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

By Belshazzar (1822). Hymn of the Captive Jews

Henry Hart Milman (1791–1868)

GOD of thunder! from whose cloudy seat

The fiery winds of desolation flow;

Father of vengeance! that with purple feet,

Like a full wine-press, tread’st the world below;

The embattled armies wait the sign to slay,

Nor springs the beast of havock on his prey,

Nor withering Famine walks his blasted way,

Till thou the guilty land hast sealed for wo.

God of the rainbow! at whose gracious sign

The billows of the proud their rage suppress;

Father of mercies! at one word of thine

An Eden blooms in the waste wilderness!

And fountains sparkle in the arid sands,

And timbrels ring in maidens’ glancing hands,

And marble cities crown the laughing lands,

And pillared temples rise thy name to bless.

O’er Judah’s land thy thunders broke, O Lord!

The chariots rattled o’er her sunken gate,

Her sons were wasted by the Assyrian sword,

Even her foes wept to see her fallen state;

And heaps her ivory palaces became,

Her princes wore the captive’s garb of shame,

Her temple sank amid the smouldering flame,

For thou didst ride the tempest-cloud of fate.

O’er Judah’s land thy rainbow, Lord, shall beam,

And the sad city lift her crownless head;

And songs shall wake, and dancing footsteps gleam,

Where broods o’er fallen streets the silence of the dead.

The sun shall shine on Salem’s gilded towers,

On Carmel’s side our maidens cull the flowers,

To deck, at blushing eve, their bridal bowers,

And angel-feet the glittering Sion tread.

Thy vengeance gave us to the stranger’s hand,

And Abraham’s children were led forth for slaves;

With fettered steps we left our pleasant land,

Envying our fathers in their peaceful graves.

The stranger’s bread with bitter tears we steep,

And when our weary eyes should sink to sleep,

’Neath the mute midnight we steal forth to weep,

Where the pale willows shade Euphrates’ waves.

The born in sorrow shall bring forth in joy;

Thy mercy, Lord, shall lead thy children home;

He that went forth a tender yearling boy,

Yet, ere he die, to Salem’s streets shall come.

And Canaan’s vines for us their fruits shall bear,

And Hermon’s bees their honied stores prepare:

And we shall kneel again in thankful prayer,

Where o’er the cherub seated God, full blazed the irradiate dome.