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Poem by Margaret Chalmers

A Summer Sabbath Morn

THE hallowed morn faint glimmering in the East,
Dawns on a slumb'ring and a ransom'd world;
How dearly ransom'd! wonderful the price
By which the great Redemption was obtain'd.
Sleep on, and take your rest ye rescued tribes,
For your Redeemer slumbers not, nor sleeps.
Yet, let not the enlighten'd Christian world
This morn too long indulge oblivious sleep,
And rob themselves of "sacred, sure delights,"
With which these precious, fleeting moments teem.
The Sabbath morn, still with salvation fraught,
Returns; and, with persuasive force, recals
The mind to thoughts which to its peace belong.
'Twas early in the morn, as dawning light
On the first Christian Sabbath shed its ray,
That they, whose steps impell'd by sacred love,
Sought the Lord's tomb, met heavenly messengers;
Deem these not absent, though invisible;
Round the awakening Christian's couch they wait,
To prompt and lead the first returning thoughts.
Come with the eye of Faith--Behold, the place
Where the Lord lay, the stone is roll'd away.
Yet, should the sons of care and labour steal
An hour of slumb'rous respite from this day,
Forgiveness will the needful fraud obtain
From him who knows the feelings of the weary.
But let not those, whom more indulgent fate
Entrusts with the disposal of their hours,
Ah! let not those rob heaven and themselves
Of serious intercourse on Sabbath morn;
When the Redeemer triumph'd o'er the grave,
Hallow'd by him--He burst the bands of death!
He burst the sepulchre of massy rock!
O break the soft, the downy bands of sleep
To think of him who gave his life for you.
Let not the conscious sense of guilt deter;
The blood that flow'd on Calvary, hath power
To wash the deepest stain. When on the morn
Of Resurrection, led by pious zeal,
The friends of Jesus hasten'd to the tomb,
Did Mary Magdalen less welcome meet
Or from the heavenly messengers, or from HIM
Whom all the glorious hosts of heaven adore,
Than did the partners of her way, whose lives
Apparently less guiltless had been spent?
Such welcome still returning sinners find,
If, with their sins, her penitence they bring.
What solemn, sacred sound floats thro' the air,
And gently dissipating slumber, calls
To recollection all the dormant powers?
The earliest summons to the sacred courts
The way towards the gate of mercy points,
Open on earth and heaven, inviting all.
Complex emotions in the mind arise,
Rousing, accusing, comforting at once.
O let us hear it as the call of heaven,
And seize the precious opportunity
Offer'd to day, while it is call'd to day!
The night approaches fast when none can work;
The living only hear the Gospel Call,
It reacheth not the mansions of the tomb.
The morning sun, bright gilding every hill,
Beams gladness into the beholder's heart.
Each various object which salutes the eye,
Seems stamp'd with the impression of the Sabbath.
Shall we impute the livelier melody
This day observ'd amongst the feather'd choirs,
Or to the favouring stillness which prevails;
Or grant the notion entertain'd by some,
That taught by instinct, they can safely trust,
And nearer wing into the haunts of man,
In serenade uniting? If we this
Call vulgar , term it also pious error.
Where'er we turn, each view presents a fane,
Inspiring homage to the Deity,
Smiling around in all his glorious works
Complete. On this blest day of general rest,
Which respite brings to those by toil hard prest,
The great Creator all his works survey'd,
And with approving voice pronounc'd them good.
What God calls good , let favour'd man enjoy,
For whom these beauteous scenes from nothing sprung.
Man does enjoy, as tells that humble voice
Solemnly issuing from yon hillock's side,
Where seated on the grass, a rural swain
Surrounded by his family, enjoys
Repose, peculiarly welcome now;
For thro' the summer weeks he ardent ploughs
Th' inconstant seas, luring the finny tribes.
This day from contrast heighten'd comfort gains,
And to domestic peace and piety
Devoted, gives a taste of heavenly joys.
Now in a double volume doth he trace
The Almighty, in his work and in his word,
Each powerful commentary on the other.
The infant auditors, whose ductile minds
To each impression, as it passes, yield,
Catch in this scene the early rudiments
Of pleasure, drawn from pure religion's source.
The sweetness of the scene thro' which I stray
Arrests my wand'ring steps, whose course have led
Towards a spot with fragrant verdure crown'd,
Whose site commands a heart-delighting view
Of the surrounding objects. All combine
To pour serenity into the mind.
Behind (inspiring thankfulness and hope,)
All teeming stand the loaded fields of corn,
Smiling around in robe of brightest green.
O, may the joyful whisper they convey
Into the heart of the hard labour'd swain,
Anticipating plenty to his babes
Amid the wintry rigours, be fulfill'd!
And may the power, who bids the vallies sing
Under their precious burthen, kindly stay
The direful force of shaking Equinox,
Oft fatal to the husbandman's fond hope.
How apt the emblem of a tranquil mind,
Which Bressa Bay's unruffled surface yields!
Tho' far more calm than even most virtuous mind,
Or happiest state of human life admits.
Reflected by the liquid mirror, see
The scenery of the adjacent Isle,
Whose black'ning hills, and scatter'd hamlets green,
Form gay diversity. Across the sea
The rural groups in various tracts appear,
But bending all towards one general goal,
The house of God; O, may they also find
Admission to his heavenly temple, where
Perpetual Sabbath holds a blissful reign.
Silence her empire gradually resigns,
"Pleas'd to be so displac'd," to solemn sounds,
In unison ascending thro' the air,
Symphonious issuing from the assembled throng;
Whose voices, tun'd by pure devotion's force,
Unite in chaunting forth a sacred strain,
Which borne, and soften'd by "the vocal air,"
Reaches the spot where I delighted sit,
In hearing losing every other sense,
Sweetly absorbt. My passive mind is borne
Upon th' exalting wing of sound sublime
Towards that Heaven, where Hallelujahs sound
The praise of the Almighty. O may he
A favouring ear lend to his worshippers,
And that acceptance grant, promis'd to those
Who worship him in Spirit and in Truth.

Margaret Chalmers

Margaret Chalmers's other poems:
  1. The Author's Address to the Critics
  2. Address to the Evening Star
  3. On the Banks of the Esk
  4. Verses on the Jubilee Night at Lerwick
  5. Lines, on the Drawing Room of an Intimate Friend of the AuthorТs

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