Thursday, 24 December 2015

My Mother's Carol

It is eighteen years since my mother died. Needless to say, I still miss her, and particularly at Christmas. The way we celebrate Christmas (and Advent, too) is very much according to her design.

Here is a verse she wrote as a Christmas carol.  It is sung to the tune of Let all mortal flesh keep silence, but without the repeat of the first line of melody.  That apparently is how it was originally written (a Picardy carol tune) and the hymnologist Erik Routley commissioned my mother to write a lyric that honoured that. (In the book, Routley notes: The association of this tune with a solemn eucharistic hymn in English hymn books should not prejudice its interpretation here: it is a French peasant carol and should be sung simply and more or less in speech rhythm).  

For myself, I find it almost impossible to sing the tune without the repeated first line.

Anyway, here is my mother's lyric: 

God in highest heaven seeing 
All man's bitter grief and shame
Laid aside his power, his majesty, his bliss, 
To the rescue swiftly came.

God the Son, the Word eternal
Made himself a man on earth,
Entering a world that he himself had made
Through the lowly gate of birth.

There the baby lay in a manger
For his mother had no bed
Thirty years went by, and still the Son of God
Had no place to lay his head.

Yet he did not rest till, testing
Every depth of utter loss,
He, the Lord, was hanging, nailed through hands and feet
Stripped and dead upon a cross.

Jesus, Master, King of glory, 
Teach us loving you alone,
With a joyous will to follow you in peace
By the road that you have shown.


Requiescat in pace

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