1] This hymn follows and complements the first of many sermons in the book, preached on "The Cloud of Witnesses" All-Saints day, by making "the heart lyrical with the truth it [the sermon] sets forth" (v). The Biblical text on which the sermon is based, from Hebrews 12:1, concerns the doctrine of angels: "Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Sears explains this doctrine as follows:
... the spirit-world and this are continuous and interblending and from that run down into this the influence and energy on which we draw mightily in our struggles and conquests; ... no man is alone or isolated; ... there are chords of sympathy that run from us along the higher ranks of being; ... the repentance of a single sinner is an event that sends a wavelet of joy into the breasts of those who have been an invisible guard around his virtue and helped determine his decision for the right. (4)
Your home may be humble, apart, alone; but if a good life is lived there, it stands in the centre of an amphitheatre thronged with heavenly multitudes, all bending towards you and breathing their spirit into yours. (14-15)
15] Babel-sounds: Sears compares the sounds of the world to the confused languages given to the builders of the Tower of Babel by God in Genesis as a punishment for their pride in trying to reach heaven.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Edmund H. Sears, Sermons and Songs of the Christian Life (Boston: Noyes, Holmes, 1875): 17-18. Yale Divinity Library. Cf. American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, selected and annotated by John Hollander (New York: Library of America, 1993): I, 588-89. PS 607 A56 1993 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1852
Publication date note: Five Christmas Hymns (1852)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/21
Other poems by Edmund Hamilton Sears