Heard (Henderson), Josephine D.
Read at the 25th Anniversary of Wilberforce, Ohio, June, 1887.
A quarter century ago,
A March morning, bleak and wild,
The joyful news spread to and fro:
To Afro Methodist is born a child;
Begotten in the time of strife,
And born in adverse circumstances,
All trembled for the young child's life,
It seemed to have so poor a chance.
But, nursed by every care,
It stronger grew, until at last
Our hearts no longer feel a fear,
The danger is forever past.
The feeble childhood's days are flown,
How swiftly speed the years away;
We hail thee now a woman grown
In regal robes and Queen's array.
Thou dark-browed beauty of the west,
Thy matchless grace is widely known;
Rich jewels sparkle on thy breast,
Thy head supports a royal crown.
And through thy veins pure Africa's blood
Flows fearlessly along its course;
Thy cheeks are mantled by the flood;
We hail thee, lovely
Thy palace gates are open wide--
All are invited to the feast;
From frigid North or Southern side,
From every point, from West to East.
Thou holdest in thine outstretched hand
The richest, rarest gifts to youth;
From snow-capped peak to ocean strand,
Thou offerest all the words of truth.
They come! their burning thirst, quench,
For wisdom, honor, knowledge, power;
From hidden depths rich jewels wrench--
Successful effort crowns each hour.
But foul incendiary's cruel hand,
Thy Territory did invade;
By ruthless and destructive brand,
Thy lonely walls were lowly laid.
When night had hushed the birds to sleep,
Out of his covert see him creep;
The crackling flame and lurid glare,
Burst out upon the midnight air.
And what had seemed so strong and fair,
Now lay a mass of ruins there;
Triumphantly look'd all our foes,
And gloated o'er our many woes.
But men of iron nerve and will,
Looked up to God, with courage still:
Believing He their cries would heed,
And prove a friend in time of need.
79The tiny seeds of kindness sown,
Into a mighty tree has grown,
And youth and maiden side by side,
Sit 'neath its spreading branches wide.
And though the seed be sown in Payne,
The trite old saying we maintain:
That whosoe'er in Payne we sow,
By faith's tears watered it shall grow.
Our trust untarnished by alloy,
We sow in tears but reap in joy;
And may thy praises never cease,
And all thy paths be those of peace.