The Jubilee Hymn by Thomas Spence, 1782



Thomas Spence

The Jubilee Hymn: Or, A Song to be sung at the Commencement of the Millennium, If Not Sooner.

Words by the English radical Thomas Spence, in 1782, published in his journal PIGS MEAT, which Spence described as ‘This is that matchless pigs meat, so famous far and near. Oppressors hearts it fills with dread, but poor mans hearts does cheer.’

In England, this song is sung to the tune of ‘God Save the King’, in America it’s “My Country ‘Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty”

HARK! how the trumpet’s sound
Proclaims the land around
The Jubilee!
Tell all the poor oppress’d,
No more they shall be cess’d.
Nor landlords more molest
Their property.

Rents t’ourselves now we pay
Dreading no quarter day,
Fraught with distress.
Welcome that day draws near,
For then our rents we share,
Earth’s rightful Lords we are
Ordain’d for this.

Now hath th’ oppressor ceas’d,
And all the world releas’d
From Misery!
The Fir-trees all rejoice,
And cedars lift their voice,
Ceas’d now the FELLERS’ noise,
Long rais’d by thee.

The sceptre now is broke,
Which with continual stroke
The Nations smote!
Hell from beneath doth rise,
To meet thy lofty eyes,
From the most pompous size,
Now brought to nought!

Since then this Jubilee
Sets all at Liberty,
Let us be glad.
Behold each man return
To his possession
No more like drones to mourn
By landlords sad!

The first verse refers to the Jubilee legislation in Leviticus chapter 25.

In the second verse, ‘Quarter Day’ is the rent day paid 4 times a year.

Tower of Babel detail

Detaiol of  Toren van Babel, by Bruegel

The Fall of Babylon

The third and fourth stanzas quote Isaiah 14:4-8, which prophesies the fall of Babylon in the day when the Lord will give his people rest from oppression:

4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!

5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers.

6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.

7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.

8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.

9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?

11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!