Come, all ye chosen saints of God
That long to feel the cleansing blood;
In pensive pleasure join with me
To sing of sad Gethsemane.
Gethsemane, the olive press!
And why so called, let Christians guess;
Fit name! Fit place! where vengeance strove
And gripped and grappled hard with love.
’Twas here the Lord of life appeared
And sighed and groaned and prayed and feared;
Bore all incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough and none to spare.
The powers of hell united pressed
And squeezed His heart and bruised His breast;
What dreadful conflicts raged within
When sweat and blood forced thro’ the skin!
Dispatched from heaven, an angel stood
Amazed to find Him bathed with blood;
Adored by angels, and obeyed,
But lower now than angels made.
He stood to strengthen, not to fight;
Justice exacts its utmost mite;
This Victim vengeance will pursue;
He undertook and must go through.
Three favored servants, left not far,
Were bid to wait and watch the war;
But Christ withdrawn, what watch we keep!
To shun the sight, they sank in sleep.
Backwards and forwards thrice He ran,
As if He sought some help from man,
Or wished, at least, they would console
(’Twas all they could) His tortured soul.
Whate’er He sought for, there was none;
Our Captain fought the field alone;
Soon as the Chief to battle led,
That moment every soldier fled.
Mysterious conflict! Dark disguise!
Hid from all creatures’ peering eyes;
Angels, astonished, viewed the scene
And wonder yet what all could mean.
O Mount of Olives, sacred grove!
O Garden, scene of tragic love!
What bitter herbs thy beds produce!
How rank their scent, how harsh their juice!
Rare virtues now these herbs contain—
The Savior sucked out all their bane;
My mouth with these if conscience cram,1
I’ll eat them with the Paschal Lamb.
O Kedron, gloomy brook, how foul
Thy black polluted waters roll!
No tongue can tell (but some can taste)
The filth that into thee was cast.
In Eden’s garden there was food
Of every kind for man while good;
But banished thence, we fly to thee,
O Garden of Gethsemane.
And why, dear Savior, tell me why
Thou thus wouldst suffer, bleed, and die.
What mighty motive could Thee move?
The motive’s plain—’twas all for love.
For love of whom? Of sinner base,
A hardened herd, a rebel race
That mocked and trampled on Thy blood
And wantoned with the wounds of God.
When rocks and mountains rent with dread,
And gaping graves gave up their dead,
When the fair sun withdrew his light
And hid his head to shun the sight,
Then stood the wretch of human race
And raised his head and showed his face,
Gazed unconcerned when nature failed,
And scoffed and sneered and cursed and railed.
Harder than rocks and mountains are,
More dull than dirt or earth by far,
Man viewed unmoved Thy blood’s rich stream,
Nor ever dreamed it flowed for him.
Such was the race of sinful men
That gained that great salvation then;
Such, and such only, still we see;
Such they were all, and such are we.
The Jews with thorns His temples crowned
And lashed Him when His hands were bound;
But thorns and knotted whips and bands
By us were furnished to their hands.
They nailed Him to the accursèd tree;
(They did, my brethren; so did we);
The soldier pierced His side, ’tis true,
But we have pierced Him through and through.
O love of unexampled kind
That leaves all thought so far behind,
Where length and breadth and depth and height
Are lost to my astonished sight!2
For love of me the Son of God
Drained every drop of vital blood.
Long time I after idols ran,
But now my God’s a martyred Man.
- An archaic definition of cram is to tell lies to. ↩
- This penultumate stanza is quoted by Jim Kerwin in That Treasure-Trove of Truth. ↩