When darkness over Egypt reigned,
A darkness to be felt,
Light sweetly shone round Goshen still,
The tents where Israel dwelt.
Awestruck, the Egyptians silent lay,
They rose not from their place;
God's finger had been o'er their land,
And left a fearful trace.
The very idols which they served
A gloom around them threw,
The stream they worshipped turned to blood,
The sun his light withdrew.
But Pharaoh's heart was hardened still,
He let not Israel go
Until Jehovah, King of kings,
Struck the last fearful blow.
The first-born on the kingly throne,
The first-born in the hall,
God sent his awful mandate forth,
And death passed over all.
No house remained in this proud land
Which mourned not for its dead,
And every street was filled with gloom,
And every heart with dread.
At midnight was the message sent
It was an awful hour,
Proclaiming man's impotency
And God's eternal power.
The mighty monarch, struck with awe,
Dismissed the people then;
Contending with Omnipotence
He felt indeed was vain.
And how were Israel employed
When light around them shone?
They then prepared the paschal lamb,
And stood with sandals on;
Staves in their hands, loins girded too,
They waited the command
To throw their loosened shackles off,
And seek the promised land.
But first they ate the passover,
And freely sprinkled round
The blood of an unblemished lamb,
In whom no spot was found.
And the destroying angel passed
Harmless o'er every door
Whose side-posts and whose lintels, too,
Faith's striking symbol bore.
Now let us pause and ask our hearts
If we have aught to learn,
If very many teaching things
We cannot here discern?
Is there not "darkness to be felt"
In Egypt at this hour?
And does she not refuse to bow
Before Jehovah's power?
And oh! when God's own Israel
Would break the oppressor's chain,
Does she approach His sacred throne
And supplicate in vain?
Ah, no! upon the captive still
Is poured a flood of light,
While he prepares for better worlds
To take his joyous flight.
His bonds are burst, he only waits
The omnipotent command
To journey forth, his armor's on,
His staff within his hand.
Not settled down in carnal ease,
This world is not his home,
A pilgrim and a stranger here,
He seeks for one to come.
Christ is his holy passover,
He has a part in Him;
For he applies his blood, in faith,
To purify from sin.
But oh! with very bitter herbs
It must be eaten still;
Suffering is yet the lot of those
Who do their Master's will.
And let the Christian not forget,
Israel was bid to stay
Within the shelter of the tent
Until the opening day.
And God is now his people's tent,
In Him may we abide;
Then though the faith will oft be proved,
The patience oft be tried,
An hour of sweet release will come,
And all the pilgrim band,
By flame and cloud alternate led,
Attain the promised land;
And wearing there the crown of joy,
And carrying, too, the palm,
Eternally ascribe the praise
To God and to the Lamb.