Night was resting on the people,
Sin was out upon the world,
Darkness, ere the prince of darkness,
From his citadel was hurled,
Ere the Prince of Peace, His standard
O’er the realms of strife unfurled.
Heathen madly raged with heathen,
Each with vain imagining;
Brother hated, slew his brother,
King went out to war with king,
Till at length all ill abounded,
And the dove of peace took wing.
All the nations sat in darkness,
Loving best the veil of night;
God they would not own as ruler,
So they put Him out of sight;
Then the flames of Hell they quickened,
Trampled on the true and right.
Thus the vineyard God had planted
Very good from east to west,
Wicked husbandmen had ruined,
Eating, drinking, taking rest,
Cursing with their lusts and passions
What the Householder had blest.
He had hedged about the vineyard,
Dug the wine press, built the tower,
Let it out and given orders,
Thou must serve and Thou have power,
So that He of fruit might gather
Treasure in the vintage hour.
One by one He sent His servants
Till that hour should fully come;
Some they beat, and some they stonèd,
Shamefully entreated some,
They whose hearts were set on idols,
Gods they fashioned, senseless, dumb.
Last of all, the vineyard’s Ruler,
When the numbered days were run,
Thought upon His loving-kindness,
Sent the Sole-Begotten One,
Sent His best Belovèd, saying,
They will reverence My Son.
Thus the Father in His pity,
Healed the world by guilt oppressed,
Gave commandment to the Lowly,
Bade her tabernacle rest,
He Who made her, Israel’s Lily,
Slumbered on her spotless breast.
O, the mystery of mercy !
To the vineyard comes the Heir,
Leaves the Father’s many mansions,
Faithless husbandmen to spare,
Clothes Himself with human nature,
Deigns our very flesh to wear.
Heir of all things, we adore Him,
Whom the wicked madly slew;
This the heir, come let us kill him.
Thus of old that godless crew
Cast Him out the Father sent them,
Thus they paid their Lord His due.
Fair the vineyard which the Ageless
Purchased with His own Right Hand.
Where the husbandmen of Jesus
In the place appointed stand,
Some to sow, and some to gather,
Some to break the fallow land.
Hedged about by Law and Prophets,
This Inheritance Divine;
Deep therein is dug the wine press,
Whence flows Precious Blood for wine;
There the Tower of Ivory glitters,
Of Incarnate Grace the shrine.
There the four-fold river waters
With its crystal stream the ground;
Purest gold and precious onyx
In its hidden depths abound;
There, or good for food or pleasant,
Every herb and tree are found.
Thus the Lord our God hath planted
Eastward in the realm He made
Garden, unto which He sendeth,
Born today of spotless Maid,
Him whose light the ancients longed for,
Him for whom the prophets prayed.
Where are springing thorns and briers,
He will make the curse to cease;
Are there captives fast in fetters?
He will give the bound release,
Unto men of good-will, saying,
On the earth be good-will, peace!
Surely now the world will greet Him,
Heir of all the worlds sublime;
Times, they say, are bad, disjointed;
He is come, the Lord of Time;
Men, they say, have grown more evil;
He can stay the march of crime.
Do the hours of toil wax longer?
He will share our weariness;
Are there hands uplift to curse us?
His are lifted up to bless;
Are there words of hate about us?
His are words of peacefulness.
O how happy the hereafter,
When the better Eden gained,
We look back upon the vineyard
Where the labor was sustained,
One hand working, one hand grasping
Weapon while a foe remained!
Peace! the will of God the Father,
As in Heav’n, in earth is done;
Peace! the dreary years are ended;
Peace! the days of strife are run;
One the song of men and angels,
We will reverence the Son.
Hid beneath His fleshly garment,
Many a crown and diadem
Brings the Heir this blessèd morning,
Journeying from Bethlehem;
If He own us, if He bless us,
Who is he that dares condemn?