The Psalms of Revelation

Why don’t books of metrical psalms ever include the psalms from the Revelation of St. John?  There are tons of them.  Many of them are short, so I thought: “why not collect them all together into one (long) hymn?”  So here it is.

I’ve noted at the end of each stanza where you can find the specific text that the stanza is supposed to metricize.  Some of them, I admit, are quite loose.  The first verse is introductory, but I’ve referenced the famous “Come up hither” in 4:1 anyway.

A note here about style and melody.  This is a somewhat self-conscious imitation of the “Sacred Harp” style—which, if you’re familiar with it, is wonderfully colorful and energetic, even at the cost of polish. So the wording here is a bit rough, but the images (I hope) vibrant. The tune I had in mind was “Restoration” (the Sacred Harp tune for “I Will Arise and Go To Jesus”). I imagine a full-throated congregation singing this with a call-and-response structure, the men and women for instance taking turns (which helps people get through long hymns anyway), and everyone of course joining in for the choruses. But that’s just me.

*        *        *       *       *

Come, ye sinners, come and hasten,
Leave your earthly joys and pains:
Cleanse your hearts and come up hither
Where the Lamb in power reigns.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the host of heaven cry.
“Alleluia!” let us answer: “Glory be to God on high.”    4:1

See the throne of God Eternal,
Hear the thunder of the Word,
See the living creatures crying
“Holy, holy, holy Lord.”
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the six-winged seraphs cry.
“Alleluia!” let us answer: “Lord Almighty and Most High.”    4:2-8

Thou art worthy of all glory,
Praise and blessing as is meet;
For Thy sake were we created,
And our crowns surround Thy feet.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the holy elders cry.
“Alleluia!” let us answer: “Worthy is the Lord on high.”    4:9-11

From all nations He has claimed us,
Bought us with His precious blood:
By His bitter death He made us
Kings and priests unto our God.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the priests and prophets cry.
“Alleluia!” let us answer, “ever to the Lamb on high.”    5:9-10

Abaddon, the great Destroyer,
Christ alone has fought and slain;
Beast and dragon flee together,
For the Lamb of God shall reign.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the thrones of heaven cry.
“Alleluia! Lord,” we answer, “take the power and reign on high.”    11:16-18

Who, O Jesu, will not fear Thee
And give thanks with praises sweet?
Every nation shall draw near Thee,
Falling at Thy piercéd feet.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the tribes and peoples cry.
“Great desire of every nation: Crown Him, crown Him king on high.”     15:3-4

That great City which oppressed us,
That great City reigns no more:
For she sold the meek and righteous,
Robbed the just, and killed the poor.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the waiting martyrs cry.
“Babylon no more shall grieve us: Glory be to God on high!”    18:1-19:3

Babylon is fallen, fallen:
Angels cast her like a stone.
Evil now shall be forgotten,
Satan’s name no more be known.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the great arch-angels cry.
“Alleluia!” let us answer: “Peace forever more on high.”     18:2, 18:21

Come, my people, to the marriage
And the feasting of the Lamb:
For the Bride is pure and spotless,
And the Bridegroom is at hand.
“Alleluia! Alleluia!” hear the Bride and Spirit cry.
“O come quickly, Lord,” we answer: “Call us up to Thee on high.”     19:6-8, 22:17, 20


About middlingpoet

From the Gawain poet to Rainer Maria Rilke: I love traditional poetry.
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