When Persecution’s Torrent Blaze

  Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste,
and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men
bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the
king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose,
walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form
of the fourth is like the Son of God. Daniel iii. 24, 25.

~The Rev. John Keble


WHEN Persecution’s torrent blaze
Wraps the unshrinking Martyr’s head;
When fade all earthly flowers and bays,
When summer friends are gone and fled,
Is he alone in that dark hour
Who owns the Lord of love and power?

Or waves there not around his brow
A wand no human arm may wield,
Fraught with a spell no angels know,
His steps to guide, his soul to shield?
Thou, Saviour, art his Charmèd Bower,
His Magic Ring, his Rock, his Tower.

And when the wicked ones behold
Thy favourites walking in Thy light,
Just as, in fancy triumph bold,
They deemed them lost in deadly night,
Amazed they cry, “What spell is this,
Which turns their sufferings all to bliss?

“How are they free whom we had bound?
Upright, whom in the gulf we cast?
What wondrous helper have they found
To screen them from the scorching blast?
Three were they—who hath made them four?
And sure a form divine he wore,

“E’en like the Son of God.” So cried
The Tyrant, when in one fierce flame
The Martyrs lived, the murderers died:
Yet knew he not what angel came
To make the rushing fire-flood seem
Like summer breeze by woodland stream.

He knew not, but there are who know:
The Matron, who alone hath stood,
When not a prop seemed left below,
The first lorn hour of widowhood,
Yet cheered and cheering all, the while,
With sad but unaffected smile;—

The Father, who his vigil keeps
By the sad couch whence hope hath flown,
Watching the eye where reason sleeps,
Yet in his heart can mercy own,
Still sweetly yielding to the rod,
Still loving man, still thanking GOD;—

The Christian Pastor, bowed to earth
With thankless toil, and vile esteemed,
Still travailing in second birth
Of souls that will not be redeemed:
Yet stedfast set to do his part,
And fearing most his own vain heart;—

These know: on these look long and well,
Cleansing thy sight by prayer and faith,
And thou shalt know what secret spell
Preserves them in their living death:
Through sevenfold flames thine eye shall see
The Saviour walking with His faithful Three.