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

By Hymns. VII. “The sound of war! In earth and air”

Reginald Heber (1783–1826)

(Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity)

THE SOUND of war! In earth and air

The volleying thunders roll:

Their fiery darts the Fiends prepare,

And dig the pit, and spread the snare,

Against the Christian’s soul.

The Tyrant’s sword, the rack, the flame,

The scorner’s serpent tone,

Of bitter doubt the barbèd aim,

All, all conspire his heart to tame:

Force, fraud, and hellish fires assail

The rivets of his heavenly mail,

Amidst his foes alone.

Gods of the world! ye warrior host

Of darkness and of air,

In vain is all your impious boast,

In vain each missile lightning tost

In vain the Tempter’s snare!

Though fast and far your arrows fly

Though mortal nerve and bone

Shrink in convulsive agony,

The Christian can your rage defy:

Towers o’er his head Salvation’s crest,

Faith like a buckler guards his breast,

Undaunted, though alone.

’Tis past! ’tis o’er! in foul defeat

The Demon host are fled!

Before the Saviour’s mercy-seat,

(His live-long work of faith complete),

Their conqueror bends his head.

“The spoils Thyself hast gainèd, Lord!

I lay before Thy throne:

Thou wert my rock, my shield, my sword;

My trust was in Thy name and word:

’Twas in Thy strength my heart was strong;

Thy spirit went with mine along;

How was I then alone?”