Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
January 31
Laus Deo!
By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
          The resolution on the Amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery was adopted on Jan. 31, 1865. These lines were composed by Whittier on hearing the bells ring on that occasion and as he said himself, “it wrote itself, or rather sang itself, while the bells rang.”

    IT is done!
  Clang of bell and roar of gun
Send the tidings up and down.
  How the belfries rock and reel!
  How the great guns, peal on peal,        5
Fling the joy from town to town!
    Ring, O bells!
  Every stroke exulting tells
Of the burial hour of crime.
  Loud and long, that all may hear,        10
  Ring for every listening ear
Of Eternity and Time!
    Let us kneel:
  God’s own voice is in that peal,
And this spot is holy ground.        15
  Lord, forgive us! What are we,
  That our eyes this glory see,
That our ears have heard the sound!
    For the Lord
  On the whirlwind is abroad;        20
In the earthquake he has spoken;
  He has smitten with his thunder
  The iron walls asunder,
And the gates of brass are broken!
    Loud and long        25
  Lift the old exulting song;
Sing with Miriam by the sea
  He has cast the mighty down;
  Horse and rider sink and drown;
“He hath triumphed gloriously!”        30
    Did we dare,
  In our agony of prayer,
Ask for more than He has done?
  When was ever his right hand
  Over any time or land        35
Stretched as now beneath the sun?
    How they pale,
  Ancient myth and song and tale,
In this wonder of our days,
  When the cruel rod of war        40
  Blossoms white with righteous law,
And the wrath of man is praise!
    Blotted out!
  All within and all about
Shall a fresher life begin;        45
  Freer breathe the universe
  As it rolls its heavy curse
On the dead and buried sin!
    It is done!
  In the circuit of the sun        50
Shall the sound thereof go forth.
  It shall bid the sad rejoice,
  It shall give the dumb a voice,
It shall belt with joy the earth!
    Ring and swing,        55
  Bells of joy! On morning’s wing
Send the song of praise abroad!
  With a sound of broken chains
  Tell the nations that He reigns,
Who alone is Lord and God!        60

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