Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

The Midnight Vigil

Mournful, sighing, sadly weeping,
Sleepless 'midst a household sleeping;
Midnight's lonely vigil keeping,
Darkling and alone;
From my sore each friend and lover
Stand aloof, I may not cover
The burning wound that all discover-
Comforters are none.
Rachel for her children wailing
With a woe how unavailing
Aught to soothe-and comfort failing
To assuage her moans.
The Jewish mother, Ramah's daughter,
When her babes were given to slaughter,
Saw their pure young blood like water
Pour'd upon the stones.
'Midst her martyred infants kneeling,
High the wail of anguished feeling,
Mother's love, and woe revealing,
Thrilled upon the air;
Then were seen bright angels bending
O'er the slain-white wings extending
To waft the spirits heavenward tending-
She has found them there.
But, ah! the children of my sorrow-
Night is theirs-no hopeful morrow:
Alas! worn heart, where wilt thou borrow
Words thy grief to show?
Oh, my sons, ere sin beguiling
Plunged you into depths defiling
Of intemperance, treacherous smiling-
Gulf of sin and woe!
Ye were innocent and loving,
Mother's deepest yearnings moving,
Her soft arms and bosom proving
Shelter still and rest.
Babes of Bethlehem, loved and cherished,
Would my babes like you had perished!
Reft while sinless, spotless, cherished,
From the mother's breast.
They were spared, were fostered, nourished,
Plants of hope, they bloomed and flourished,
Yet they withered, fell and perished,
In their summer prime.
Lost, oh lost! Say not for ever,
One there is who can deliver,
Seek and save the lost-dissever
Youth from guilt and crime.
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