Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Martyrs of Scotland

Horatius Bonar (1808 - 1889), the author of this poem, was born and educated in Edinburgh. He had been a minister in the Church of Scotland in Kelso for a number of years when, like many of his fellow preachers, he joined the Free Church of Scotland at the time of the "Disruption" in 1843. That meant losing his parish and he moved to Edinburgh and later Aberdeen. He was a voluminous and highly popular author and, in addition to many books and tracts, wrote a number of hymns, many of which became known all over the English-speaking world.

This is a sombre poem about Scotland's many martyrs who have perished over the centuries for many different causes. But it finishes on a positive note - the names of the martyrs will never be forgotten.

The Martyrs of Scotland

There was gladness in Zion, her standard was flying,
Free o'er her battlements glorious and gay.
All fair as the morning shone forth her adorning,
And fearful to foes was her godly array.

There is mourning in Zion, her standard is lying
Defiled in the dust, to the spoiler a prey;
And now there is wailing, and sorrow prevailing,
For the best of her children are weeded away.

The good have been taken, their place is forsaken -
The man and the maiden, the green and the gray;
The voice of the weepers wails over the sleepers -
The martyrs of Scotland that now are away.

The hue of her waters is crimsoned with slaughters,
And the blood of the martyrs has reddened the clay;
And dark desolation broods over the nation,
For the faithful are perished, the good are away.

On the mountains of heather they slumber together.
On the wastes of the moorland their bodies decay.
How sound is their sleeping, how safe is their keeping
Though far from their kindred they molder away.

Their blessing shall hover, their children to cover,
Like the cloud of the desert, by night and by day.
Oh, never to perish, their names let us cherish,
The martyrs of Scotland that now are away.

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