“Show Thy pity upon all prisoners and captives.” – Litany.

The sweet May days are bright and long,
And Nature’s face is fair,
And [far] aloft the lark’s glad song
Makes musical the air.
To every sense some fresh delight
Earth’s budding beauty brings,
And as I greet her smile aright,
My very heart finds wings.
I kneel within the house of prayer,
Feeling my soul set free
From dreary doubt and carking care,
To rise, my God, to Thee.
Yet, in my heart, the mournful prayer
Wakes still a throb of pain,
“Show pity, Lord, on all who bear
This day, the prisoner’s chain!”
O bend on those Thy pitying eye
Whom dungeon walls restrain
From sight of earth, or sea, or sky ---
Lord, loose the captive’s chain!
And some there are whom men call free,
Unfettered who remain;
They walk in fancied liberty,
Thou knowst they wear a chain.
A chain which oft in secret galls,
Though pleasure’s cup they drain,
Lord, look on those whom sin enthralls,
And loose them from its chain!
For some have boasted freedom found,
They know not heart and brain
In Satan’s coils are wrapped around ---
Lord, loose from Error’s chain!
And some do gilded bands enfold,
Bound in their greed of gain,
They walk the earth, the slaves of gold ---
Lord, loose from Mammon’s chain!
Some, too, there are with willing feet
Who swell the captive train,
Whom sense enslaves and trifles cheat,
Lord, loose from Folly’s chain!
And some to-day must, burdened, groan,
Bowed down by want and pain;
O hear the grief-bound spirit’s moan ---
Lord, loose from Sorrow’s chain!
Some cannot force their eager heart
From idols to refrain;
They own their bondage, feel its smart ---
Lord, loose the earth-bound chain!
Thou know’st all secrets – Thou can’st see
This trembling heart and vain,
O break its bonus, whate’er they be ---
Lord, loose me from my chain!
And hasten, Lord, that blessed hour
When Thou wilt come again,
In kingly majesty and power
To loose from every chain!
The Churchman’s Family Magazine.

Title:The Captives


Publication:Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter

Published in:Ashton-under-Lyne

Date:May 2nd 1863

Keywords:freedom, morality, poverty, religion, rich


This poem is subtly abolitionist in its message without referring directly to the politics of slavery or even mentioning America. It frames its message in religious ideas of forgiveness and understanding for ‘prisoners’, but interestingly brings in discussion of financial greed through its use of the New Testament personification of wealth, ‘Mammon’. – SR