O long and darksome was the night

O long and darksome was the night

Author: Ray Palmer
Tune: [The works and ways of God on high]
Published in 2 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, Noteworthy Composer
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1 Oh! long and darksome was the night,
As slow, dull watches wore away,
With moon and stars alone to light
A world bewildered and astray;
While oft thick shade and murky cloud
Pale moon and stars did deep enshroud;
And nations looked, and hoped in vain
That over earth, of guilt and sorrow,
Of sin and hate, the sad domain,
Might dawn a bright and cheerful morrow.

2 ’Twas not, Eternal Love, that Thou
Hadst lost Thy care for mortal men;
No, Thou didst yearn of old, as now,
To fold them to Thy heart again;
Thou didst but wait till men might know
That sin’s ripe fruits were death and woe;
Till, worn and sick of fruitless grief,
Of lust’s foul cup to loathing taken,
With longing they might crave relief
Ere yet of God and hope forsaken.

3 The yearning heard with trusting heart,
E’en then, Thy words of hope and cheer;
They saw by faith the night depart,
And morning break serene and clear.
On holy prophets shone afar
The gleam of Jacob’s promised Star;
The rising of the Lord of day,
That, o’er the world His radiance throwing,
Should chase the spectral night away,
And mount to noon resplendent showing.

4 When Thou, O Christ! of flesh wast born,
To greet Thee in Thy humble bed,
Though earth Thy lowliness should scorn,
Celestial bands with rapture sped;
At midnight on the silent air
Thy birth their floating strains declare:
The shepherds caught the thrilling lay,
In harmonies their senses steeping;
They to Thy manger haste away,
And gaze on Thee, an infant sleeping!

5 While Thou didst dwell with men below,
’Twas morning twilight’s early blush;
Thy light yet veiled, ’twas Thine to know
Sweet childhood’s dream, youth’s joyous flush;
Then manhood’s burdens, care, and fears,
Its toils and weariness and tears;
Tears shed for human grief and woes
Mark Thee, of all, the Man of Sorrows:
And through Thy life the grandeur grows
That manhood from the Godhead borrows!

6 When, all forsaken of Thine own,
Robed in mock purple Thou didst stand;
Thou wast a king—without a throne,
A sovereign Lord—without command;
’Neath purple robe and thorns concealed,
Divinity its light revealed;
Upon the Roman’s heart it fell,
Its sharp keen flash, his conscience waking,
And wrought in him some mighty spell,
The pride of his strong spirit breaking.

7 When came at last Thy darkest hour,
On which the sun refused to look,
Though hell seemed armed with conqu’ring pow’r,
And earth, as seized with terror, shook;
Though from Thy lips the dying cry,
By anguish wrung, went up on high;
Still, ’mid the darkness and the fear,
O Son of God! Thy life resigning,
Thou didst to those that saw appear
The Light of men—eclipsed, yet shining!

8 The cold, dark tomb of chiseled rock
Thy glory could not all repress:
A moment hid, with earthquake shock
Abroad it streamed again to bless;
First angels caught the vision bright,
Then broke its beams on mortal sight;
The Conqueror of Death and Hell,
Thou stoodst, Thy friends each word attending,
Till on their wistful eyes there fell
Splendors divine from Thee ascending!

9 For ever on the unveiled throne,
O Lamb divine! enrobed in light;
Thou life and love, and joy unknown,
Dost shed while ages wing their flight;
The cherubim before Thee bow,
The fullness of the Godhead Thou!
Thy uncreated beauty greets
The longing eyes that, upward gazing,
Feast on Thy smile, which ever meets
Thy saints that wait before Thee praising.

10 Head over all! ’tis Thine to reign;
The groaning earth with joy shall see
What ages sought, but sought in vain,
The balm for all its woes in Thee;
Eyes fixed on Thee shall dry their tears,
Hearts stayed on Thee shall lose their fears;
Fair innocence and love shall breathe
Their fragrant breath o’er vale and mountain,
And faith pure altars shall enwreathe,
And nations bathe in Calvary’s fountain.

11 Crowned Lord of lords, Thy pow’r shall bring
Thy saints Thy glory to partake;
Thyself enthroned eternal King,
Of them Thy love shall princes make;
And priests, that in the Holy Place
Shall serve, adorned and full of grace;
The Church, Thy queenly bride, shall stand,
In vesture like Thy brightness shining,
Content to clasp Thy royal hand,
All other love for Thine resigning.

12 O Love beyond all mortal thought!
Unquenchable by flood or sea!
Love that, through death, to man hath brought
The life of immortality!
Thou dost enkindle Heav’n’s own fire
In hearts all dead to high desire.
Let love for love our souls inflame,
The perfect love that faileth never;
And sweet hosannas to Thy name
Through Heav’n’s vast dome go up for ever!

Source: The Cyber Hymnal #14888

Author: Ray Palmer

Ray Palmer (b. Little Compton, RI, 1808; d. Newark, NJ, 1887) is often considered to be one of America's best nineteenth-century hymn writers. After completing grammar school he worked in a Boston dry goods store, but a religious awakening prodded him to study for the ministry. He attended Yale College (supporting himself by teaching) and was ordained in 1835. A pastor in Congregational churches in Bath, Maine (1835-1850), and Albany, New York (1850-1865), he also served as secretary of the American Congregational Union (1865-1878). Palmer was a popular preacher and author, writing original poetry as well as translating hymns. He published several volumes of poetry and hymns, including Sabbath Hymn Book (1858), Hymns and Sacred Pieces (1865… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: O long and darksome was the night
Author: Ray Palmer
Copyright: Public Domain


The Cyber Hymnal #14888
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The Cyber Hymnal #14888

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