The Great War

from A Treasury of War Poetry, an electronic edition

The Vigil

England! where the sacred flame

Burns before the inmost shrine,

Where the lips that love thy name

Consecrate their hopes and thine,

Where the banners of thy dead

Weave their shadows overhead,

Watch beside thine arms to-night,

Pray that God defend the Right.

Think that when to-morrow comes

War shall claim command of all,

Thou must hear the roll of drums,

Thou must hear the trumpet's call.

Now, before thy silence ruth,

Commune with the voice of truth;

England! on thy knees to-night

Pray that God defend the Right.

Single-hearted, unafraid,

Hither all thy heroes came,

On this altar's steps were laid

Gordon's life and Outram's fame.

England! if thy will be yet

By their great example set,

Here beside thine arms to-night

Pray that God defend the Right.

So shalt thou when morning comes

Rise to conquer or to fall,

Joyful hear the rolling drums,

Joyful hear the trumpets call,

Then let Memory tell thy heart:

"England! what thou wert, thou art!"

Gird thee with thine ancient might,

Forth! and God defend the Right!