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

The Flight into Egypt

John Moultrie (1799–1874)

THROUGH the desert wild and dreary,

Following tracks explored by few,

Sad at heart, and worn, and weary,

We our toilsome march pursue.

O’er our heads with blaze unclouded

Burns the fierce and fiery noon;

Pestilence in darkness shrouded

Near us walks beneath the moon.

O’er the steep and pathless mountain

Oft with bleeding feet we climb;

Scarce to taste the desert fountain—

Human hate allows no time.

Israel’s homes lie far behind us,

Yet we pause not to look back,

Lest the keen pursuer find us,

Lest grim murder scent our track.

Eagles o’er our heads are whirling,

Each careering towards her nest;

E’en the wolf and fox are stealing

To the covert of their rest;

Every foul and noxious creature

Finds on earth its lair and bed;

But the Infant Lord of Nature

Hath not where to lay his head.

Yes, my babe, sweet sleep enfolds Thee

On Thy fainting mother’s arm;

God in His great love beholds thee,

Angels guard thy rest from harm.

Earth and hell in vain beset Thee,

Kings against thy life conspire;

But our God can ne’er forget thee,

Nor His arm that shields thee, tire.

Where is now our peaceful dwelling?

Wrapt perchance in vengeful flame;

Ruffian voices round it yelling

Curses on thy gentle name.

Woe to Bethlehem’s matrons, keeping

Tenderest watch above their dead!

Rachel for her children weeping,

Knows not to be comforted.

Woe to them!—and yet their anguish

Fades before what mine must be;

Doom’d to see my lov’d one languish

Through this life’s long misery.

Doom’d to see Earth’s hate expended

On his meek and lowly head,

Till his weary task is ended—

Till his sinless blood is shed.

Heavenly hope shall soothe their sorrow,

When the grass begins to wave,

After many a dreary morrow,

Freshly o’er each infant grave.

I alone to rest a stranger,

Must behold with aching eye,

O’er my child distress and danger

Gathering still incessantly.

But forbear, my sinful spirit,

Of thy chastening to complain;

Gladly let me here inherit

Toil and sorrow, care and pain!

Welcome Earth’s most dread vexations!

Welcome anguish and distress!

Since my name all generations

For a Saviour’s love shall bless.