Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century
Alfred H. Miles, ed.  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
IV. “Forward! be our watchword”
By Henry Alford (1810–1871)

FORWARD! be our watchword,
  Steps and voices join’d;
Seek the things before us,
  Not a look behind;
Burns the fiery pillar        5
  At our army’s head;
Who shall dream of shrinking,
  By Jehovah led?
Forward through the desert,
  Through the toil and fight;        10
Jordan flows before us,
  Zion beams with light!
Forward, when in childhood
  Buds the infant mind;
All through youth and manhood,        15
  Not a thought behind;
Speed through realms of nature,
  Climb the steps of grace;
Faint not, till around us
  Gleams the Father’s face.        20
Forward, all the life-time,
  Climb from height to height,
Till the head be hoary,
  Till the eve be light.
Forward, flock of Jesus,        25
  Salt of all the earth,
Till each yearning purpose
  Spring to glorious birth;
Sick, they ask for healing,
  Blind, they grope for day;        30
Pour upon the nations
  Wisdom’s loving ray,
Forward, out of error,
  Leave behind the night:
Forward through the darkness,        35
  Forward into light.
Glories upon glories
  Hath our God prepared,
By the souls that love Him
  One day to be shared;        40
Eye hath not beheld them,
  Ear hath never heard;
Nor of these hath utter’d
  Thought or speech a word.
Forward, marching eastward,        45
  Where the heaven is bright,
Till the veil be lifted,
  Till our faith be sight!
Far o’er yon horizon
  Rise the city towers,        50
Where our God abideth,
  That fair home is ours;
Flash the streets with jasper,
  Shine the gates with gold;
Flows the gladdening river,        55
  Shedding joys untold.
Thither, onward thither,
  In Jehovah’s might;
Pilgrims to your country,
  Forward into Light!        60
Into God’s high Temple
  Onward as we press,
Beauty spreads around us,
  Born of holiness
Arch, and vault, and carving,        65
  Lights of varied tone;
Soften’d words and holy,
  Prayer and praise alone:
Every thought upraising
  To our City bright,        70
Where the tribes assemble
  Round the throne of Light.
Nought that City needeth
  Of these aisles of stone:
Where the Godhead dwelleth,        75
  Temple there is none:
All the saints that ever
  In these courts have stood,
Are but babes, and feeding
  On the children’s food.        80
On through sign and token,
  Stars amidst the night;
Forward through the darkness,
  Forward into light!
To the Father’s glory        85
  Loudest anthems raise;
To the Son and Spirit
  Echo songs of praise:
To the Lord Jehovah,
  Blessèd Three in One,        90
Be by men and angels
  Endless honour done.
Weak are earthly praises,
  Dull the songs of night,
Forward into triumph,        95
  Forward into light!

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