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Anti-Slavery Poems
Hymn: "Thou, whose presence went before"

by John Greenleaf Whittier

Written for the meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society, at Chatham Street
Chapel, New York, held on the 4th of the seventh month, 1834.


O Thou, whose presence went before
Our fathers in their weary way,
As with Thy chosen moved of yore
The fire by night, the cloud by day!

When from each temple of the free,
A nation's song ascends to Heaven,
Most Holy Father! unto Thee
May not our humble prayer be given?

Thy children all, though hue and form
Are varied in Thine own good will,
With Thy own holy breathings warm,
And fashioned in Thine image still.

We thank Thee, Father! hill and plain
Around us wave their fruits once more,
And clustered vine, and blossomed grain,
Are bending round each cottage door.

And peace is here; and hope and love
Are round us as a mantle thrown,
And unto Thee, supreme above,
The knee of prayer is bowed alone.

But oh, for those this day can bring,
As unto us, no joyful thrill;
For those who, under Freedom's wing,
Are bound in Slavery's fetters still:

For those to whom Thy written word
Of light and love is never given;
For those whose ears have never heard
The promise and the hope of heaven!

For broken heart, and clouded mind,
Whereon no human mercies fall;
Oh, be Thy gracious love inclined,
Who, as a Father, pitiest all!

And grant, O Father! that the time
Of Earth's deliverance may be near,
When every land and tongue and clime
The message of Thy love shall hear;

When, smitten as with fire from heaven,
The captive's chain shall sink in dust,
And to his fettered soul be given
The glorious freedom of the just,
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