Project Canterbury

Songs and Ballads for the People

By the Rev. John Mason Neale

London: James Burns, 1843.

XIV. The Martyrdom of Archbishop Laud.

The season is past of his sufferings at last,
And his end is drawing nigh;
And now the good Archbishop stood
By the place where he must die.

He had guarded the Church from wicked men
In troublesome times of strife:
All they could take he had lost for Her sake,
And now he must lose his life.

But as he pass'd up Tower Hill,
'Twas a marvellous sight to see,
How door, and roof, and window-sill,
Were as throng'd as throng'd could be;

How down to the Thames from the Tower wall
A troop of horsemen ran;
And soldiers were drawn in array, and all
To guard one weak old man!

But as he went there were hands stretch'd out,
If they might but touch his side;
And strong men turn'd their heads about,
And like little children cried.

So steadfastly the scaffold-steps
That good Archbishop trod,
As one that journey'd to his Home,
And hasten'd to his God.

And there the great axe, in the winter-sun,
Was glittering like to gold;
And the block was there, and the men in masks,
Right fearful to behold.

The Archbishop knew why each was there,
Yet manfully all he eyed;
For he that feareth Almighty God
Hath nothing to fear beside.

"I have been long," he said, "in my race,
And suffer'd much pain and loss;
Now to its end I am coming apace,
And here I find the cross;

"And in sight of men, and of Angels too,
In sorrow and shame I stand;
But the shame must be despis'd, or else
No coming to God's Right Hand.

"I have the weakness of nature still,
And have pray'd both night and day,
If it stood with my Heavenly Father's will,
That the cup might pass away.

"He is as able to rescue me
Now from ungodly men,
As He was to deliver the Children Three
From the fiery furnace then;

"His hand was with them to bring them through,
And a glorious victory won;
So He can do once more; if not,
His will, not mine, be done.

"And if He bids me to cross the sea
That I have full in view,
I shall enter its waves right willingly;--
Yea, and pass through them too!

"I would not leave my fathers' Church,
And before Dissenters bow;
For that I have borne both shame and scorn,
And for that I must suffer now."

Then he pray'd in silence a little space,
For the King, and himself, and his fold;
And when he arose again, his face
Was glorious to behold.

And they who stood round him began to inquire
If his strength to his need suffic'd?
And answer he quietly made, "I desire
To depart, and to be with Christ."

Then he knelt by the block, and he gave the sign
That should carry him home to his rest;
And that same moment the great axe fell,
And his spirit was with the blest.

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