America! Exult in God by James Ireland

This poem was written by one of my heroes, James Ireland, a Baptist pastor in Virginia during the years following the Revolutionary War. The persecution he experienced in a then predominantly Anglican state influenced the writing of the First Amendment (particularly freedom of religion) of the Bill of Rights.

America! exult in God
With joyful acclamation;
Who has, through scenes of war and blood,
Displayed to thee salvation.
When armed hosts,
With warlike boasts,
Did threaten thy destruction,
And crossed the main,
With martial train,
To compass thy subjection;
Thy sole resource was God alone,
Who heard thy cries before his throne,
Beheld with hate their schemes of blood
Impending o’er thee like a flood,
And made them know it was in vain
To make thee longer drag their chain;
That thou shouldst be
A nation free
From their unjust oppression.

Hail! now ye sons of liberty,
Behold thy constitution!
Despotic power and tyranny
Have seen their dissolution.
No clattering arms,
No war’s alarms,
Nor threats of royal vengeance;
Thy hostile foes
Have left off those;
Now own thy Independence.
Replete with peace, valiant we stand,
Freedom the basis of our land;
Blest with the beams of gospel light,
Our souls emerge from sable night;
Jehovah’s heralds loud proclaim
Eternal life through Jesus’ name,
Point out his blood
The way to God,
For our complete salvation.

Amid the blessings we enjoy
From God the gracious giver,
Let gratitude our hearts employ,
To praise his name forever;
Beware of pride,
Lest, like a tide,
It flows and gains possession;
‘Mongst empires all,
Both great and small,
Pride always brought oppression;
Pride finds the way to rule and reign,
And forges the despotic chain;
Denies we should enjoy or have
The right that God in nature gave.
Against this baleful evil fight
Resist its force with all your might,
And join as one,
Before the throne,
That God would keep us humble.

Most gracious God, thee we adore,
Whose mercy faileth never;
Thy guardian care we now implore,
Be thou our king forever;
May gospel rays
Divinely blaze
With an immortal lustre,
And teach us how
Our hearts to bow
To the Redeemer’s sceptre!
Oh may the silver trump of peace
Within our empire never cease,
Until the ransomed, holy race,
Are called in by sovereign grace.
Then may the conflagration come,
And sinners rise to hear their doom!
Thy chosen ones,
In endless songs,
Will shout forth hallelujahs!