I'm thinking how the temples of our nation rang today,
With the anthems of thanksgiving that have scarcely died away;
How back to many homesteads the wandering feet have come,
And 'round the hearthstone gathers the grandsire and the son.
I am thinking how the bounties, by Nature's hand out-poured,
Have crowned with good and plenty, the gay and festal board;
How love's dear light is burning, its language in each eye,
And hearts forget what may be in the hidden by-and-by.
I'm dreaming o'er the mem'ries, those amaranthine flowers
That fill with rarest fragrance these velvet-footed hours;
But I turn from all the gladness of this and other years,
To think of what is filling too many eyes with tears.
There's an undertone of sadness in our song of praise today,
For a cloud has gathered o'er us, in the year just passed away;
How much of joy is clouded by the hearthstone everywhere,
As shadowed eyes turn fondly toward the vacant chair.
There's war within our borders, and many homes are sad,
For lack of manly voices which last year made them glad;
For lack of eyes now turning from the campfire's light to hide
The tears which show that mem'ry is stronger far than pride.
I ween the mirth was quiet by many boards today,
As the smile shone through the tear-drops, for soldiers far away;
And voices of thanksgiving sank lower to a prayer,
As eyes with wistful yearning fell on the vacant chair.
There's war within our borders, and there are homes tonight
From which its awful shadow has shut out all the light;
The loved and brave have perished in the battle's fiery rain,
And the chairs which they left vacant, will ne'er be filled again.
There are hearts all o'er our country, too sad for songs of praise,
Whose light and joy are lying within a soldier's grave,
And other hearts whose gladness is darkened by the fear
Of what may be their portion before another year.
Some voices have sung anthems in the house of God today,
But more have bowed in silence, with saddened hearts to pray
That God would make up losses to the mourner, by his care,
And bring once more the loved ones to fill the vacant chair.