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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Hymns. IV. “Forward! be our watchword”

Henry Alford (1810–1871)


FORWARD! be our watchword,

Steps and voices join’d;

Seek the things before us,

Not a look behind;

Burns the fiery pillar

At our army’s head;

Who shall dream of shrinking,

By Jehovah led?

Forward through the desert,

Through the toil and fight;

Jordan flows before us,

Zion beams with light!

Forward, when in childhood

Buds the infant mind;

All through youth and manhood,

Not a thought behind;

Speed through realms of nature,

Climb the steps of grace;

Faint not, till around us

Gleams the Father’s face.

Forward, all the life-time,

Climb from height to height,

Till the head be hoary,

Till the eve be light.

Forward, flock of Jesus,

Salt of all the earth,

Till each yearning purpose

Spring to glorious birth;

Sick, they ask for healing,

Blind, they grope for day;

Pour upon the nations

Wisdom’s loving ray,

Forward, out of error,

Leave behind the night:

Forward through the darkness,

Forward into light.

Glories upon glories

Hath our God prepared,

By the souls that love Him

One day to be shared;

Eye hath not beheld them,

Ear hath never heard;

Nor of these hath utter’d

Thought or speech a word.

Forward, marching eastward,

Where the heaven is bright,

Till the veil be lifted,

Till our faith be sight!

Far o’er yon horizon

Rise the city towers,

Where our God abideth,

That fair home is ours;

Flash the streets with jasper,

Shine the gates with gold;

Flows the gladdening river,

Shedding joys untold.

Thither, onward thither,

In Jehovah’s might;

Pilgrims to your country,

Forward into Light!

Into God’s high Temple

Onward as we press,

Beauty spreads around us,

Born of holiness

Arch, and vault, and carving,

Lights of varied tone;

Soften’d words and holy,

Prayer and praise alone:

Every thought upraising

To our City bright,

Where the tribes assemble

Round the throne of Light.

Nought that City needeth

Of these aisles of stone:

Where the Godhead dwelleth,

Temple there is none:

All the saints that ever

In these courts have stood,

Are but babes, and feeding

On the children’s food.

On through sign and token,

Stars amidst the night;

Forward through the darkness,

Forward into light!

To the Father’s glory

Loudest anthems raise;

To the Son and Spirit

Echo songs of praise:

To the Lord Jehovah,

Blessèd Three in One,

Be by men and angels

Endless honour done.

Weak are earthly praises,

Dull the songs of night,

Forward into triumph,

Forward into light!