Born: December 16, 1798, Holborn, London, England.
Died: September 24, 1860, Saint Pancras, London, England.
Thomas was the son of Charles Murray and Elizabeth Knight, and husband of Helen Douglas.
He was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and Pembroke College, Cambridge (MA).
He served as curate of Starcross, Devon, and St. Olave’s, Hart Street, London. In 1838, he became incumbent of the parish of St. Dunstan in-the-East, and later Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
He was a fellow of the Antiquarian Society, and secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
Augustus ruled imperial Rome,
When wars began to cease,
And all the nations of the world
Enjoy’d the sweets of peace.
The fir and myrtle took the place
Of briar and of thorn,
And swords were turned to pruning-hooks,
When Jesus Christ was born.
The rust had gather’d round the hinge
Of Janus’ open fane;
And fiery war had foul’d the walls
With many a purple stain;
But when the light of lovely Peace
Above the storm arose,
The wondering City saw her chief
The massive portal close.
To Israel’s sons their God had giv’n
His own revealèd Word;
And some at the appointed time
Were waiting for the Lord.
A faithful few in Salem’s courts
Watch’d anxiously to hear
The joyful accents that proclaim’d
Messiah’s advent near.
How favoured then were Judah’s sons,
That first of all to them
The Saviour came: His word was preach’d,
First at Jerusalem:
But they had ears that would not hear,
And eyes that would not see;
So other branches must be graff’d
On Judah’s olive-tree.
Inquiring eyes in heathen lands
Had seen a wondrous sign;
The heav’ns declared God’s glory, and
The sky His work divine:
A new and shining light was shed
O’er Gentile Galilee,
And lighted up with golden rays
The islands of the sea.
There was an island of the sea,
An island far away,
Upon whose shores there had not beam’d
The dawn of perfect day:
Dark altars rear’d to gloomy gods
With human blood were dyed;
And there they stand, those giant blocks,
To humble Britain’s pride.
Within thy circles rude, Stonehenge,
The white robed Druids stood;
Their eyes were raised to heaven, and
Their hands were bathed in blood:
They knew not of the Son of God,
Who bought us with a price;
And gave Himself upon the cross,
A perfect Sacrifice.
But now the Lord of light and truth
Hath bless’d our plains; for there
The taper spires that point to heav’n
The Saviour’s name declare.
May He vouchsafe increasing light
To this our English home,
And pour His grace upon our Church,
Till all its fulness come!
Thomas Boyles Murray
Christmas Lays, 1847
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