On fair Britania's isle, bright bird,
A legend strange is told of thee,--
'Tis said thy blithesome song was hushed
While Christ toiled up Mount Calvary,
Bowed 'neath the sins of all mankind;
And humbled to the very dust
By the vile cross, while viler men
Mocked with a crown of thorns the Just.
Pierced by our sorrows, and weighed down
By our transgressions,--faint and weak,
Crushed by an angry Judge's frown,
And agonies no word can speak,--
'Twas then, dear bird, the legend says
That thou, from out His crown, didst tear
The thorns, to lighten the distress
And ease the pain that he must bear,
While pendant from thy tiny beak
The gory points thy bosom pressed,
And crimsoned with thy Saviour's blood
The sober brownness of thy breast!
Since which proud hour for thee and thine.
As an especial sign of grace
God pours like sacramental wine
Red signs of favor o'er thy race!