night, dark night! a solemn stillness reigns
O’er Egypt’s land; the midnight hour is come,
Whilst Pharaoh’s disobedience still detains
Against God’s will, his people; such a doom
Ne’er fell on land, and ne’er will fall again.
These were the words divine, which Moses gave
To Egypt’s king, and court; but all in vain.
His heart is hardened, nothing now can save
The land from desolation; for ‘twas He,
The Immutable, who gave this dread command—
Death in his stead shall reign; Eternity
Shall swallow up the first-born of the land!
But hard and harder grew the tyrant's heart;—
No fear of God had ever entered there;
Not love, but tyranny, forbade him part
With Israel’s children; how could man so dare
Against high Heaven’s designs, his own to place
In competition! what, but want of fear
Of that high Power, could with unblushing face
Have made him tempt Omnipotence, and rear
His haughty head? but God in wisdom knew,
In wisdom infinite, divinely planned;—
Th’ eternal mind already had in view
Glorious redemption—infinitely grand.
Oh great deliverance! what love too great,
What gratitude of ours can e’er repay
The mercy which released us from that state
Of servile bondage and tyrannic sway?
In every house is silence most profound,—
Th’ Egyptians sleep—not so the chosen race—
Who, all prepared, now wait without a sound,
Whilst anxious hope is pictured on each face.
Now suddenly along the midnight air
A low and piteous wailing first is borne,
Then loud and fearful shrieks of sad despair
Echo from house to house, where death has gone.
Swiftly upon the sable wing of night
The angel has gone forth; upon his brow
No pity can be traced; for in his sight
The prince and meanest slave are equalled now.
Then Pharaoh’s voice, amid the general cry,
In grief and haste for Moses loudly called;
Moses and Aaron he implored to fly,
For death surrounds him, and he stands appalled.
Then did the Israelites come forth as one,
Their wives, their children—cattle in arrear;
In silence and in haste their flight began,
They marched triumphant, for their God was near.
He was their only guide by night and day;
A cloud by day—a pillar of fire by night!
Thus gloriously He led them on their way,
And thus He ever keeps us in His sight.
Now scarce encamped beside the sea, they view
With dread and horror Pharaoh and his host;
His chariots and his horsemen all pursue,
To overtake them ere they reach the coast.
But what are human plans, if God oppose?
”Fear not,” then Moses said, “but wait and see
Salvation of the Lord; for these our foes
Will never more on earth be seen by thee.”
He scarce had said, when at the voice of God,
The sea divides—they walk upon dry land!
Then, at the voice Divine, he lifts his rod,
Two upright walls of sea majestic stand.
The cloud, which until now, had gone before,
Suddenly changes its resplendent light.
The Israelites now crossed,—the sea once more
Resumes its place, but in the Egyptians’ sight
That light is darkness now; for all is seen
Dark on that side, where Pharaoh’s horsemen dash
Onward with rapid speed; while still between,
That cloud remains. A loud and fearful crash!
Another and another quick succeeds.
’Tis God who fights against them; vain the thought
To flee from Israel’s face; for whence proceeds
Such wondrous power, if not from God who fought
On Israel’s side? who safe had reached the shore.
Ere morning’s faintest blush began to spread
They saw the Egyptians sink to rise no more,—
Not one that was not numbered with the dead.
Then all the multitude, with one accord,
Joined Moses in a loud and heartfelt cry
Of gratitude and praises to the Lord;
They sang to Him who “triumphed gloriously.”