He…showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven…it shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel. Revelation 21:10–11
First published in the Pilgrim Hymnal, 1904. The lyrics have special significance, coming from a Jewish professor of Social Ethics, son of a rabbi.
The words parallel the vision of the New Jerusalem that John received on the island of Patmos, recorded in the Book of Revelation.
Hail the glorious golden city,
Pictured by the seers of old!
Everlasting light shines o’er it,
Wondrous tales of it are told:
Only righteous men and women
Dwell within its gleaming wall;
Wrong is banished from its borders,
Justice reigns supreme o’er all.
We are builders of that city,
All our joys and all our groans
Help to rear its shining ramparts;
All our lives are building stones:
Whether humble or exalted,
All are called to task divine;
All must aid alike to carry
Forward one sublime design.
And the work that we have builded,
Oft with bleeding hands and tears,
Oft in error, oft in anguish,
Will not perish with our years:
It will live and shine transfigured,
In the final reign of right;
It will pass into the splendors
Of the city of the light.