Helen Maria Williams

The Morning Before He Goes to the Gallows

My race of life is almost run,
Rings even now the last sad knell,
When I must from this whole world turn
And bid it ever more farewell.


Cut off from all my works and plans,
To leave my faithful loving ones,
No more to hold my good wife's hands,
Nor see my daughters and my sons.


This heart must moulder in the grave
And beat no more for fellow man,
Can no more move these hands to save
And purify a single land.


The day, oh! Lord, I long to see
Is ever hidden from my sight,
To see Thy children all set free
And breathe the air of human right.


But let me not my fate bemoan
Oh, Father dear and King above,
Thy will be done and not my own
With me, my work and all I love.


To know and do Thy will below
I lived and am prepared to die,
To serve thy creatures high or low
Where they dwell beneath the sky.


It was to wipe the crime away,
Forever more of man to man,
That I pursued, day after day,
The cause and charge for which I stand.


I go before Thy judgment seat
Where all my feelings, thoughts, are known,
With naught of fear or shame to meet
The sentence of Thy righteous throne


But send Thy holy spirit, Lord,
To comfort, strengthen those I leave,
Teach them to know that Thou art God
In Thee to trust and to believe.


Make plain Thy ways, make known Thy will,
That they may see, walk and obey.
Urge, quicken them 'gainst slavery still
To battle till the free-born day.



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Helen Maria Williams