Beneath the hot midsummer sun
The men had marched all day,
And now beside a rippling stream
Upon the grass they lay.
Tiring of games and idle jest
As swept the hours along,
They cried to one who mused apart,
“Come, friend, give us a song.”
“I fear I can not please,” he said;
“The only songs I know
Are those my mother used to sing
For me long years ago.”
“Sing one of those,” a rough voice cried.
“There’s none but true men here;
To every mother’s son of us
A mother’s songs are dear.”
Then sweetly rose the singer’s voice
Amid unwonted calm:
“Am I a soldier of the Cross,
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause?”
The very stream was stilled,
And hearts that never throbbed with fear,
With tender thoughts were filled.
Ended the song, the singer said,
As to his feet he rose,
“Thanks to you all, my friends; goodnight.
God grant us sweet repose.”
“Sing us one more,” the captain begged.
The soldier bent his head,
Then, glancing round, with smiling lips,
“You’ll join with me?” he said.
“We’ll sing that old familiar air
Sweet as the bugle call,
‘All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall.'”
Ah, wondrous was the old tune’s spell.
As on the soldiers sang;
Man after man fell into line,
And loud the voices rang.
The songs are done, the camp is still,
Naught but the stream is heard;
But, ah! the depths of every soul
By those old hymns are stirred,
And up from many a bearded lip,
In whispers soft and low,
Rises the prayer that mother taught
Her boy long years ago.