Born: July 15, 1820, Cuby with Tregony, Cornwall.
Died: March 21, 1887, Bath, England.
Buried: St. Mary’s churchyard, Bathwick, Somerset, England.
Archer was the son of Richard Gurney, vice-warden of the stannaries of Devon.
Educated for the legal profession, Gurney was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, but the Bishop of Exeter ordained him a deacon in 1849, and priest in 1850.
He was appointed one of the Bodleian Lecturers at Exeter, and in March 1852, became curate of St. Mary, Crown Street, Soho Square, London. He also served as curate of Buckingham (1854–58) and chaplain of the English congregation, Cour des Coches, Paris (1858–71).
’Tis the morn, and westward lowering
Move the doubtful shades of night,
While the cold north breeze seems cowering,
As it shuns the dawning bright—
In their gambols, fresh and gay,
Softer morning zephyrs play;
Spectral shades they chase away,
And hail the rising orb of day.
In the city, vast and deep,
Millions rouse them from their sleep,
Some from visionless repose,
Some from dreams of mystic woes.
Monarch, priest, and maiden fair,
For the festival prepare;
Some in tears, and some in glee;
For day hath dawned o’er Nineveh!
’Tis the sultry midday hour!
Sweetest flower and offerings bring,
For, in gorgeous pomp and power,
From his palace sweeps the king.
Wily priests, and courtiers vain,
Swell the pompous regal train:
Up the temple steps they go,
Where the powers of darkness reign:
Swarming myriads below
Gaze upon the lofty fane—
And, by pain of death deterred,
Not a sound escapes the crowd:
Even on high the distant bird
Stays its carol shrill and loud—
Nought but the choral chant is heard,
And all before their Bel are bowed.
Hark! Who speaks? It cannot be!
None could dare to break upon
Such a dark and awful mystery.
See the royal train moves on—
Yet! Again? ’Tis he! ’Tis he!
’Tis the prophet of the Lord,
The bearer of His fiery sword—
His crimson garment wide is spread,
He speaks in tones might wake the dead—
Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and earth,
Who gave you, atoms, life and birth,
Maker of all ye hear and see,
And Monarch of Eternity,
Thus to the proud Assyrian says,
Thy reign is o’er, and told thy days:
And yet, ere forty times the sun
His royal course hath o’er thee run,
The worm shall be thine only mate,
And all thy dwellings desolate!
He spoke, and coldly blew the blast;
A tempest cloud its shadow cast,
And o’er the sun a vapor passed.
And they believed that prophet’s word,
And sought the pardon of the Lord.
His red right arm already was unbared,
And yet, the God of Mercy heard, and spared.
Archer Thompson Gurney
Poems, Spring, 1853
If you know where to get a good photo of Gurney (head-and-shoulders, at least 200×300 pixels), would you send us an e-mail?