|Orson F. Whitney|
Thursday, August 15, 2019
The Voice Like Music Fell
In solemn council sat the Gods;
From Kolob's height supreme,
Celestial light blazed forth afar
O'er countless kokaubeam;
And faintest tinge, the fiery fringe
Of that resplendent day,
'Lumined the dark abysmal realm
Where earth in chaos lay.
Silence self-spelled; the hour was one
When thought doth most avail;
Of worlds unborn the destiny
Hung trembling in the scale.
Silence o'er all, and there arose,
Those kings and priests among,
A Power sublime, than whom appeared
None nobler 'mid the throng.
A stature mingling strength with grace,
Of meek though Godlike mien,
The love-revealing countenance
Lustrous as lightning sheen;
Whiter his hair than ocean spray,
Or frost of alpine hill.
He spake;--attention grew more grave,
The stillness e'en more still.
"Father!"--the voice like music fell,
Clear as the murmuring flow
Of mountain streamlet trickling down
From heights of virgin snow.
"Father," it said, "since one must die,"
Thy children to redeem,
Whilst earth, as yet unformed and void,
With pulsing life shall teem;
"And thou, great Michael, foremost fall,
That mortal man may be,
And chosen Saviour yet must send,
Lo, here am I--send me!
I ask, I seek no recompense,
Save that which then were mine;
Mine be the willing sacrifice,
The endless glory, Thine!
"Give me to lead to this lorn world,
When wandered from the fold,
Twelve legions of the noble ones
That now thy face behold;
Tried souls, 'mid untried spirits found;
That captained these may be,
And crowned the dispensations all
With powers of Deity.
"A love that hath redeemed all worlds,
All worlds must still redeem;
But mercy cannot justice rob--
Or where were Elohim?
Freedom--man's faith, man's work, God's grace--
Must span the great gulf o'er;
Life, death, the guerdon or the doom,
Rejoice we or deplore."
Silence once more. Then sudden rose
Aloft a towering form,
Proudly erect as lowering peak
'Lumed by the gathering storm!
A presence bright and beautiful,
With eye of flashing fire,
A lip whose haughty curl bespoke
A sense of inward ire.
"Give me to go!" thus boldly cried,
With scarce concealed disdain;
"And hence shall none, from heaven to earth,
That shall not rise again.
My saving plan exception scorns;
Man's agency unknown;
As recompense, I claim the right
To sit on yonder throne!"
Ceased Lucifer. The breathless hush
Resumed and denser grew.
All eyes were turned; the general gaze
On one common magnet drew.
A moment there was solemn pause;
Then, like the thunder-burst,
Rolled forth from lips omnipotent--
From Him both last and first:
"Immanuel! thou my Messenger,
Till time's probation end.
And one shall go thy face before,
While twelve thy steps attend.
And many more, on that far shore,
The pathway shall prepare,
That I, the First, the last may come,
And earth my glory share.
"Go forth, thou chosen of the Gods,
Whose strength shall in thee dwell!
Go down betime and rescue earth,
Dethroning death and hell
On thee alone man's fate depends,
The fate of beings all.
Thou shalt not fail, though thou art free--
Free, but too great, to fall.
"By three in heaven, by three on earth,--
By blood that sanctifies,
By water of obedience,
Spirit that justifies;
By every word of mine and thine,
Through toil and travail sore,
Man, God-redeemed, with God shall be,
As God forevermore."
'T was done. From congregation vast
Tumultuous murmurs rose;
Waves of conflicting sound, as when
Two meeting seas oppose.
'T was finished. But the heavens wept;
And still their annals tell
How one was choice of Elohim,
O'er one who fighting fell.
A stranger star that came from far,
To fling its silver ray,
Where, cradled in a lowly cave,
A lowlier infant lay;
And led by soft sidereal light,
The Orient sages bring
Rare gifts of gold and frankincense,
To greet the homeless King.
Oh wondrous grace! Will Gods go down
Thus low that men may rise?
Imprisoned here the mighty one
Who reigned in yonder skies?
Hark to that chime!--a tongue sublime,
That tells the hour of noon.
A dying world is welcoming
Life--light of sun and moon.
"Peace! peace!"--thy voice, eternity!
"Peace!" echoes time's false tone.
"Peace! peace!" Is discord then no more?
Are earth and heaven as one?
Peace, peace, where sparkling hosts proclaim
A monarch manger-born;
There ruler of unnumbered realms,
Here throneless and forlorn.
He wandered through the faithless world,
A prince in shepherd guise;
He called his scattered flock, but few
The voice did recognize;
For minds upborne by hollow pride,
Or dimmed by sordid lust,
Ne'er look for kings in begger's garb,
For diamonds in the dust.
Wept He above a city doomed,
Her temple, walls, and towers,
O'er palaces where recreant priests
Usurped unhallowed powers.
"I am the way, the life, the light!"
Alas! 't was heeded not;
Ignored--nay, mocked God's messenger,
And spurned the truth He taught.
O bane of damning unbelief!
Till now when e'er so rife?
Thou stumbling stone, thou barrier 'thwart
The gates of endless life!
O love of self, and Mammon's lust!
Twin portals to despair,
Where bigotry, the blinded bat,
Flaps through the midnight air.
Through these, gloom-wrapt Gethsemane!
Thy glens of guilty shade
Grieved o'er the sinless Son of God,
By gold-bought kiss betrayed;
Beheld Him unresisting dragged,
Forsaken, friendless, lone,
To halls where dark-browed hatred sat
On judgment's lofty throne.
As sheep before His shearers, dumb,
Those patient lips were mute;
The clamorous charge of taunting tongues
He deigned not to dispute.
They smote with cruel palm a face
Which felt yet bore the sting;
Then crowned with thorns His quivering brow,
And mocking, hailed him "King!"
Transfixt He hung,--O crime of crimes!--
The God whom worlds adore.
"Father, forgive them!" Drained the dregs;
Immanuel was no more!
No more where thunders shook the earth,
Where lightnings, 'thwart the gloom,
Saw that unconquered spirit spurn
The shackles of the tomb.
Far-flashing on its wings of light,
A falchion from its sheath,
It cleft the realms of darkness and
Dissolved the bands of death;
Hell's dungeons burst, wide open swung
The everlasting bars,
Whereby the ransomed soul shall win
Those heights beyond the stars.
- Orson F. Whitney, from "Elect of Elohim" in Elias, an Epic of the Ages
(see here for a reading of the poem set to music)