Once to Every Man and Nation

Full Text

1 Once to ev'ry man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
'Twixt that darkness and that light.

2 Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
While the coward stands aside.
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied.

3 By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv'ries ever
With the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties,
Ancient values test our youth;
They must upward still and onward,
Who would keep abreast of truth.

4 Tho' the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Tho' her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.

Source: Baptist Hymnal 2008 #538

Author: James Russell Lowell

Lowell, James Russell, LL.D., was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, February 22, 1819; graduated at Harvard College, 1838, and was called to the Bar in 1840. Professor of Modern Languages and Literature (succeeding the Poet Longfellow) in Harvard, 1855; American Minister to Spain, also to England in 1881. He was editor of the Atlantic Monthly, from 1857 to 1862; and of the North American Review from 1863 to 1872. Professor Lowell is the most intellectual of American poets, and first of her art critics and humorists. He has written much admirable moral and sacred poetry, but no hymns. One piece, “Men, whose boast it is that ye" (Against Slavery), is part of an Anti-Slavery poem, and in its present form is found in Hymns of the Spirit, 18… Go to person page >



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