yet may’st not see the Sun arise.

Those beams shall tint the humblest cot,

Shall flood the plains of earth with light,

Thou may’st not feel them: ’tis thy lot

To stand upon the skirts of night:

Didst thou not long to see that morn?

Rejoice: thou seest the daylight dawn.

Through the bright gates of orient pearl

Elias drives his fiery car,

On thee his mantle may unfurl

With spirit and with power from far:

Jordan for thee may part once more,

But earth lies on the farther shore.

’Tis thine in desert paths to stand

And cry, “The Lord’s highway prepare!

Heaven’s promised kingdom is at hand,

Make straight the rugged pathways there:

Lay low the hills His steps before,

Who comes with fan to purge His floor.

“Upon the hills I hear His feet:

He comes to burn the chaff with fire,

And He will gather in His wheat

Upon the day of wrath and ire:

The axe is laid unto the root,

Woe to the tree that bears no fruit!”

Stern accents of the law of fear,

Last threatening accents from above,

Sole birthday in the Church’s year

Which veils in death the law of love;

Our God to light for all who die

Brings life and immortality.