1812–1882

Introduction

Born: Ap­ril 7, 1812, South Shields, Dur­ham, Eng­land.

Died: No­vem­ber 15, 1882, Bridge of Al­lan (near Stir­ling), Scot­land.

Biography

William was the son of Will­iam Bruce, Unit­ed Se­ces­sion min­is­ter at South Shields (who, af­ter 1818, ran the Ar­doch Acad­e­my, Card­ross, Dum­bar­ton­shire).

He at­tended the Un­i­ver­si­ty of Glas­gow (DD 1868), and in 1838, be­came min­is­ter of the In­fir­ma­ry Street Unit­ed Pres­by­ter­i­an Church in Ed­in­burgh (then Cow­gate).

He was Mo­der­at­or of Sy­nod in 1869, and in 1870 joined the Unit­ed Pres­by­ter­i­an Church’s Hym­nal Com­mit­tee.

Publications

Poem

Jacob’s Blessing

Gather, my children, round my bed,
And let my parting words be said,
That each may know what each shall see,
In coming days of destiny:
Ye sons of Jacob, all be near,
And Israel, your father, hear.

Reuben, my eldest-born, my might,
My manhood’s opening flower,
To thee pertained the primal right
Of dignity and power.
But ah! inconstant as the swell
Of waters, thou shalt not excel:
Thou hast dared to go up to thy father’s place;
He did me wrong in his forwardness.

Simeon and Levi, brethren are ye,
In your tents are the weapons of cruelty.
Come not, my soul—O come not thou
Into the secret place of their bow;
Unto the council of their plot,
O mine honor, unite thee not.
In their anger they feared not to shed man’s blood,
And they digged down a wall in their hardihood,
Their ire be accurst;
For fierce was their ire:
And the wrath they nursed—
’Twas a cruel fire.
Divided in Jacob they shall be,
And scattered in Israel’s company.

Judah, thy brethren shall raise
The song of thy praise;
On the neck of thy foes thy hand shall be,
And thy father’s children shall bow to thee.
Like the lion’s whelp, my princely son
Up from the stricken prey hath gone;
He stoopeth; he coucheth; who may dare
To rouse up the strong lion from his lair?
The scepter, placed in Judah’s hand,
His hand shall not resign;
Nor judge be wanting, in the land,
Of Judah’s royal line;
Until the promised Shiloh come,
And call the waiting nations home.
He shall bind his ass to the branch of the vine,
And his colt where its choicest tendrils twine;
He shall dip his robes in the purple flood,
Where the trampled grape-fruits yield their blood.
His eye from the vintage comes ruddy and bright,
And his teeth with the hue of the milk are white.

Zebulun, thine abode shall be
At the havens of the western sea.
To thy ports shall the sailor ply the oar,
And thy border reach unto Zidon’s shore.

William Bruce
Hebrew Odes and Oth­er Po­ems, 1874

Sources

Lyrics