This gorgeous, uplifting, and hope-filled piece by Elaine Hagenberg was brought to the attention of the Havergal Trust by a subscriber named Philip.
(The “Alpha and Omega” chorus is not by Frances but was adapted from Rev. 21:5-6.)
Light after darkness, gain after loss,
Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears,
Home after wandering, praise after tears.
Alpha and Omega,
beginning and the end,
He is making all things new.
Springs of living water
shall wash away each tear,
He is making all things new.
Sight after mystery, sun after rain,
Joy after sorrow, peace after pain;
Near after distant, gleam after gloom,
Love after wandering, life after tomb.”
Original Poem: “Right”
This song was adapted from the last section of Frances Ridley Havergal’s poem called “Right.”
from pages 434-440 of Volume I of The Complete Works of Frances Ridley Havergal R i g h t ! Scene I. The summer sun was high and strong, And dust was on the traveller’s feet: Oh, weary was the stage and long, And burning was the early heat! There was a pause. For Ernest stood Upon the borders of a wood. Between him and his home it lay, Stretching in mystery away: What might be there he could not tell Of briery steep, or mossy dell, Of bog or brake, of glen or glade, All hidden by the dim green shade. He had not passed that way before, And wonderingly he waited now, While mystic voices, o’er and o’er, Soft whispered on from bough to bough. Oh, was it only wind and trees That made such gentle whisperings? Or was it some sweet spirit breeze That bore a message on its wings, And bid the traveller that day Go forward on his woodland way? How should he know ? He had no clue, And more than one fair opening lay Before him, where the broad boughs threw Cool, restful shade across the way. Which should he choose ? He could not trace The onward track by vision keen; The drooping branches interlace, Not far the winding paths are seen. Oh for a sign ! Were choice not right, Was no return, for well he knew The hours were short, and swift the night; Once entered, he must hasten through. For what hath been can never be As if it had not been at all; We gaze, but never more can we Retrace one footstep’s wavering fall. Oh, how we need from day to day A guiding Hand for all the way! Oh, how we need from hour to hour That faithful, ever-present Power! Which should he choose? He pondered long, And with the sounds of bird and bee He blent an oft-repeated song, A soft and suppliant melody : ‘Oh for a light from heaven, Clear and divine, Now on the paths before me Brightly to shine! Oh for a hand to beckon! Oh for a voice to say, “Follow in firm assurance— This is the way!” ‘Listening to mingling voices, Seeking a guiding hand, Watching for light from heaven, Waiting I stand; Onward and homeward pressing, Nothing my feet should stay, Might I but plainly hear it,— “This is the way!” ’ Was it indeed an answer given, That whisper through the tree-tops o’er him? Was it indeed a light from heaven That fell upon the path before him? Or was it only that he met The wayward playing of the breeze, Parting the heavy boughs to let The sunshine fall among the trees? Again he listened—did it say, ‘This is the onward, homeward way?’ Perhaps it did. He would not wait, But pressing towards a Mansion Gate That, yet unseen, all surely stood Beyond the untried, unknown wood, And trusting that his prayer was heard, Although he caught no answering word, And gazing on with calm, clear eye The straightest, surest path to spy (Not seeking out the smooth and bright, If he might only choose the right), With hopeful heart and manly tread, Into the forest depths he sped. Scene II. Hours flit on, and the sunshine fails in the zenith of day; Hours flit on, and the loud wind crashes and moans o’er the ridge; Heavily beateth the strong rain, lashing the miry clay, Hoarsely roareth the torrent under the quivering bridge. Under the shivering pine-trees, over the slippery stone, Over the rugged boulder, over the cold wet weed, Ernest the traveller passeth, storm-beaten, weary and lone, Only following faintly whither the path may lead. Leading down to the valleys, dank in the shadow of death, Leading on through the briers, poisonous, keen, and sore; Leading up to the grim rocks, mounted with panting breath, Only to gain a glimpse of sterner toil before. Faint and wounded and bleeding, hungry, thirsty, and chill, Hardly a step before him seen through the tangled brake, Rougher and wilder the storm-blast, steeper the thorn grown hill, Brave heart and bright eye and strong limb, well may they quiver and ache! Was it indeed the right way? Was it a God-led choice, Followed in faith and patience, and chosen not for ease? Was it a false, false gleam, and a mocking, mocking voice That fell on the woodland pathway, and murmured among the trees? Oh the dire mistake ! fatal freedom to choose! Had he but taken a fair path, sheltered, level, and straight, Never a thorn to wound him, never a stone to bruise, Leading safely and softly on to the Mansion Gate! Was it the wail of a wind-harp, cadencing weird and long, Pulsing under the pine-trees, dying to wake again? Is it the voice of a brave heart striving to utter in song Agony, prayer, and reliance, courage and wonder and pain? ‘Onward and homeward ever, Battling with dark distress, Faltering, but yielding never, Still shall my faint feet press. Why was no beckoning hand Sent in my doubt and need ? Why did no true guide stand Guiding me right indeed ? Why ? They will tell me all When I have reached the gate, Where, in the shining hall, Many my coming wait. ‘Oh the terrible night, Falling without a star! Darkness anear, but light— Glorious light afar! Oh the perilous way! Oh the pitiless blast! Long though I suffer and stray, There will be rest at last. Perhaps I have far to go, Perhaps but a little way! Well that I do not know! Onward ! I must not stay. ‘Splinter and thorn and brier Yet may be sore and keen; Rocks may be rougher and higher, Hollows more chill between. There may be torrents to cross, Bridgeless, and fierce with foam; Rest in the wild wood were loss, There will be rest at home. Battling with dark distress, Faltering, but yielding never, Still shall my faint feet press Onward and homeward ever!’ Pulsing under the pine-trees, dying, dying,—and gone,— Gone that Æolian cadence, silent the firm refrain; Only the howl of the storm-wind rages cruelly on: Has the traveller fallen, vanquished by toil and pain? Scene III. Morning, morning on the mountains, golden-vestured, snowy-browed! Morning light of clear resplendence, shining forth without a cloud; Morning songs of jubilation, thrilling through the crystal air; Morning joy upon all faces, new and radiant, pure and fair. At the portals of the mansion, Ernest stands and gazes back. There is light upon the river, light upon the forest track; Light upon the darkest valley, light upon the sternest height; Light upon the brake and bramble, everywhere that glorious light! Strong and joyous stands the traveller, in the morning glory now, Not a shade upon the brightness of the cool and peaceful brow; Not a trace of weary faintness, not a touch of lingering pain, Not a scar to wake the memory of the suffering hours again. Onward by the winding pathway, many another journeyed fast, Hastening to the princely mansion by the way that he had passed; Spared the doubting and the erring by those footsteps bravely placed In the clogging mire, or trampling on the wounding bramble-waste. Some had followed close behind him, pressing to the self-same mark, Cheered and guided by the refrain of that singer in the dark; Some were near him in the tempest, while he thought himself alone, And regained a long-lost pathway, following that beckoning tone. Some who patiently, yet feebly, sought to reach that mansion too, Caught the unseen singer ’s courage, battled on with vigour new; Some, exhausted in the struggle, sunk in slumber chill and deep, Started at that strange voice near them, rousing from their fatal sleep. Now they meet and gather round him, and together enter in, Where the rest is consummated and the joys of home begin, Where the tempest cannot reach them, where the wanderings are past, Where the sorrows of the journey not a single shadow cast. Singing once in dismal forest, singing once in cruel storm, Singing now at home in gladness in the sunshine bright and warm, Once again the voice resoundeth, pouring forth a happy song, While a chorus of rejoicing swells the sweet notes full and long: ‘Light after darkness, Gain after loss, Strength after suffering, Crown after cross. Sweet after bitter, Song after sigh, Home after wandering, Praise after cry. ‘Sheaves after sowing, Sun after rain, Sight after mystery, Peace after pain. Joy after sorrow, Calm after blast, Rest after weariness, Sweet rest at last. ‘Near after distant, Gleam after gloom, Love after loneliness, Life after tomb. After long agony, Rapture of bliss! Right was the pathway Leading to this!’ Frances Ridley Havergal Leamington, June 18.1872