When papal darkness over our isle
Its dim diffusion spread,
Then Romish priests, by subtle wiles,
The ignorant misled.
Then gospel light did faintly shine,
And few beheld its rays,
Till mercy shot her beams divine,
And did a Wycliffe raise.
Bright Morning Star, who first appeared
To hail the gospel day;
Dauntless Reformer! thou wert reared
To chase Rome’s mists away.
What though by hell and pope pursued,
With restless malice fraught,
Fearless and bold brave Wycliffe stood,
Defending what he taught.
The great foundation he began
With pious zeal to lay;
After-ages beheld the plan,
And reared the structure high.
Rome now no more exerts her sway
O’er Britain’s favoured land;
The gospel light now shines as day,
And Jesus’ truths command.
O may this truth be known to all,
And hardened hearts relent;
Sinners obey that awful call
That bids to all repent.
Lest we again should God provoke,
A guilty isle to smite,
Or yield us up to Roman yoke,
And turn our day to night.
While yet ’tis day, the time improve,
Consult the sacred plan:
Read, mark, learn–admire redeeming love,
That died for sinful man.
Author unattributed. Published in The Gospel Magazine, February 1766.
Can the authorship be traced?
As noted, the author was not listed when originally published. Perhaps an expert on 18th Century English Protestant poetry could chime in …