Dark was the world when from the bowers
Of forfeit Eden man went forth,
With aching heart and blighted powers,
To till the sterile soil of earth;
Yet, even then, a glimmering light
Faintly illumed the eastern skies,
And, struggling through the mists of night,
Beamed soft on Abel’s sacrifice.
It shone on Abram’s eager eyes
Upon Moriah’s lonely height,
And Jacob, ‘neath the midnight skies,
In hallowed dreams beheld its light;
And o’er Arabia’s desert sand
Where weary Israel wandered on,
In doubt and fear toward Canaan’s land,
The hallowed dawning brighter shone.
Ages roll on ‘mid deep’ning day,
And prophet-bard and holy seer
Watch eagerly the kindling ray,
To see the blessed sun appear–
Watch, till along the mountain-heights
The long-expected radiance streams,
And lo! a bloody Cross it lights,
And o’er a blood-stained victim gleams!
And higher climbed the rising sun,
And brighter glowed the joyous day,
And Earth the bowed and weary one
Kindled beneath the blessed ray
A little while–then, dense and drear,
Back rolled the heavy clouds of night,
Till through the murky atmosphere
Scarce stole a single gleam of light
Then Superstition piled her fires
With slaughtered saints,–and dungeons lone
Echoed the tortured victims’ prayers,
The stifled shriek, the smothered groan:
Yet ever, Truth, through blood and tears,
Pursued her dark, tempestuous way,
And Faith illumed those stormy years,
With promises of brighter day.
It came at last–through parted clouds
The blessed sunlight burst once more,
And a broad flood of glory swept
O’er vale and plain, o’er sea and shore;
Earth, from her wildering dream of tears,
And blood and anguish, guilt and wrong–
The long, dark, troubled dream of years–
Awoke, and once again was strong.
Then crumbled thrones–then empires fell,
As Science, Freedom, Truth, arose,
And, shaking off their numbing spell,
Closed in stern conflict with their foes:
And onward still, with unbowed head,
Faith’s dauntless legions held their way,
Marking with heaps of martyred dead
The pathway that behind them lay.
And still that steady march is on,
Through storm and gloom, through strife and tears.
Still Faith points upward to the sun
Whose glories brighten with the years–
Whose steady light and heat at length
Shall scatter every cloud away,
And Truth, majestic in her strength,
Shall stand complete in perfect day.