Give me the wings of faith to rise
within the veil, and see
the saints above, how great their joys,
how bright their glories be.
Once they were mourning here below,
and wet their couch with tears:
they wrestled hard, as we do now,
with sins, and doubts, and fears.
I ask them whence their victory came:
they, with united breath,
ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
their triumph to his death.
They marked the footsteps that he trod,
his zeal inspired their breast;
and following their incarnate God,
possess the promised rest.
Our glorious Leader claims our praise
for his own pattern given;
while the long cloud of witnesses
show the same path to heaven.
That this evening may be holy, good and peaceful,
let us pray with one heart and mind.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophetsâ€”who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreatedâ€”of whom the world was not worthyâ€”wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.