Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DIVINE MISSION, by ALFRED GIBBS CAMPBELL

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THE DIVINE MISSION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When on the earth had settled moral night
Last Line: Thy majesty and power vindicate!
Subject(s): Christianity

When on the earth had settled moral night,
And darkness reigned where once shone Sinai's light;
When superstitious rites usurped the place
Where beamed Religion once with holy grace;
When Justice, Truth and Mercy far had fled
From Church and State, and hollow forms instead --
Tithings of "anise, mint and cummin," made
For sanctimonious priests a thriving trade,
Who, like our modern priests, gain-seeking men,
God's holy temple made a robbers' den; --
At such a time, long centuries ago,
From Heaven's high mansions to the earth below
An angel band, on gladsome errand bound,
Sped to the plains where, seated on the ground,
The humble shepherds through the solemn night
Watched their loved flocks, and gathered pure delight
And holy wisdom, which each glowing star
Rained on them with its radiance from afar.
Around the shepherds shone celestial light,
(Each gem eclipsing in the crown of night,)
Making them quake with apprehensive dread,
But momentary, for God's angel said,
"Fear not, I bring glad tidings unto all
People who dwell on this terrestrial ball."
Then Heaven's high dome with sounds harmonic rang
As the angelic host in concert sang
"Glory to God! Good-will and peace on earth!"
Most fitting song to usher in the birth
Of Heaven's divinest Son, whose mission grand
Eternal Love had from eternal planned!

Lo! in a manger where the oxen fed,
The Son of God made His first lowly bed;
He who, on high, with glory erst was crowned,
No prouder birth-place than a stable found.
As in our time the North-star's steady ray
Guides weary pilgrims on their toilsome way
From bondage worse than that of Pharaoh's reign,
So there appeared, among the shining train,
One flaming star which like a beacon shone,
And from the East-land led the sages on,
Who, finding Jesus, worshiped him, and rolled
Full at His feet their gifts of precious gold,
And incense-breathing gums, whose odors rare
Symboled the fragrance of their praise and prayer.

When unto manhood had the Christ-child grown,
Sunlike, but spotless, His example shone,
Teaching the world great truths which long had been
Hid by traditions false and priestly din.
He trampled on the vain and hollow rites
Practiced by vainer, hollower hypocrites,
Who hoped by them to bring the heavens in debt,
Or blind the omniscient eye of God, while yet
They daily added to their ill-got store
By stealing bread from God's afflicted poor,
And still contrived how they might still steal more!
The poor, the blind, the outcast and the slave,
The victims of the rich, proud Pharisee,
These were the sharers of His sympathy,
These were the ones He loved to bless and save.

Oh! Holy Christ, Thy mission is not done;
Still on oppression shines the noon-day sun;
Thy children still are trampled in the dust,
'Neath the remorseless hell of power crushed.
Dost Thou not hear their grief-extorted cry?
Look'st Thou not on them still with pitying eye?
Behold, the Oppressor waxes yet more bold,
And grasps them with a tighter, sterner hold,
While, as of old, the Church and priesthood stand
Leagued with Thy foes, and claiming Heaven's command
For all their deeds of villainy and crime
Which stain with human blood the page of time.

But as unto the least of Thine 'tis done,
'Neath night's dark cover, or the blazing sun,
So is it done to Thee, and Thou wilt yet
Thy majesty and power vindicate!

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