The Covenanter Communion

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Covenanters, Though historically they were predominately lowlanders there were many highlander’s among them including two of the largest Highlander clans and like all true Scotsmen, “They fought like warrior poets.” and were poetic to the core. And may we imitate them and their faith & actions for the glory of Christ.

The Covenanter Communion by David Vedder Dedicated to Doctor Reverand Thomas M’crie, 1828

I. Dark is the page that chronicles the time When James the latest tyrant of his race Reigned o’er his bleeding country Not sublime With golden sceptre but an iron mace With which he crushed his subjects power and place Were given to base familiars who to fill The measure of their crimes in briefest space Did deeds of woe at which the blood runs chill And owned no law except a gloomy bigot’s will

II. Land of my sires beloved of bounteous heaven On wbose blest soil nor slave nor tyrant treads Then then by bigotry thy sons were driven From hearth and home from flocks and flowery Thy winter winds howled o’er their houseless heads Responsive to their wailings and their cries There’s not a grove whose bloom the autumn sheds There’s not a cavern neath thy inclement skies But echoed to their groans responded to their sighs

III. Thy beauteous fields thy straths and meadows grew Loved country like an howling wilderness And commerce on her golden pinions flew To lands illumed by liberty Distress Arrayed in tattered robes usurped her place Thy cities teemed with a detested swarm Of perjured priests and prelates void of grace Rapacious nobles venal judges warm With an unhallowed zeal to crush fair freedom’s form

IV. Thy soil was tainted too with armed hordes Prowling like cannibals in search of blood 2 Assassins bravoes ruthless as their swords Abhorred alike by mankind and by God Who spared nor sex nor age but strewed their road With patriot corses thick as autumn’s leaves But patriot tears shall aye bedew the sod Which blooms above these martyrs hallowed graves Whilst many a balmy sigh from beauty’s bosom heaves

V. Years rolled away and melted in the past As wane the hues of evening into night Fierce as a demon on the midnight blast Rode Persecution in infernal might Showering his deadly influence to blight The fairest flowers in Zion’s garden found Even Desperation quailed beneath his sight And hied him to his fastness where around Reigned pristine Solitude in majesty profound

VI. Then Torture in habiliments of blood Convolved her screws and heaved her hammers high And Murder with her poignard stalked abroad Surcharged with gore at noon day openly Rearing her crimson banners to the sky Like poisonous exhalations Long and loud Was heard the exulting shout and battle cry Of Devastation and her monster brood Whilst Pestilence and Woe tracked the infernal crowd

VII. Fain would I sing the memory of those Uncompromising spirits stern and brave Who like the pristine martyrs nobly chose To stand or fall for Christ’s prerogative As king and head of Zion And to give Their houses to the spoiler to the flames Their bodies to the torture death than live With an accusing conscience and their names Enrolled in characters which dark oblivion claims

VIII. And I would sing their solemn Eucharist Their day of jubilee and joy on earth Held at life’s hazard midst the lonely waste Where nought of life save ptarmigans had birth The doctrines which Heaven’s messengers held forth The sacred Songs of Zion which arose Up to the throne with consecrated mirth Their prayers and aspirations till the close Of that eventful day if Heaven its aid bestows

IX. Adored Intelligence who erst inspired Our martyred sires with fortitude divine Who with a coal from thine own altar fired Their independent spirits to resign Their dear domestic comforts nor repine Against thy providence for conscience sake Assist my strains with influence benign Strains which I to their memories awake Whose hallowed bones are strewed o’er muirland moss and brake

X. Oh bright anticipation glorious truth These precious fragments yet shall re unite Shall ever flourish in immortal youth Bask in the beams of uncreated light A countless multitude of saints in white Their elder brother’s robes with harp and lyre Attuned to rapturous anthems Seraphs bright In concert On the sea of glass and fire Shall welcome them on high to their whole souls desire

XI. Friends of a buried covenant arise And o’er its mouldering relics drop a tear Join in your poet’s fervent sympathies Tho boasted Liberality may sneer That cause as their immortal souls was dear To your heroic fathers Ardently They fought they bled they fell but knew not fear What time a tyrant’s myrmidons drew nigh Hence Freedom’s sacred tree spreads its green branches high

XII. Yet base ingrates with venom’d tongues have jeer’d The memory of this heroic band Unblushing Infidelity hath sneer’d And Defamation rear’d her ebon wand; — Effeminacy push’d her pointless brand Against Truth’s buckler which they nobly raised But shrunk from the attempt in accents bland Hypocrisy with borrowed language praised And Ignorance with mouth extended stood and gazed

XIII. Land of the brave that nursed heroic Bruce And gave the patriotic Wallace birth Thou rt covered with a thousand glorious hues And mightiest of the mighty here on earth May pure religion dwell by every hearth Within thy borders May the patriot’s flame Mix with thy legislation and thy worth Still keep thee on the pinnacle of fame For ever and for aye proceed we to our theme

XIV. The orient skies are tinged with purple hue The summer moon is sinking in the west The opening flowerets bathed in morning dew Seem with ten thousand thousand diamonds drest And yonder lofty mountain’s hoary crest Is radiant with the glories of the morn The fleecy clouds on Heaven’s cerulean breast And misty exhalations upward borne All seem instinct with life the pageant to adorn

XV. The lark is caroling his matin hymn The heath flowers are exhaling heavenly balm Those bleatings from the upland mountains dim Seem like the music of a cottage psalm These ancient elms are verdant as the palm With which the hallowed soil of Judah’s stored The aspin stirs not tis an holy calm A sacred day the Sabbath of the Lord Come heralds of the Cross girt with the spirit’s sword

XVI. Come with the message of salvation fraught Come in the plenitude of heavenly grace Tell of the mighty acts your Master wrought T’achieve redemption for the human race Tell how the Lord of Life the Prince of Peace Upon the accursed tree his life resigned Th Omniscient who pervades all time and space Against even him the hellish hosts combined And Man the base ingrate the black alliance joined

XVII. With energy expatiate on the path The thorny path the man of sorrows trod Tell how he poured out his soul to death To cleanse even foes by his most precious blood And make them reign as Kings and Priests with God Arrayed in everlasting robes of light Beauty for ashes in that blest abode Crowned with unfading diadems more bright Than all the glowing gems that stud the dome of night

XVIII. But now the sun with influence benign His brilliancy above the horizon flings See multitudes impelled by grace divine Like many waters from their mountain springs Come rushing down to witness heavenly things A table in the wilderness is spread Stored with the symbol of the King of Kings The bread of life with which the saints are fed Until they sit on thrones with Christ their living head

XIX. These are the precious of the earth the gems Of God’s creation brightened by his ray When suns and systems shall be wrap’d in flames And like a scroll of parchment pass away This faithful flock shall never know decay But from corruption’s bondage having flown Shall bathe in floods of everlasting day Where Christ their brother is already gone And drink the living stream which issues from his throne

XX. These are the faithful followers of the Lord Who witness for his glorious truths and cause These bare their bosoms to the oppressor’s sword Rather than break their dear Redeemer’s laws Midst persecution’s fires they did not pause Nor compromise the hallowed truths of heaven Tho gaunt with famine fed on roots and haws Like partridges upon the mountains driven Or hid in caverns damp by winter torrents riven

XXI. Fast by the source of Nith’s romantic stream Far upland lies a sweet secluded strath All green and purple bright as poets dream Far from the persecutor’s wonted path There they commemorate their Saviour’s death Beneath the azure canopy of heaven For they by crowned and mitred tyrants wrath From Home and all its sympathies were riven From temples made with hands the scattered flock was driven

XXII. But they remembered Bethel’s hallowed towers And Peniel where the patient Patriarch toiled On Him amidst the desert when hell’s powers And principalities were worsted foiled They knew amidst the solitary wild Where scarcely human being ever trod The mighty master of assemblies smiled On his true worshippers This is the road Up to the highest heavens this is the house of God

XXIII. Now the last straggler from his noisome cave Has joined the motley congregated throng The hoary Pastor mild sedate and grave Comes midst a band of mounted yeomen Strong And watchful piquets the ravines among And sentinels are posted pass words spoke And nimble scouts are sent the plains along Then from the summit of a jutting rock Twas thus the man of God addressed Ids listening flock

XXIV. The desert and the solitary place The arid waste with burning sands o’erspread The howling wilderness shall yet rejoice And in the rose bud’s beauty shall be clad Yes they shall bloom profusely and be glad Libanus glory to them shall be given Their savage dens and parched mountains red With desolation and by thunder riven Shall see the glory of the God of earth and heaven

XXV. Then let the pliant hands be strengthened And let the feeble knees be well confirmed And let the fearful heart no longer dread For the Eternal comes with vengeance armed And all his enemies shall shrink alarmed Blackness shall seize the death devoted crew But with pure rapture let your souls be wanned He brings a glorious recompence to you You re graven on his hands ye God adoring few

XXVI. No more shall films of darkness shvoud the eye Nor shut out visions of creation bright For all the lambent glories of the sky Shall burst at once on man’s astonished sight The palsied and the lame shall bound as light As fawns on Jordan’s flower enamelled plain Iniquity’s effects shall cease to blight The human ear with dulness and with pain The dumb shall utter praise felicity shall reign

XXVII. The scorched wilderness with water stored Men shall astonished and delighted see And fertile as the garden of the Lord The weary and the thirsty soil shall be Dells where ferocious beasts roared furiously And winged serpents hissed shall ever ring Responsive to serial minstrelsy Harmonious as the music of the spring In Sharon’s flowery vale with dew drops glistening

XXVIII. For those whom the Eternal doth redeem And sanctify by his peculiar grace Shall be a glorious highway and its name Writ with a sunbeam shall be Holiness Th unhallowed feet of an abandoned race Shall ne’er pollute the consecrated ground But Zion’s crystal domes with rapturous praise From ransomed millions ever shall resound And with unfading wreaths their temples shall be hound

XXIX. These truths are like the precious evening dews Which imperceptibly fall from on high Upon the tender herb or like the hues Of God’s own bow amidst a murky sky When first it gleamed upon the Patriarch’s eye In pristine glory glowing like a ray Of mercy from a gracious deity On his afflicted people when dismay Wrapped in a sable stole had made their souls a prey

XXX. Then did the congregation of the Lord Unite their hearts and raise their voices high The song of Judah’s captive Poet soared Above their lofty cloud wove canopy Up to the heavens in solemn harmony Blending with seraph harp and angel lyre The plaintive strain drew tears from every eye They thought upon their persecutors dire And on the Church of God midst persecution’s fire

1. Tho the heathen have entered thine heritage Lord Tho thy saints have fallen by the tyrant’s sword Though weltering in their gore they lay To ravenous birds and beasts a prey Yet we will be glad and rejoice in thee Great Source of immortality

2. Tho their blood in torrents has been shed And none to bury the martyred dead Tho our names have become a reproach and scorn For the faithful witness we have borne Yet we will rejoice and be glad in thee Great Source of immortality

3. Tho thy glorious Name they have reviled Tho thy Holy places they have defiled Tho thy Sanctuary they have laid waste And all its carved work defaced Yet we will rejoice and be glad in thee Great Source of immortality

4. Tho we stand upon destruction’s brink Tho our bread is sorrow and tears our drink Tho we re scattered before the wind like chaff And the heathen flout and the foemen laugh Yet we will rejoice and be glad in thee Great Source of immortality

5. Oh let the prisoners groans and sighs Before thy glorious face arise Oh save the captives doomed to die By the ruthless arm of tyranny So shall we give our praise to thee Great Source of immortality

XXXI. And now the Pastor’s orisons aspire With holy fervor to the throne of grace His lips seemed touched as with the living fire From off the altar of the Prince of Peace That God would shew the brightness of his face Would dissipate his suffering people’s night Would make this broken persecuted race With their adored Redeemer walk in white And in his book of life their names and numbers write

XXXII. The Spirit’s influence that day was felt With irresistibly constraining power And adamantine hearts that day did melt Like Alpine snows beneath the Summer shower And multitudes confessed it as the hour Of their emancipation from the thrall Of sin And threatened wrath no more did lower Above them like a black funereal pall But Liberty and Light encircled one and all

XXXIII. Oh thou whom patriots sages martyrs name An emanation from the Deity To me thou art dearer than life’s vital stream Star of surpassing radiance Liberty If there is human bliss beneath the sky Tis Thou must gild it with celestial ray The lowest in thy scale Humanity Recoils with horror from a tyrant’s sway And breaks his galling chains and casts his cords away

XXXIV. But Liberty from Sin and Satan’s sway Is more delightful to the Child of God For Earth and Hell can never take away The glorious gift bought by the Saviour’s blood He bears his cross exulting and the rod He kisses with humility and love Glories in tribulation his abode He knows already is prepared above His robe of righteousness is by the Saviour wove

XXXV. Again the multitude their voices raise To Israel’s God for wonders he had done The pealing notes of gratitude and praise Ascend above th empyrean to the throne Not all the joys their former years had known Had equalled joy like this the sacred strain Symphonious echoed from the mountains lone For Nature seemed to join th adoring train And Heaven and earth seemed linked as with a golden chain

1 Let us lift up our voices aloud to Him Who dwelleth between the cherubim In the star paved mansion above yon sky The Centre of immensity Shepherd of Israel shed one ray On us thy suffering flock to day

2. In Ephraim’s and Manassah’s sight Stir thine all powerful strength and might Break the oppressor’s bow and sword And save thine helpless heritage Lord Shepherd of Israel shed one ray On us thy suffering flock to day

3. Let thy mighty arm be round us still And mould our souls to thy holy will And bring us at last to the wealthy place Illum’d with the light of thy glorious face Th imputed robe the wreath the palm The song of Moses and the Lamb

XXXVI. The just shall live by faith and not by sight Shall bear the Cross if they would win the prize Strong in the strength and mighty in the might Of him whose finger framed the starry skies Their aspirations he will not despise Their humble supplications will not spurn His gracious ear is open to their cries His spirit comforts those who truly mourn And in then sickness sore he all their beds will turn

XXXVII. Eternal pleasures wait for those who win A conquest o er the world by Faith divine When outward circumstances inward sin And Satan’s soul destroying schemes combine When sensual pleasure meteor like doth shine With dazzling influence and delusive glare With holy fortitude in duty’s line To persevere is bliss beyond compare Tis treading that blest path the Saviour trode while here

XXXVIII. Exterminating cruelty hath raged Implacable in Satan since the hour That he and his infernal cohorts waged A bootless war against Jehovah’s power His malice urged him to that happy bower By an indulgent God to mankind given His malice cropp’d of innocence the flower And strewed its blossoms to the winds of Heaven By whose tornado blasts they from the earth were driven

XXXIX. On exultation’s pinions next he flew And formed a sad alliance with the world Anon Rebellion’s horrid trumpet blew Her spears were brandish d and her shafts were hurled Her gory standard also was unfurled Jehovah’s name and statutes were defied Till o’er the mountain tops the waters curled And yawning Ruin’s overwhelming tide Swept from the groaning earth Impiety and Pride

XL Amidst the roar of this appalling scene Where fell Destruction reigned without controul The venerable Patriarch smiled serene And fearless saw the liquid mountains roll Jehovah’s gracious promise cheered his soul His Faith saw future happiness in store Tho Ruin from the centre to the pole Had bathed her chariot’s wheels in human gore And Desolation grim his deadliest aspect bore

XLI. See Abraham at his Maker’s high command Amidst the mountain wild an altar rear And all obedient with unshrinking hand To sacrifice his only child prepare The child of promise and of many a prayer At God’s command he cheerfully resigned His Faith did triumph o er paternal fear Nerved his weak arm and fortified his mind To execute with joy whate’er his God designed

XLII. Hail genuine faith gift of our gracious Lord An unexhausted gift from age to age Enriched by thee the Martyrs on record With cheerfulness trod Persecution’s stage Defied the dungeon’s gloom the bigot’s rage The excruciating torture and the fire The rack the gibbet and the sabre’s edge And praying for their enemies did expire Thus were they chased to Heaven to join the ransomed choir

XLIII. Christians doth Sin impede your heavenward race Do Hell’s suggestions urge you to despair Jehovah sits upon a throne of grace And Jesus Christ reigns Mediator there Approach his table lift your souls in prayer A promised welcome from a faithful God In inspiration’s pages doth appear Procured by Jesus meritorious blood Who of his father’s wrath the bitter wine press trod

XLIV. By faith in Him your sins shall be forgiven Mark the amazing mercy God displays Your spirits sanctified and sent to Heaven Where Saints and Angels bask in glory’s rays And triumph’s song to the Redeemer’s praise Thro the celestial city shall resound Jehovah’s light with undiminished blaze Thro all eternity shall shine around And everlasting bliss unmeasured shall abound

XLV. Now bread the symbol of incarnate God Is broken blest distributed and wine Apt emblem of the Saviour’s cleansing blood Diffuses heavenly rapture thro the line Of reverential worshippers Divine The element in which their souls did move Like the beloved disciple they recline Each on Emanuel’s bosom with what love These aspirations rise up to the throne above

XLVI. Dweller on high ray Saviour and my God Shall I prefer a favourite lust to thee Whose fearful agony and sacred blood From everlasting ruin ransomed me For thou didst suffer in Gethsemane Unheard of tortures in thy sinless soul And on the accursed Mount of Calvary Jehovah’s billows over thee didst roll Whilst all the expanse of Heaven grew black from pole to pole

XLVII. Shall fleeting pleasure falsely called so Seduce me from the joys thou hast in store Shall I eternal happiness forego That Hell may triumph o er one victim more When Thou adored wert wounded to the core By those ingrates thou earnest to redeem Suspended on the cross distained with gore Yet Oh forgive them father was thy theme They know not what they do they know not they blaspheme

XLVIII. Shall I obedient tread the narrow path Or with thine enemies my God be joined Shall endless glory and eternal wrath Hang doubtful in the balance of my mind Oh shall thy invitations be declined So fraught with mercy and replete with grace E’en Heaven and all its glories are assigned Unto the humblest of the human race Who by a living faith thine offers Lord embrace

XLIX. Though Jesus to display his sovereign power And the exceeding riches of his grace Hath at the ninth nay the eleventh hour Reclaimed the vilest of the human race Such monuments of mercy can give peace To none who fondly hell ward persevere No he records it a peculiar case To save convinced sinners from despair And teach them to employ their latest hours in prayer

L. Then henceforth till my heart shall cease to throb God’s grace assisting Sin I will detest And grasp by Faith that grand imperial robe The spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ Dear Saviour may this solemn Eucharist Refresh our spirits in this vale of tears Make us obedient to thy high behest Return a gracious answer to our prayers And in the fiery fight dispel our rising fears

LI. Thus whilst intense Devotion upward soared To Heaven from midst the solitary dell Full suddenly appeared a murderous horde Led to the onset by accursed Dalzell Pealing like fiends the banner cry of Hell Rushing like famished wolves upon their prey Showering their bullets thick as drops that fell Upon the summits of the Cheviots grey What time drear winter reigned with ruthless tyrant sway

LII. One twinkling and the Covenanters formed Their sabres gleamed their spears were levelled low Their broad swords flashed their files with carbines armed Poured in destruction on the astonished foe Thy mountain streamlet Nith began to glow A crimson current Whilst the dying groan The shout of triumph and the shriek of woe Mingled with echoes from the mountains lone And all the gory field was thick with corses strewn.

LIII. The heroes of the Covenant advanced With all the energy of men inspired Dalzell’s ferocious spearmen wildly glanced And inch by inch and foot by foot retired Destructive vollies on his flank were fired Sweeping whole ranks But hark the bugles swell Proclaims a troop of horse who scarce respired With foaming fury incontrollable Then plunged into the fight with savage shout and yell

LIV. Chafed to the verge of madness fierce Dalzell Darted like flickering flattie from van to rear Blaspheming like a very fiend of hell While dropt his myrmidons like leaves when sere Beneath the trusty brand and deadly spear Of patriot strength Yet ere the ruddy sky Of evening disappeared Van centre rear Were broken by th infuriate Cavalry See from th ensanguined field for life for life they fly

LV. Carnage hath done her work And all is hushed All save the lamentation of despair The stiffled sob the dying groan which rushed Incessant on the horror striken ear Shriek execration blasphemy and prayer And praise were blent For on the blood stained sod Oppressors and oppressed commingled were The despot’s tool the patriot saint who trod The thorny path which leads to glory and to God

LVI. To clefts and tarns and precipices steep Crags inaccessible to cavalry To quivering marshes and morasses deep The fugitives forlorn for shelter fly Leaving their fathers brothers sons to die A lingering death upon the bloody field No friendly hand to shut the death set eye Nor comfort to the parting spirit yield Painting the joys of Heaven about to be revealed

LVII. Cease melancholy harp I may not sing Th indignities the hapless sufferers bore In prison and in banishment nor ring The changes on a subject I deplore The brandings mutilations scourgings nor The blood which flowed on scaffolds and on plains My fainting soul is sick of scenes of gore Shrinks from the headsman’s axe the gaoler’s chains The period accursed which Scottish annals stains

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