Do You Hear the Women Praying?

by Frances Fuller Victor

[Read before the Women's Prayer League of Portland, Oregon, May 27, 1874.]

Do you hear the women praying, oh my brothers?

Do you hear what words they say?

These, this free-born nation's wives and mothers,

Bowing, where you proudly stand, to pray!

Can you coldly look upon their faces,

Pale, sad faces, seamed with frequent tears;

See their hands uplifted in their places—

Hands that toiled for all your boyhood's years?

Can you see your wives and daughters pleading

In the dust you spurn beneath your feet,

Baring hearts for years in secret bleeding,

To the scoffs and jestings of the street?

Can you hear, and yet not heed the crying

Of the children perishing for bread?

Born in fear, not love, and daily dying,

Cursed of God, they think, but cursed of you instead?

Do you hear the women praying, oh my brothers?

Hear the oft-repeated burden of their prayer—

Hear them asking for one boon above all others—

Not for vengeance on the wrongs they have to bear;

But imploring, as their Lord did, "God forgive them,

For they know not what they do;

Strike the sin, but spare the sinners—save them"—

Meaning, oh ye men and brothers, you!

For your heels have ground the women's faces;

You have coined their blood and tears for gold;

Have betrayed their kisses and embraces—

Returned their love with curses twentyfold;

Made the wife's crown one of thorns and not of honor,

Made her motherhood a pain and dread;

Heaped life's toil unrecompensed upon her;

Laid her sons upon her bosom, dead!

Do you hear the women praying, oh my brothers?

Have you not one word to say?

Will a just God be as gentle as these mothers,

If you dare to say them nay?

Oh, ye men, God waits for you to answer

The prayers that to him rise,

He waits to know if you are just ere He is—

There your deliverance lies!

Rise and assert the manhood of this nation,

Its courage, honor, might—

Wipe off the dust of our humiliation—

Dare nobly to do right!

Shall women plead from out the dust forever?

Will you not work, men, if you cannot pray?

Hold up the suppliant hands with your endeavor,

And seize the world's salvation while you may.

Yes, from the eastern to the western ocean,

The sound of prayer is heard;

And in our hearts great billows of emotion

At every breath are stirred.

From mountain tops of prayer down to sin's valley

The voice of women sounds the cry, "Come up!"

O, men and brothers, heed that cry, and rally—

Help us to dash to earth the deadly cup!