Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
The Hebrew’s Friday Night
“COME, my beloved, to meet the Bride; the Face of the Sabbath let us welcome.”
Sweet Sabbath-Bride, the Hebrew’s theme of praise,
  Celestial maiden with the starry eyes,
Around thine head a sacred nimbus plays,
  Thy smile is soft as lucent summer skies,        5
  Before thy purity all evil dies,
In wedding-robe of stainless sunshine drest,
  Thou dawnest on Life’s darkness and it dies;
Thy bridal-wreath is lilies Heaven-blest,
Thy dowry Peace and Love and Holiness and Rest.        10
For in thy Presence he forgets a while
  The gloom and discord of man’s mortal years,
To seek the Light that streameth from thy Face,
  To list thy tender lullaby, which cheers
  His soul and lies like music on his ears.        15
His very sorrows with soft splendor shine,
  Transfigured by a mist of sacred tears;
He drinks thy gently offered Anodyne,
And feels himself absorbed into the Peace divine.
The Father from the Synagog returns        20
  (A singing-bird is nestling at his heart),
And from without the festive light discerns
  Which tells his faithful wife has done her part
  To welcome Sabbath with domestic art.
He enters and perceives the picture true,        25
  And tears unbidden from his eyelids start,
As Paradise thus opens on his view,
And then he smiles and thanks his God he is a Jew.
For “Friday-night” is written on his home
  In fair, white characters; his wife has spread        30
The snowy Sabbath-cloth; the Hebrew tome,
  The flask and cup are at the table’s head,
  There’s Sabbath magic in the very bread,
And royal fare the humble dishes seem;
  A holy light the Sabbath candles shed,        35
Around his children’s shining faces beam,
He feels the strife of every day a far-off dream.
His buxom wife he kisses, then he lays
  Upon each child’s young head two loving hands
Of benediction, so in after-days,        40
  When they shall be afar in other lands,
  They shall be knit to God and home by bands
Of sacred memory. And then he makes
  The blessing o’er the wine, and while each stands,
The quaintly convoluted bread he breaks,        45
Which tastes to all to-night more sweet than honeyed cakes.
And now they eat the Sabbath meal with laugh
  And jest and gossip till all fun must cease,
While Father chants the Grace, all singing half,
  And then the Sabbath hymns of Love and Peace        50
  And Hope from alien lands to find release.
No evil can this night its head uprear,
  Earth’s joys loom larger and its ills decrease;
To-night of ghosts the youngest has no fear—
Does not his guardian Sabbath-Angel hover near?        55
So in a thousand squalid Ghettoes penned,
  Engirt yet undismayed by perils vast,
The Jew in hymns that marked his faith would spend
  This night and dream of all his glorious Past
  And wait the splendors by his seers forecast.        60
And so while medieval creeds at strife
  With nature die, the Jew’s ideals last,
The simple love of home and child and wife,
The sweet humanities which make our higher life.

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