Desertion by Joseph Hart

Deep in a cold, a joyless cell,
A doleful gulph of gloomy care!
Where dismal doubts and darkness dwell,
The dang’rous brink of black despair
Chill’d by the icy damps of death,
I feel no firm support of faith.

How can a burden’d cripple rise?
How can a fetter’d captive flee?
Ah! Lord, direct my wishful eyes;
And let me look, at least, to thee.
Alas! my sinking spirits droop;
I scarce perceive a glimpse of hope.

Extend thy mercy, gracious God;
Thy quick’ning Spirit vouchsafe to send;
Apply thy reconciling blood,
And kindly call thy foe thy friend:
Or, if rich cordials thou deny,
Let Patience Comfort’s place supply.

Let Hope survive, though dampt by doubt;
Do thou defend my shatter’d shield;
Oh! let me never quite give out;
Help me to keep the bloody field.
Lord, look upon th’unequal strife;
Delay not, lest I lose my life.

The first verse of Desertion appears in the recently published Shenandoah Harmony shape-note hymnal set to the tune of Braintree. It also appeared in Hymns on Various Subjects with the Author’s Experience, the Supplement and Appendix by Rev. Joseph Hart.

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