Lord! what a wretched land is this,
That yields us no supply!
No cheering fruits, no wholesome trees,
Nor streams of living joy!
But pricking thorns through all the ground,
And mortal poisons grow,
And all the rivers that are found
With dangerous waters flow.
Yet the dear path to thine abode
Lies through this horrid land;
Lord! we would keep the heav'nly road,
And run at thy command.
[Our souls shall tread the desert through
With undiverted feet,
And faith and flaming zeal subdue
The terrors that we meet.]
[A thousand savage beasts of prey
Around the forest roam;
But Judah's Lion guards the way,
And guides the strangers home.]
[Long nights and darkness dwell below,
With scarce a twinkling ray;
But the bright world to which we go
Is everlasting day.]
[By glimm'ring hopes and gloomy fears
We trace the sacred road;
Through dismal deeps and dangerous snares
We make our way to God.]
Our journey is a thorny maze,
But we march upward still;
Forget these troubles of the ways,
And reach at Zion's hill.
[See the kind angels at the gates,
Inviting us to come!
There Jesus the forerunner waits,
To welcome trav'llers home!]
There on a green and flowery mount
Our weary souls shall sit,
And with transporting joys recount
The labors of our feet.
[No vain discourse shall fill our tongue,
Nor trifles vex our ear;
Infinite grace shall be our song,
And God rejoice to hear.]
Eternal glories to the King
That brought us safely through;
Our tongues shall never cease to sing,
And endless praise renew.
Lord, what a wretched land is this. I. Watts. [Pilgrimage of the Saints.] Appeared in his Hymns & Sacred Songs, 1707. Book ii., No. 53, in 12 stanzas of 4 lines, and entitled "The Pilgrimage of the Saints; or, Earth and Heaven." In Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book, 1866, stanzas viii.-xii. were given as "Our journey is a thorny maze." This arrangement, together with abbreviations beginning with the first stanza, is in several collections.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)