I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. Isaiah 1:25
To this town of hallowed memories [Concord, Massachusetts], just two years before his death, the Quaker poet, John G. Whittier, was invited by Daniel Lothrop, the publisher, and his wife. The occasion was a reception to be given in honor of the wife of General John A. Logan, who had distinguished himself in the Civil War and later in civic life.
At that time, however, Whittier, who was eighty-three years old and suffering from the infirmities of advanced age, could only send this note of regret:
I cannot be with you on the 14th, owing to the state of my health; but I send you some lines [this hymn] which I hope may not seem inappropriate. I am very truly thy friend, John G. Whittier.
Price, p. 32
Our thought of thee is glad with hope,
Dear country of our love and prayer;
Thy way is down no fatal slope,
But up to freer sun and air.
Tried as by furnace fires, and yet
By God’s grace only stronger made;
In future tasks before thee set
Thou shalt not lack the old-time aid.
Great, without seeking to be great
By fraud or conquest; rich in gold
But richer in the large estate
Of virtue which thy children hold.
With peace that comes of purity,
And strength to simple justice due,
So runs our loyal dream of thee.
God of our fathers! make it true.
O land of lands! to thee we give
Our love, our trust, our service free;
For thee thy sons shall nobly live,
And at thy need shall die for thee.