‘The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor,’ By Hezekiah Butterworth

“PRAISE ye the Lord!” The psalm to-day

Still rises on our ears,

Borne from the hills of Boston Bay

Through five times fifty years,

When Winthrop’s fleet from Yarmouth crept

Out to the open main,

And through the widening waters swept,

In April sun and rain.

“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”

The leader shouted, “pray;”

And prayer arose from all the ships

As faded Yarmouth Bay.

They passed the Scilly Isles that day,

And May-days came, and June,

And thrice upon the ocean lay

The full orb of the moon.

And as that day, on Yarmouth Bay,

Ere England sunk from view,

While yet the rippling Solent lay

In April skies of blue,

“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”

Each morn was shouted, “pray;”

And prayer arose from all the ships,

As first in Yarmouth Bay;

Blew warm the breeze o’er Western seas,

Through Maytime morns, and June,

Till hailed these souls the Isles of Shoals,

Low ’neath the summer moon;

And as Cape Ann arose to view,

And Norman’s Woe they passed,

The wood-doves came the white mists through,

And circled round each mast.

“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”

Then called the leader, “pray;”

And prayer arose from all the ships,

As first in Yarmouth Bay.

Above the sea the hill-tops fair—

God’s towers—began to rise,

And odors rare breathe through the air,

Like balms of Paradise.

Through burning skies the ospreys flew,

And near the pine-cooled shores

Danced airy boat and thin canoe,

To flash of sunlit oars.

“Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,”

The leader shouted, “pray!”

Then prayer arose, and all the ships

Sailed into Boston Bay.

The white wings folded, anchors down,

The sea-worn fleet in line,

Fair rose the hills where Boston town

Should rise from clouds of pine;

Fair was the harbor, summit-walled,

And placid lay the sea.

“Praise ye the Lord,” the leader called;

“Praise ye the Lord,” spake he.

“Give thanks to God with fervent lips,

Give thanks to God to-day,”

The anthem rose from all the ships,

Safe moored in Boston Bay.

“Praise ye the Lord!” Primeval woods

First heard the ancient song,

And summer hills and solitudes

The echoes rolled along.

The Red Cross flag of England blew

Above the fleet that day,

While Shawmut’s triple peaks in view

In amber hazes lay.

“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,

Praise ye the Lord to-day,”

The anthem rose from all the ships

Safe moored in Boston Bay.

The Arabella leads the song—

The Mayflower sings below,

That erst the Pilgrims bore along

The Plymouth reefs of snow.

Oh! never be that psalm forgot

That rose o’er Boston Bay,

When Winthrop sang, and Endicott,

And Saltonstall, that day:

“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,

Praise ye the Lord to-day;”

And praise arose from all the ships,

Like prayers in Yarmouth Bay.

That psalm our fathers sang we sing,

That psalm of peace and wars,

While o’er our heads unfolds its wing

The flag of forty stars.

And while the nation finds a tongue

For nobler gifts to pray,

’T will ever sing the song they sung

That first Thanksgiving Day:

“Praise ye the Lord with fervent lips,

Praise ye the Lord to-day;”

So rose the song from all the ships,

Safe moored in Boston Bay.

Our fathers’ prayers have changed to psalms,

As David’s treasures old

Turned, on the Temple’s giant arms,

To lily-work of gold.

Ho! vanished ships from Yarmouth’s tide,

Ho! ships of Boston Bay,

Your prayers have crossed the centuries wide

To this Thanksgiving Day!

We pray to God with fervent lips,

We praise the Lord to-day,

As prayers arose from Yarmouth ships,

But psalms from Boston Bay.

Copyright © 2021 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.

Source: ‘The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor,’ By Hezekiah Butterworth

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