The Harrowing of Hell


The demons watched in dark delight

As things worked by their plan;

The Son of God nailed to a cross

Mute like a simple lamb.

 
The mighty angels hovering near

Their awesome light swords sheathed;

Could only mourn the Lord of All

Pinned by nails beneath.

 
And when the shuddering breath tore forth

And "It is finished" was the cry;

The dragon in his murky lair

Rejoiced for the Son to die.

 
In the nether world of dark

A party was begun

And demons danced and drank

And sang, "Finished is the Son".

 
But the earth tossed to and fro

Cracked and heaved and retched;

The sun refused its light to shine

On the Son's dark death.

 
Hell was happy for a time,

And festal depravity

Reigned while satan boasted loud

"Stronger than the Son, that's me!"

 
Thinking Jesus ever dead

The evil ones held fest;

But a gleam in Abram's eye

Showed he was roused from rest.

 
And then a mighty thunder shook

The very gates of hell;

And the demon's wonder rose

As footsteps jarred them well.

 
Hell's horror saw the face

Of the risen Son of God;

Two-edged Sword of truth

Sliced deep into their sod.

 
Trembling lord of darkness

Gave keys of death and grave;

Relinquished entry into hell

So this key too he gave.

 
The devils were defeated,

What had happened to their plan?

How did dead Jesus rise?

This awesome Son of Man?

 
The rocks and clefts could not hide

From this lawful wrath;

They clamored to hide themselves

Away from His righteous path.

 
Abram heard His Master

Come to set him free;

And gathered all the saints of old

To fly to eternity.

 
Captivity was led captive

While we thought Him entombed;

The spoil of hell accomplished:

Here disciples knelt in gloom.

 
Graves split in Jerusalem

Saints walked in the streets;

Appeared to many people

Voicing evil's defeat.

 
The serpent lay defanged,

Death removed of sting;

The grave no more victorious

Over Jesus Christ the King.

 
Heaven's open portals

Welcomed back the great;

The saints in triumph marching

With Jesus through God's gate.

 
Abram bowed to His Father,

God welcomed His friend,

Moses knelt to worship,

The ancients ushered in.

 
In the Heavenly temple,

The Son offered up His blood;

Salvation bought forever,

Redemption's work was done.

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1998 Karleen E. Page, All rights reserved.