EIN FESTE BURG IST UNSER GOTT (Luther's Hymn) By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)We wait beneath the furnace-blast The pangs of transformation; Not painlessly doth God recast And mould anew the nation. Hot burns the fire Where wrongs expire; Nor spares the hand That from the land Uproots the ancient evil. The hand-breadth cloud the sages feared Its bloody rain is dropping; The poison plant the fathers spared All else is overtopping. East, West, South, North, It curses the earth; All justice dies, And fraud and lies Live only in its shadow. What gives the wheat-field blades of steel? What points the rebel cannon? What sets the soaring rabble's heel On the old star-spangled pennon? What breaks the oath Of the men o' the South? What whets the knife For the Union's life?-- Hark to the answer: Slavery! Then waste no blows on lesser foes On strife unworthy freemen. God lifts today the vail, and shows The features of the demon! O North and South Its victims both, Can ye not cry "Let slavery die!" And union find in freedom? What though the cast-out spirit tear The nation in his going? We who have shared guilt must share The pang of his o'erthrowing! Whate'er the loss, Whate'er the cross, Shall they complain Of present pain Who trust in God's hereafter? For who that leans on His right arm Was ever yet forsaken? What righteous cause can suffer harm If he its part has taken? Though wild and loud And dark the cloud Behind its folds His hand upholds The calm sky of to-morrow. Above the maddening cry for blood, Above the wild war-drumming, Let Freedom's voice be heard, with good The evil overcoming. Give prayer and purse To stay the Curse Whose wrong we share, Whose shame we bear, Whose end shall gladden Heaven! In vain the bells of war shall ring Of triumphs and revenges, While still is spared the evil thing That severs and estranges. But blest the ear That yet shall hear The jubilant bell That rings the knell Of Slavery forever! Then let the selfish lip be dumb, And hushed the breath of sighing; Before the joy of peace must come The pains of purifying. God give us grace Each in his place To bear his lot, And, murmuring not, Endure and wait and labor!
The Home Front