Locusts and Wild Honey

… for this feast day of the first “Baptist”:  Saint John the Baptist, the kinsman of Christ.

Let thine example, holy John, remind us
Ere we can meetly sing thy deeds of wonder,
Hearts must be chastened, and the bonds that bind us
Broken asunder!

Lo! a swift angel, from the skies descending,
Tells to thy father what shall be thy naming,
All thy life’s greatness to its bitter ending
Duly proclaiming.

And what a splendour and a revelation
Came to each mother, at thy joyful leaping,
Greeting thy Monarch, King of every nation,
In the womb sleeping.

Angels in orders everlasting praise thee,
God, in thy triune Majesty tremendous;
Hark to the prayers we penitents upraise thee:
Save and defend us.

~ Paulus Diaconus, 8th cent.  Trans. R. H. R.

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I apologize for the lackadaisical posting of late.  My husband’s mother has recently passed away, and we are much occupied with logistical and familial affairs.  I’ll still be posting here (of course!), but more sporadically than usual, as everything gets sorted.

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Jesus, still lead on
Till our rest be won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless;
Guide us by thy hand
To our fatherland.

If the way be drear,
If the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears overtake us,
Let not faith and hope forsake us;
For through many a foe
To our home we go.

Jesus, still lead on
Till our rest be won;
Heavenly leader, still direct us,
Still support, console, protect us,
Till we safely stand
In our fatherland.

~ Count Nicholaus L. von Zinzendorf (1778)

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The Cross Hath Won the Field

A good hymn for Ascension Sunday, no?

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Lift up your heads, ye gates of brass,
Ye bars of iron, yield,
And let the King of Glory pass;
The cross is in the field.

That banner, brighter than the star
That leads the train of night,
Shines on their march, and guides from far
His servants to the fight.

A holy war those servants wage;
In that mysterious strife,
The powers of heaven and hell engage
For more than death or life.

Ye armies of the living God,
Sworn warriors of Christ’s host,
Where hallowed footsteps never trod
Take your appointed post.

Though few and small and weak your bands,
Strong in your Captain’s strength
Go to the conquest of all lands;
All must be his at length.

The spoils at his victorious feet
You shall rejoice to lay,
And lay yourselves, as trophies meet,
In his great judgment day.

Then fear not, faint not, halt not now;
Quit you like men, be strong!
To Christ shall all the nations bow,
And sing with you this song.

Uplifted are the gates of brass,
The bars of iron yield;
Behold the King of Glory pass;
The cross hath won the field!

~ James Montgomery, 1843

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Ascension Day

Leave me alone, and let me look
Into that bright enticing blue:
The floor of heaven, as if I knew
What feet walk there, or what they do.

We hear of four-faced Cherubim
And spirits in the shape of wheels
With eyes of fire around each rim
Like chariots on heaven’s hills.

The seraphim with burning coals
Hide deep beneath their six-fold wing,
Their feet and faces as they sing
To all but Elohim unseen.

And somewhere, like a mountain range,
The martyrs march a million strong,
Stamping and chanting as if their song
Had crushed the serpent these ages long.

Abraham sits beneath his tree
And nurtures in his bosom wide
The souls of men as the sands by the sea,
And leprous Lazarus who died.

Four horsemen wait, and from their steeds
Proceeds a restless bitter breath;
They smell the scent of human deeds,
They answer with the sweat of death.

The Lamb amasses on the Mount
Ten thousand chariots of fire,
To take, when time has drawn us nigher,
Hell by force, Earth by desire.

For Christ went up into that sky
Long, long ago (such years have passed!),
And though its arc be high and vast,
He must come down again at last.

So leave me alone, and let me look
Into that bright enticing sky:
For they must come, or else must I
At last go up to them on high.

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The sepulcher

Here, where our Lord once laid his head,
Now the grave lies buriéd.

~ Richard Crashaw, 1613-1649

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An Easter Psalm

Psalm 45

Of the King of heavenly beauty
I will sing an anthem rare:
Lily of the Valley is he,
Fairer than our flesh is fair.
Where He is, the sweetness fully
Of all graces gathers there.

Gird Thyself with kingly glory,
O Thou mighty among men:
Every foe shall fly before Thee,
Every knee to Thee shall bend.
Righteous is Thy reign, and holy,
And Thy kingdom shall not end.

All Thy garments smell of aloes
From the halls of ivory,
And Thy passing presence hallows
Every heart that longs for Thee.
Where Thou art, the virgins follow
And rejoice surpassingly.

Let me think upon no other,
Let me find no other fair:
I will leave my earthly lovers,
Father’s house and worldly care,
That this King beyond all other
May receive and love me e’er.

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Resurrectus est

The Christians of the 11th century put it well:

Christians, to the paschal victim
Offer your thankful praises!

A Lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconcileth sinners to the Father;

Death and life have contended
In that combat stupendous;
The prince of Life, who died, reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring
What thou sawest wayfaring:

“The Tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ Resurrection:
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yea, Christ my hope is arisen:
To Galilee he goes before you.”

Happy they who hear the witness,
Mary’s word believing.
Above the tales of doubt and deceiving.

Christ indeed from death is risen,
Our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

~ Victimae paschali, Latin, 11th c.

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