George MacDonald

Part 2 out of 3

And himself a hovel buildeth
That same cloister nigh,
Where the lime-tree thicket yieldeth
Cover whence to spy.
There, from morning's earliest traces
Till red evening shone,
Thither turned his hoping face is,
There he sits alone.

On the walls so high above him,
His eyes waiting hang,
Waiting, though she would not love him,
For her lattice-clang--
Waiting till the loved should send her
Glance into the vale,
And, unthinking, toward it bend her
Visage, angel-pale.

Then he laid him, sadness scorning,
Comforted to sleep;
Quietly joyous till the morning
Out again should peep.
And so sat he, years a many,
Years without a pang,
Waiting without murmur any
Till her window rang--

For the lovely one to send her
Glance into the vale,
And, unseeing, toward him bend her
Angel visage pale.
And thus sat he, staring wanly,
His last morning there:
Toward her window still the manly
Silent face did stare.


Ah, from out this valley hollow,
By cold fogs always oppressed,
Could I but the outpath follow--
Ah, how were my spirit blest!
Hills I see there, glad dominions,
Ever young, and green for aye!
Had I wings, oh, had I pinions,
To the hills were I away!

Harmonies I hear there ringing,
Tones of sweetest heavenly rest;
And the gentle winds are bringing
Balmy odours to my breast!
Golden fruits peep out there, glowing
Through the leaves to Zephyr's play;
And the flowers that there are blowing
Will become no winter's prey!

Oh, what happy things are meeting
There, in endless sunshine free!
And the airs on those hills greeting,
How reviving must they be!
But me checks yon raving river
That betwixt doth chafe and roll;
And its dark waves rising ever
Strike a horror to my soul!

See a skiff on wild wave heaving!
But no sailor walks the mole.
Quick into it, firm believing,
For its sails they have a soul!
Thou must trust, nor wait to ponder:
God will give no pledge in hand;
Nought but miracle bears yonder
To the lovely wonderland!




Poems are painted window-panes:
Look from the square into the church--
Gloom and dusk are all your gains!
Sir Philistine is left in the lurch:
Outside he stands--spies nothing or use of it,
And nought is left him save the abuse of it.

But you, I pray you, just step in;
Make in the chapel your obeisance:
All at once 'tis a radiant pleasaunce:
Device and story flash to presence;
A gracious splendour works to win.
This to God's children is full measure:
It edifies and gives them pleasure.



While yet unknown, and very low,
Our Lord on earth went to and fro;
And some of his scholars his word so good
Very strangely misunderstood--
He much preferred to hold his court
In streets and places of resort,
Because under the heaven's face
Words better and freer flow apace;
There he gave them the highest lore
Out of his holy mouth in store;
Wondrously, by parable and example,
Made every market-place a temple.

So faring, in his heart content,
Once with them to a town he went--
Saw something blinking on the way,
And there a broken horse-shoe lay!
He said thereon St. Peter to,
"Prithee now, pick up that shoe."
St. Peter was not in fitting mood:
He had been dreaming all the road
Some stuff about ruling of the world,
Round which so many brains are twirled--
For in the head it seems so easy!
And with it his thoughts were often busy;
Therefore the finding was much too mean;
Crown and sceptre it should have been!
He was not one his back to bow
After half an iron-shoe!
Therefore aside his head he bended,
And that he had not heard pretended.

In his forbearance the Lord did stoop
And lift himself the horse-shoe up;
Then for the present he did wait.
But when they reach the city-gate,
He goes up to a blacksmith's door,
Receives three pence the horse-shoe for;
And as they through the market fare,
Seeing for sale fine cherries there,
He buys of them so few or so many
As they will give for a three-penny;
Which he, thereon, after his way,
Up in his sleeve did quietly lay.

Now, from the other gate, they trod
Through fields and meads a housless road;
The path of trees was desolate,
The sun shone out, the heat was great;
So that one in a region such
For a drink of water had given much.
The Lord goes ever before them all,
And as by chance lets a cherry fall:
In a trice St. Peter was after it there
As if a golden apple it were!
Sweet to his palate was the berry.
Then by and by, another cherry
Down on the ground the Master sends,
For which St. Peter as quickly bends.
So, many a time, the Lord doth let
Him bend his back a cherry to get.
A long time thus He let him glean;
Then said the Lord, with look serene:
"If at the right time thou hadst bent,
Thou hadst found it more convenient!
Of little things who little doth make
For lesser things must trouble take."


Up there, upon yonder mountain,
Stands a castle old, in the gorse,
Where once, behind doors and portals,
Lurking lay knight and horse.

Burnt are the doors and the portals;
All round it is very still;
Its old walls, tumbled in ruins,
I scramble about at my will.

Close hereby lay a cellar
Full of wine that was old and rare;
But the cheery maid with the pitchers
No more comes down the stair;

No more in the hall, sedately
Sets the beaker before the guest;
No more at the festival stately,
The flagon fills for the priest;

No more to the page so thirsty
Gives a draught in the corridor;
And receives for the hurried favour
The hurried thanks no more.

For every rafter and ceiling
Long ago were to ashes burned,
And stair and passage and chapel
To rubbish and ruin turned.

Yet when, with flask and cittern,
On a day in the summer's prime,
Up to the rocky summit
I watched my darling climb--

Out came the old joy reviving
On the face of the ancient rest,
And on went the old life driving,
In its lordliness and zest;

It seemed as for strangers distinguished
Their state-rooms they did prepare,
And out of that brave time, shadowy
Came stepping a youthful pair.

And the worthy priest in his chapel
Stood already in priestly dress,
And asked--Will you two take one another?
And smiling we answered--Yes;

And the hymns with deep pulsation
Stirred every heart at once;
And instead of the congregation
The echo yelled response.

And when, in the gathered evening,
Profound the stillness grew,
And the red-glowing sun at the broken
Gable came peering through,

Then damsel and page, in his rays, are
Grandees of the olden prime;
She tastes of his cup at her leisure,
And he to thank her takes time.




In the far forest, overhead,
A bell is often heard obscurely;
How long since first, no one can tell--
Nor can report explain it surely:
From the lost church, the rumour hath,
Out on the winds the ringing goeth;
Once full of pilgrims was the path--
Now where to find it, no one knoweth.

Deep in the wood I lately went
Where no foot-trodden way is lying;
From times corrupt, on evil bent,
My heart to God went out in sighing:
There, in the wild wood's deep repose,
I heard the ringing somewhat nearer;
The higher that my longing rose
Its peal grew fuller and came clearer.

My thoughts upon themselves did brood;
My sense was with the sound so busy
That I have never understood
How I did climb that steep so dizzy.
It seemed more than a hundred years
Had passed me over, dreaming, sighing--
When far above the clouds appears
An open space in sunlight lying.

Dark-blue the heavens above it bowed;
The sun was radiant, large, and glowing;
And, see, a minister's structure proud
Stood in the rich light, golden showing.
The clouds around it, sunny-clear,
Seemed bearing it aloft like pinions;
Its spire-point seemed to disappear,
Slow vanishing in heaven's dominions.

The bell's clear tones, of rapture full,
Boomed in the tower and made it quiver;
No mortal hand that rope did pull--
A dumb storm made it swing and shiver.
It seemed to heave my throbbing breast,
That heavenly storm with torrent blended:
With wavering step, yet hopeful quest,
Into the church my way I wended.

What met me there as in I trode
With syllables cannot be painted;
Darksome yet clear, the windows glowed
With forms of all the martyrs sainted.
Then saw I, radiantly unfurled,
Form swell to life and break its barriers;
I looked abroad into a world
Of holy women and God's warriors.

Down at the alter I kneeled soft,
With love and prayer my heart allegiant:
Upon the ceiling, far aloft,
Was painted Heaven's resplendent pageant;
But when again I lift mine eyes,
Lo, the high vault has flown asunder!
The upward gate wide open lies,
And every veil unveils a wonder.

What gloriousness I then beheld
With silent worship, speechless wonder;
What blessed sounds upon me swelled,
Like organs' and like trumpets' thunder--
No human words could ever tell!--
But who for such is sighing sorest,
Let him give heed unto the bell
That dimly soundeth in the forest.


In a garden sweet went walking
Two lovers hand in hand;
Two pallid figures, low talking,
They sat in the flowery land.

They kissed on the cheek one another,
And they kissed upon the mouth;
They held in their arms each the other,
And back came their health and youth.

Two little bells rang shrilly--
And the lovely dream was dead!
She lay in the cloister chilly;
He afar on his dungeon-bed.


" " XLI.
" " XLV.
" " LXIV.



Thy little hand lay on my bosom, dear:
What a knocking in that little chamber!--dost hear?
There dwelleth a carpenter evil, and he
Is hard at work on a coffin for me.

He hammers and knocks by night and by day;
'Tis long since he drove all my sleep away:
Ah, haste thee, carpenter, busy keep,
That I the sooner may go to sleep!



The phantoms of times forgotten
Arise from out their grave,
And show me how once in thy presence
I lived the life it gave.

In the day I wandered dreaming,
Through the streets with unsteady foot;
The people looked at me in wonder,
I was so mournful and mute.

At night, then it was better,
For empty was the town;
I and my shadow together
Walked speechless up and down.

My way, with echoing footstep,
Over the bridge I took;
The moon broke out of the waters,
And gave me a meaning look.

I stopped before thy dwelling,
And gazed, and gazed again--
Stood staring up at thy window,
My heart was in such pain.

I know that thou from thy window
Didst often look downward--and
Sawest me, there in the moonlight,
A motionless pillar stand.



I dreamt of the daughter of a king,
With white cheeks tear-bewetted;
We sat 'neath the lime tree's leavy ring,
In love's embraces netted.

"I would not have thy father's throne,
His crown or his golden sceptre;
I want my lovely princess alone--
From Fate that so long hath kept her."

"That cannot be," she said to me:
"I lie in the grave uncheerly;
And only at night I come to thee,
Because I love thee so dearly."



In the sunny summer morning
Into the garden I come;
The flowers are whispering and talking,
But for me, I wander dumb.

The flowers are whispering and talking;
They pity my look so wan:
"Thou must not be cross with our sister,
Thou sorrowful, pale-faced man!"



Night lay upon mine eyelids;
Upon my mouth lay lead;
With rigid brain and bosom,
I lay among the dead.

How long it was I know not
That sleep oblivion gave;
I wakened up, and, listening,
Heard a knocking at my grave.

"Tis time to rise up, Henry!
The eternal day draws on;
The dead are all arisen--
The eternal joy's begun."

"My love, I cannot raise me;
For I have lost my sight;
My eyes with bitter weeping
They are extinguished quite."

"From thy dear eyelids, Henry,
I'll kiss the night away;
Thou shalt behold the angels,
And Heaven's superb display."

"My love, I cannot raise me;
Still bleeds my bosom gored,
Where thou heart-deep didst stab me
With a keen-pointed word."

"Soft I will lay it, Henry,
My hand soft on thy heart;
And that will stop its bleeding
And soothe at once the smart."

"My love, I cannot raise me--
My head is bleeding too;
When thou wast stolen from me
I shot it through and through!"

"I with my tresses, Henry,
Will stop the fountain red;
Press back again the blood-stream,
And heal thy wounded head."

She begged so sweetly, dearly,
I could no more say no;
I tried, I strove to raise me,
And to my darling go.

Then the wounds again burst open;
With torrent force outbrake
From head and breast the blood-stream,
And, lo, I came awake!



They have company this evening,
And the house is full of light;
Up there at the shining window
Moves a shadowy form in white.

Thou seest me not--in the darkness
I stand here below, apart;
Yet less, ah less thou seest
Into my gloomy heart!

My gloomy heart it loves thee,
Loves thee in every spot:
It breaks, it bleeds, it shudders--But
into it thou seest not!


Diamonds hast thou, and pearls,
And all by which men lay store;
And of eyes thou hast the fairest--
Darling, what wouldst thou more?

Upon thine eyes so lovely
Have I a whole army-corps
Of undying songs composed--
Dearest, what wouldst thou more?

And with thine eyes so lovely
Thou hast tortured me very sore,
And hast ruined me altogether--
Darling, what wouldst thou more?





[Footnote: I have here used rimes although the original has none. With
notions of translating severer now than when, many years ago, I attempted
this poem, I should not now take such a liberty. In a few other points
also the translation is not quite close enough to please me; but it must

High in heaven the sun was glowing,
White cloud-waves were round him flowing;
The sea was still and grey.
Thinking in dreams, by the helm I lay:
Half waking, half in slumber, then
Saw I Christ, the Saviour of men.
In undulating garments white
He walked in giant shape and height
Over land and sea.
High in the heaven up towered his head;
His hands in blessing forth he spread
Over land and sea.
And for a heart, in his breast
He bore the sun; there did it rest.
The red, flaming heart of the Lord
Out its gracious radiance poured,
Its fair and love-caressing light
With illuminating and warming might
Over land and sea.

Sounds of solemn bells that go
Through the air to and fro,
Drew, like swans in rosy traces,
With soft, solemn, stately graces,
The gliding ship to the green shore--
Peopled, for many a century hoar,
By men who dwell at rest in a mighty
Far-spreading and high-towered city.

Oh, wonder of peace, how still was the town!
The hollow tumult had all gone down
Of the babbling and stifling trades;
And through each clean and echoing street
Walked men and women, and youths and maids,
White clothes wearing,
Palm branches bearing;
And ever and always when two did meet,
They gazed with eyes that plain did tell
They understood each other well;
And trembling, in self-renouncement and love,
Each a kiss on the other's forehead laid,
And looked up to the Saviour's sunheart above,
Which, in joyful atoning, its red blood rayed
Down upon all; and the people said,
From hearts with threefold gladness blest,
Lauded be Jesus Christ!




The grave is deep and soundless,
Its brink is ghastly lone;
With veil all dark and boundless
It hides a land unknown.

The nightingale's sweet closes
Down there come not at all;
And friendship's withered roses
On the mossy hillock fall.

Their hands young brides forsaken
Wring bleeding there in vain;
The cries of orphans waken
No answer to their pain.

Yet nowhere else for mortals
Dwells their implored repose;
Through none but those dark portals
Home to his rest man goes.

The poor heart, here for ever
By storm on storm beat sore,
Its true peace gaineth never
But where it beats no more.


Psyche moans, in deep-sunk, darksome prison,
For redemption; ah! for light she aches;
Fears, hopes, after every noise doth listen--
Whether Fate her bars of iron breaks.

Bound are Psyche's pinions--airy, soaring;
Yet high-hearted is she, groaning low;
Knows that under clouds whence rain is pouring
Sprouts the palm that crowns the victor's brow;

Knows among the thorns the rose yet reigneth;
Golden flowers spring from the desert grave
She her garland through denial gaineth,
And her strength is steeled by winds that rave.

'Tis through lack that she her blisses buyeth;
Sorrow's dream comes true by longing long;
Lest light break the sleep wherein she lieth,
Round her tree of life the shadows throng.

Psyche's wail is but a fluted sadness
Heard from willows the moon silvereth;
Psyche's tears are dews of morning redness,
And her sighs the sweet night-violet's breath!

Yews o'ershade the myrtle of her probation;
Much she loves for great has been her dole;
Love leads through the paths of separation,
Leads her to reunion's joyous goal.

She endures; bravely bears every burden,
Dumb before the will of Fate bends low;
Lies her bliss the patient tranquil word in;
Her one cordial, feeling's overflow!

Preconviction--ah! the call, the token,
Spreading wings the darksome sky to cleave!
'Tis but boding! 'tis but knowledge broken!
Truth's but what she truly doth believe!

Darkness hides the goal of Psyche's mission;
For the eyes that tears so often gall
Reach not to the summit of completion
Where illusion's vaporous veil doth fall!




Sleep, baby boy, sleep sweet, secure;
Thy father's very miniature!
That art thou, though thy father goes
And says that thou hast not his nose.

This very moment here was he,
His face o'er thine did pose
And said--Much has he sure of me,
But no, 'tis not my nose.

I think myself, it is too small,
But it is _his_ nose after all;
For if thy nose his nose be not,
Whence came the nose that thou hast got?

Sleep, boy! thy father only chose
To tease me--that's his part!
Never you mind about his nose,
But see you have his heart.


I am content. In triumph's tone
My song, let people know!
And many a mighty man, with throne
And sceptre, is not so.
And if he is, why then, I cry,
The man is just the same as I.

The Mogul's gold, the Sultan's show,
The hero's bliss, who, vext
To find no other world below,
Up to the moon looked next--
I'd none of them; for things like that
Are only fit for laughing at.

My motto is--Content with this.
Gold--rank--I prize not such.
That which I have, my measure is;
Wise men desire not much.
Men wish and wish, and have their will,
And wish again, as hungry still.

And gold or honour, though it rings,
Is but a brittle glass;
Experience of changing things
Might teach a very ass!
Right often Many turns to None,
And honour has but a short run.

To do right, to be good and clear,
Is more than rank and gold;
Then art thou always of good cheer,
And blisses hast untold;
Then art thou with thyself at one,
And hatest no man, fearest none.

I am content. In triumph's tone,
My song, let people know!
And many a mighty man, with throne
And sceptre, is not so.
And if he is, why then, I cry,
The man is just the same as I.



You have two ears--and but one mouth:
Let this, friend, be a token--
Much should be heard, and not so much
Be spoken.

You have two eyes--and but one mouth:
That is an indication--
Much must you see, but little serves

You have two hands--and but one mouth:
Receive the hint you meet with--
For labour two, but only one
To eat with.



Son, first-born, at home abiding!
All without is cold and bare:
Hide me from the tempest's chiding
Warm beside the Father's chair.

I am homesick, Lord of splendour!
Twilight fills my soul with fright:
Let thy countenance befriend her,
Shining from the halls of light.

I am homesick, loving Father!
Long years hath the pain increased:
Soon, oh soon! thy children gather
To the endless marriage-feast.



I am so weary with the burden old
Of foregone faults, and power of custom base,
That much I fear to perish from the ways,
And fall into my enemy's grim fold.
True, a high friend, to free me, not with gold,
Came, of ineffable and utmost grace--
Then straightway vanished from before my face,
So that in vain I strive him to behold.
But his voice yet comes echoing below:
O ye that labour, the way open lies!
Come unto me lest some one shut the gate!
--What heavenly grace--what love will--or what fate--
The pinions of a dove on me bestow
That I may rest, and from the earth arise?


The elect angels and the souls in bliss,
The citizens of heaven, when, that first day,
My lady passed from me and went their way,
Of marvel and pity full, did round her press.
"What light is this, and what new loveliness?"
They said among them; "for such sweet display
Did never mount, that from the earth did stray
To this high dwelling, all this age, we guess!"[1]
She, well content her lodging chang'd to find,
Shows perfect, by her peers most perfect placed;
And now and then half turning looks behind
To see if I walk in the way she traced:
Hence I lift heavenward all my heart and mind
Because I hear her pray me to make haste.

[Footnote 1: Pure English of Petrarch's time.]


The Italian scholar will understand that the retention of the feminine
rimes in translation from this language is an impossibility.


O Lady fair, whose honoured name doth grace
Green vale and noble ford of Rheno's stream--
Of all worth void the man I surely deem
Whom thy fair soul enamoureth not apace,
When softly self-revealed to time and space
By actions sweet with which thy will doth teem,
And fair gifts that Love's bow and arrows seem--
But are the flowers that crown thy perfect race.
When thou dost lightsome talk or gladsome sing,--
A power to draw the hill-trees, rooted hard--
The doors of eyes and ears let that man keep
Who knows himself unworthy thy regard!
Grace from above alone him help can bring
That Passion in his heart strike not too deep.


As in the twilight brown, on hillside bare,
Useth to go the little shepherd maid,
Watering some strange fair plant, poorly displayed,
Ill thriving in unwonted soil and air
Far from its native springtime's genial care;
So on my ready tongue hath Love assayed
In a strange speech to wake new flower and blade,
While I of thee, proud yet so debonair,
Sing songs whose sense is to my people lost--
Yield the fair Thames, and the fair Arno gain.
Love willed it so, and I, at others' cost,
Already knew Love never willed in vain:
Would my heart slow and bosom hard were found
To him who plants from heaven so fair a ground!



Ladies, and youths that in their favour bask,
With mocking smiles come round me: Prithee, why,
Why dost thou with an unknown language cope,
Love-riming? Whence thy courage for the task?
Tell us--so never frustrate be thy hope,
And the best thought still to thy thinking fly!
Thus me they mock: Thee other streams, they cry,
Thee other shores, another sea demands
Upon whose verdant strands
Are budding, even this moment, for thy hair
Immortal guerdon, bays that will not die:
An over-burden on thy back why bear?--
Song, I will tell thee; thou for me reply:
My lady saith--and her word is my heart--
This is Love's mother-tongue, and fits his part.


Diodati--and I muse to tell the tale--
This stubborn I, that Love was wont despise
And make a laughter of his snares, unwise,
Am fallen--where honest feet will sometimes fail.
Not golden tresses, not a cheek vermeil,
Dazzle me thus; but, in a new-world guise,
A foreign Fair my heart beatifies--
With mien where high-souled modesty I hail;
Eyes softly splendent with a darkness dear;
A speech that more than one tongue vassal hath;
A voice that in the middle hemisphere
Might make the tired moon wander from her path;
While from her eyes such gracious flashes shoot
That stopping hard my ears were little boot.


Certes, my lady sweet, your blessed eyes--
It cannot be but that they are my sun;
As strong they smite me as he smites upon
The man whose way o'er Libyan desert lies,
The while a vapour hot doth me surprise
From that side springing where my pain doth won:
Perchance accustomed lovers--I am none
And know not--in their speech call such things sighs:
A part shut in, sore vexed, itself conceals,
And shakes my bosom; part, undisciplined,
Breaks forth, and all around to ice congeals;
But that which to mine eyes the way doth find,
Makes all my nights in silent showers abound,
Until my dawn[1] returns, with roses crowned.

[Footnote 1: _Alba_--where I suspect a hint at the lady's name.]


A modest youth, in love a simpleton,
When to escape myself I seek and shift,
Lady, I of my heart the humble gift
Vow unto thee. In trials many a one,
True, brave, I've found it, firm to things begun;
By gracious, prudent, worthy thoughts uplift.
When roars the great world, in the thunder-rift,
Its own self, armour adamant, it will don,
From chance and envy as securely barred,
From fears and hopes that still the crowd abuse,
As inward gifts and high worth coveting,
And the resounding lyre, and every Muse:
There only wilt thou find it not so hard
Where Love hath fixed his ever cureless sting.



Of all the joys earth possesses,
None the gladness fine surpasses
Which I give you with my singing,
And with much harmonious ringing.

An evil spirit cannot dwell
Where companions are singing well;
Here strife, wrath, envy, hate, are not;
Every heartache must leave the spot:
Greed, care, all things that hard oppress
Troop off with great unwillingness.

Also each man is free to this--
For such a joy no trespass is,
God himself pleasing better far
Than all the joys on earth that are;
It breaks the toils by Satan spun,
And many a murder keeps undone.

Of this, King David is the proof,
Who often Saul did hold aloof,
All with his harping sweet and well,
That he not into murder fell.

For God's own truth, in word and will
It makes the heart ready and still;
That knew Elisha well, I wot,
When he the Spirit by harping got.

The best time of the year is mine,
When all the little birds sing fine,
Fill heaven and earth full of their strain:
Much good singing is going then;
The nightingale the lead she takes,
And everything right merry makes
With her gladsome lovely song,
For which great thanks to her belong.

But more to our dear Lord God, much,
Who has created the bird such,
A songstress of the true right sort,
A mistress of the music-art:
She sings and springs, both nights and days,
To him, not weary of his praise.
Him lauding come my songs as well,
My everlasting thanks to tell.




















Come, saviour of nations wild,
Of the maiden owned the child
That may wonder all the earth
God should grant it such a birth.

Not of man's flesh or man's blood
Only of the Spirit of God
Is God's Word a man become,
And blooms the fruit of woman's womb.

Maiden, she was found with child,
Nor was chastity defiled;
Many a virtue from her shone:
God was there upon his throne.

From that chamber of content,
Royal palace pure, he went;
God by kind, in human grace
Forth he comes to run his race.

From the Father came his road,
And returns again to God;
Unto hell it did go down,
Up then to the Father's throne.

Thou, the Father's form express,
Get thee victory in the flesh,
That thy godlike power in us
Make sick flesh victorious.

Shines thy manger bright and fair;
Sets the night a new star there:
Darkness thence must keep away;
Faith dwells ever in the day.

Honour unto God be done;
Honour to his only son;
Honour to the Holy Ghost,
Now, and ever, ending not. Amen.



Jesus we now must laud and sing,
The maiden Mary's son and king,
Far as the blessed sun doth shine,
And reaches to earth's utmost line.[1]

[Footnote 1: Luther's own construction.]

The blessed maker of all we view
On him a servant's body drew,
The flesh to save at flesh's cost,
Else his creation had been lost.

From heaven high the Godlike grace
In the chaste mother found a place;
A secret pledge a maiden bore--
A thing to earth unknown before.

The tender heart, house modest, low,
Straightway a temple of God did grow:
Whom never man hath touched or known
By God's word she with child is grown.

The noble mother hath brought forth
Whom Gabriel promised to the earth;
Him John did greet in joyous way
While in his mother's womb he lay.

Right poorly lies in hay the boy;
Th' hard manger him did not annoy;
A little milk made him content
Away who no bird hungry sent.

Therefore the heavenly choir is loud;
The angels sing their praise to God,
And tell poor men their flocks who keep
He's come who made and keeps their sheep.

Praise, honour, thanks, to thee be said,
Christ Jesus, born of holy maid!
With God the Father and Holy Ghost,
Now and for ever, ending not. Amen!


A Song of Praise for the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Praised be thou, O Jesus Christ,
That a man on earth thou liest!
Born of a maiden--it is true--
In this exults the heavenly crew.
[Footnote 2: (Greek) kurie elxaeson: _Lord, have mercy_.]

The Father's only son begot
In the manger has his cot,
In our poor dying flesh and blood
Doth mask itself the eternal Good.

Whom all the world could not enwrap
Lieth he in Mary's lap;
A little child he now is grown
Who everything upholds alone.

In him the eternal light breaks through,
Gives the world a glory new;
A great light shines amid the night,
And makes us children of the light.

The Father's son, so _God_ his name,
A guest into this world he came;
And leads us from the vale of tears:
He in his palace make us heirs.

Poor to the earth he cometh thus,
Pity so to take on us;
And makes us rich in heaven above,
And like the angels of his love.

All this for us hath Jesus done,
And his great love to us hath shown:
Let Christendom rejoice therefore,
And give him thanks for evermore!



From heaven high I come to you,
I bring a story good and new:
Of goodly news so much I bring,
Of it I must both speak and sing.

To you a child is come this morn,
A child of chosen maiden born,
A little babe so sweet and mild
Your joy and bliss shall be that child.

'Tis the Lord Christ, our very God.
He will you ease of all your load;
He'll be himself your Saviour sure
And from all sinning make you pure.

He brings you all the news so glad
Which God the Father ready had--
That you shall in his heavenly house
Live now and evermore with us.

Take heed then to the token sure--
The crib, the swaddling clothes so poor:
The infant you shall find laid there
Who all the world doth hold and bear.

Hence let us all be gladsome then,
And with the shepherd-folk go in
To see what God to us hath given
With his dear honoured Son from heaven.

Take note, my heart; see there! look low:
What lies then in the manger so?
Whose is the lovely little child?
It is the darling Jesus-child.

Hail, noble guest in humble guise,
Poor sinners who didst not despise,
And com'st to me in misery!
My thoughts must all be thanks to thee!

Ah Lord! the maker of us all!
How hast thou grown so poor and small
That there thou liest on withered grass,
The supper of the ox and ass!

Were the world wider many fold,
And decked with gems and cloth of gold,
'T were far too mean and narrow all
To be for thee a cradle small!

The silk and velvet that are thine
Are rough hay, linen not too fine;
Thereon thou, king so rich and great,
Liest as if in heavenly state.

And this hath therefore pleased thee,
To make this truth right plain to me,
That all the world's power, honour, wealth
Are nothing to thy heart or health.

Ah, little Christ! my heart's poor shed
Would make thee a soft, little bed:
Rest there as in a lowly shrine,
And make that heart for ever thine,

That so I always gladsome be,
Ready to dance, and sing to thee
The lullaby thou lovest best,
With sweetest hymn for dearest guest.

Glory to God on highest throne
Who gave to us his only Own!
For this the angel troop sings in
A New Year with gladsome din.



From heaven the angel-troop come near
And to the shepherds plain appear:
A tender little child, they cry,
In a rough manger lies hard by,

In Bethlehem, David's town of old,
As Prophet Micah has foretold;
'Tis the Lord Jesus Christ, I wis,
Who of you all the saviour is.

And ye may well break out in mirth
That God is one with you henceforth;
For he is born your flesh and blood--
Your brother is the eternal Good.

He will nor can from you go hence;
Put you in him your confidence.
However many you assail,
Defy them--He can never fail!

What can death do to you, or sin?
The true God is to you come in.
Let hell and Satan raging go--
The Son of God's your comrade now!

At last you must approval win,
For you are now become God's kin:
For this go thanking God alway,
Happy and patient every day. Amen.


Herod, why dreadest thou a foe
Because the Christ comes born below?
He seeks no mortal kingdom thus,
But brings his kingdom down to us.

After the star the wise men go:
That light the true light them did show;
They signify with presents three
This child--God, Man, and King to be.

In Jordan baptism he did take,
This Lamb of God, for our poor sake;
Thus he who never did a sin
Hath washed us clean both out and in.

A miracle straightway befell:
Six pots of stone--they saw, who tell--
Of water full, which, changing, heard
And turned to red wine at his word.

Praise, honour, thanks to thee be said,
Jesus, born of the holy maid!
With the Father and the Holy Ghost,
Now, and henceforward, evermore. Amen.



Death held our Lord in prison
For sin that did undo us;
But he hath up arisen
And brought our life back to us.
Therefore must we gladsome be,
Praise our God, and thankful be,
And sing out halleluja! Halleluja!

No man yet Death overcame--
All sons of men were helpless;
Sin for this was all to blame,
For no one yet was guiltless.
So Death came that early hour,
Over us took up the power,
Us held in's kingdom captive. Halleluja!

Jesus Christ, God's only Son,
Into our place descending,
Away with all our sins hath done,
And therewith from Death rending
Right and might, made him a jape,
Left him nothing but Death's shape:
His ancient sting--he has lost it: Halleluja!

That was a right wondrous strife
When Death in Life's grip wallowed:
Off victorious came Life,
Death he hath upswallowed.
Scripture itself has told us that--
How one Death the other ate:[3]
Now is Death become a laughter. Halleluja!

[Footnote 3: Certain eastern tales of rival enchanters seem to have been
present to Luther's mind when he thought of our Lord as the Death of Evil
devouring the Death of Good. I have translated very closely.]

Here is the true Easter-lamb,
That God said must be shared,
Which up on the cross's stem
In Love's fire is prepared.
His blood on our door-post lies;
Faith holds that before Death's eyes:
The destroyer dares not touch us: Halleluja!

So we keep high feast of grace!
Hearty the joy and glee is
That shines on us from his face:
The sun himself, ah! he is,
Who, by his brightness divine,
Through and through makes our hearts shine:
The night of our sins is over. Halleluja!

We eat--and well so we fare--
True Easter cakes sans leaven;
For th' old leaven shall not share
In the new word from heaven.
Christ himself will be the food,
He alone fill us with good:
Faith will live on nothing other. Halleluja!


Jesus Christ, our Saviour true
He who Death overthrew,
Is up arisen,
And sin hath put in prison.

Born whom Mary sinless hath,
Bore he for us God's wrath,
Hath reconciled us:
Favour God doth now yield us.

Death and sin, and life and grace,
All to his hands we trace:
He can deliver
All who seek the life-giver.



Come, God, Creator, Holy Ghost,
Visit the heart of all thy men;
Fill them with grace the way thou know'st:
What was thine, make so again;

Our Comforter to soothe or chide;
The blessed gift of highest God!
A ghostly chrism to us applied,
Live streams--fire--love spread abroad!

O kindle in our minds a light;
Give in our hearts love's glowing gift;
Our weak flesh, known to thee aright,
With thy strength and grace uplift.

In giving gifts thou art sevenfold--
The finger thou on God's right hand!
His word by thee right soon is told
With clov'n tongues in every land.

Drive far the cunning of the foe;
Thy grace bring peace and make us whole,
That we glad after thee may go,
And shun that which hurts the soul.

Teach us to know the Father right,
And Jesus Christ, his son, that so
We may with faith be filled quite,
Spirit of both, thee to know!

Praise God the Father, and the Son
Who from the dead arose in power;
Like praise to the Consoling One,
Evermore and every hour! Amen.


Come, Holy Spirit, Lord and God,
Fill full with thine own gracious good
Thy faithful ones' heart, mind, desire!
Light in them of thy love the fire.
O Lord, through thy light, flashing fast,
Into the faith thou gathered hast
People of all tongues under heaven:
That to thy glory, Lord, be given!
Halleluja! Halleluja!

Thou holy light, retreat from strife,
Cause shine on us the word of life,
That we the truth of God gather,
Call him heartily our Father.
O Lord, protect us from strange lore,
That we for teachers seek no more,
But with true faith Jesus solely,
And him with all our might trust wholly:
Halleluja! Halleluja!

Thou holy fire, thou comfort sweet,
Now help us; with good cheer us meet;
That in thy service nought shake us,
Trouble never leave thee make us.
O Lord, by thy might us prepare,
And make the weak flesh strong to bear,
That we strive[4] like knights campaigning,
Through death and life to thee straining:
Halleluja! Halleluja!

[Footnote 4: The Scotch _warsle_ would be perfect.]



Now let us pray the Holy Ghost,
Of all things, for the true faith most,
In that to preserve us when we are dying,
And going home out of this vale of crying:

Thou noble light, shine as thou hast shone;
Teach us to know Jesus Christ alone,
That we the true Saviour hold by the hand
Who us has brought to the real fatherland:

Thou sweet Love, grant us thy favour, that so
We feel of thy love the inward glow,
That we from our hearts may love each the other,
Dwelling in peace, of one mind together:

Comfort highest, in danger or blame
Help us to fear neither death nor shame;
Nor let weak senses with fears confuse us
When the enemy comes to accuse us:



God, the Father, with us be,
Let us not fall to badness;
Make us from all sinning free,
And help us die in gladness.
'Gainst the devil well us ware,
And keep our faith from failing,
Our hope in thee from quailing.
Our hearts upon thee staying,
Make us wholly trust thy care!
Us, with good Christians sharing,
Save from the devil snaring,
Him with God's weapons daring.
Amen! well now may we fare!
Now sing we Halleluja!

Jesus, Master, with us be,
Let us not fall to badness; &c.

Holy Spirit, with us be,
Let us not fall to badness; &c.


Thou who art three in unity,
A true God from eternity,
The sun's daylight withdraws his shine:
Lighten us with thy light divine.

At morn we praise thee with the day,
At evening, too, to thee we pray;
Our poor song glorifieth thee
Now, ever, and eternally.

God, Father, always be adored!
God, Son, thou art our only Lord!
Thee Comforter, the Holy Ghost,
We praise now and for evermore! Amen.




Ah God, from heaven look down and view;
Let it thy pity waken;
Behold thy saints how very few!
We wretches are forsaken.
Thy word they grant nor true nor right,
And faith is thus extinguished quite
Among the sons of Adam.

They teach a cunning false and fine--
In their own wits they found it;
Their heart in one doth not combine,
Nor on God's word they ground it;
One chooses this, the other that;
Endless division they are at,
And yet they keep smooth faces.

God will outroot the teachers all
Who with false shows present us;
Besides, their proud tongues loudly call--
Tush! tush!--who can prevent us?
We have the right and might in full;
And what we say, that is the rule;
Who dares to give us lessons!

Therefore saith God: I must be up;
My poor ones ill are faring;
Their sighs crowd up to Zion's top.
My ear their cry is hearing.
My wholesome word shall speedily
With comfort fill them, fresh and free,
And strength be to the needy.

Silver that seven times is tried
With fire, is found the purer;
God's word the same test must abide--
It still comes out the surer.
It shall by crosses proved be;
Men shall its power and glory see
Shine strong upon the nations.

God will its purity defend
From this ill generation.
Let us ourselves to thee commend
Lest we fall from our station;
The godless rout is all around
Where these rude wanton ones are found
Against thy folk exalted.



Although the fools say with their mouth:
Great God, we magnify him;
Their heart cares nothing for the truth,
In action they deny him.
Their being is corrupted quite;
To God it is a horrid sight;
Not one of them works goodness.

From heaven God downward cast his eye
Upon men's sons so many;
He set himself to look and spy
If he could find out any
Who their own reason up had stirred
Earnestly to obey God's word,
After his will enquiring.

Upon the right path there was none;
From it they all were straying;
Each followed fancies of his own,
Them to ill deeds bewraying.
Not one of them did good even once,
Though many, fooled by arrogance,
Thought God with them well pleased.

How long by lies will they be led
Who vain attempts redouble!
They eat my people up as bread,
And live upon their trouble!
In God stands not their confidence;
From ill they ask not his defence:
They would themselves look after.

Therefore their heart is never still
But always full of fearing.
Dwell with the good the Father will,
Those who have ears for hearing.
But ye despise the poor man's ways,
And scorn at everything he says
Concerning God his comfort.

Who will to Israel, poor flock--
To Zion send salvation?
God will take pity on his folk,
And free his captive nation;
That will he do through Christ his Son--
And then is Jacob's weeping done,
And Isr'el filled with gladness. Amen.



Our God he is a castle strong,
A good mail-coat and weapon;
He sets us free from every wrong
That wickedness would heap on.
The ancient wicked foe
He means earnest now;
Force and cunning sly
His horrid policy,--
On earth there's no one like him!

Our strength is vain; do what we can
Our hopes are soon dejected;
But He fights for us, the right man,
By God himself elected.
Ask'st thou who is this?
Jesus Christ it is;
He is the Lord of Hosts
In whom his people boasts;
And he must win the battle.

And did the world with devils swarm
All gaping to devour us,
We fear not from them the least harm;
Success lies sure before us.
This world's prince accurst,
Let him rage his worst,
Only roars about;
His doom it is gone out,
A word can overthrow him.

The Word they'll have to let it bide,
Nor there claim any merit;
He is with us, and on our side
With his own gifts and spirit!
Let them take our life,
Goods, name, child, and wife--
Everything may go:
To them it is no gain;
The kingdom ours remaineth.



Were God not with us all the time--
Israel may loud declare it--
Were God not with us all the time,
We must have now despaired;
For we are such a little flock
Despised by such a crowd of folk,
Who all do set upon us!

'Gainst us so angry is their mood,
If God had given them tether
Us they had swallowed where we stood,
Body and soul together.
We should have been drowned all, like those
O'er whom the waters great did close,
And swept them off relentless.

Thank God! their throat who did not let
Us swallow when it gaped;
As from a snare a bird doth flit
So is our soul escaped.
The snare's in two, and we are through:
The name of God it standeth true,
The God of earth and heaven. Amen.



Lord, keep us by thy word in hope,
And check the murder of Turk and Pope,
Who Jesus Christ, thine only Son,
Would fain from off thy throne cast down.

Proof of thy strength, Lord Christ, afford,
For thou of all the lords art Lord;
Thy own poor Christendom defend,
That it may praise thee without end.

God Holy Ghost, who Comfort art,
Give to thy folk on earth one heart;
Stand by us breathing our last breath;
Into life lead us out of death.



Her, the worthy maid, my heart doth hold,
And I shall not forget her.
Praise, honour, virtue of her are told;
Than all I love her better.
I seek her good,
And if I should
Right evil fare,
I do not care:
With that she'll make me merry!
With love and truth that never tire
Glad she will make me very,
And do all my desire.

She wears a crown of pure gold, where
Twelve stars their rays are twining;
Her raiment like the sun is fair,
And bright from far is shining.
Her feet the moon
Are set upon;
She is the bride
By Jesus' side!
She hath sorrow, must be mother
To her fair child, the noble Son,
Of all men lord and brother,
Her king, her crowned one.

That makes the old dragon ramp and roar;
The child he tries to swallow;
His rage is rage and nothing more!
No hurt that rage will follow.
The child up high
Into the sky
Away is heft,
And he is left
On earth, all mad with murder.
The mother all alone is she,
But God will watch and ward her,
And her true Father be.



A new song here shall be begun--
The Lord God help our singing!--
Of what our God himself hath done,
Praise, honour to him bringing:
At Brussels in the Netherlands,
By two young boys, He gracious
Displays the wonders of his hands,
Giving them gifts right precious,
And richly them adorning.

The first right fitly John was named,
So rich he in God's favour;
His brother, Henry--one unblamed,
Whose salt had lost no savour.
From this world they are gone away,
The diadem they've gained!
Honest, like God's good children, they
For his word life disdained,
And have become his martyrs.

The ancient foe on them laid hold,
With terrors did enwrap them;
To lie against God's word them told,
With cunning would entrap them:
From Louvaine too, to see the game
And in his crust nets take them,
Many a sophist gathered came:
The Spirit fools did make them--
Their cunning could gain nothing.

Oh! they sung sweet, and they sung sour;
Oh! they tried every double;
The boys they stood firm as a tower,
And mocked the sophists' trouble.
The serpent old it filled with hate
To be thuswise defeated
By two such youngsters--he, so great!--
His wrath sevenfold was heated,
And he resolved to burn them.

Their cloister-garments off they tore,
Undid their consecrations;
All this the boys were ready for,
And said Amen with patience.
To God their Father they gave thanks
That they would soon be rescued
From Satan's scoffs and mumming pranks,
Whereby with false pretences
The world he so befooleth.

Then gracious God did grant to them
To pass true priesthood's border,
And offer up themselves to him,
Thus entering Christ's own order;
So to the world to die outright,
With falsehood make a schism;
And coming to heaven pure and white
Give monkery the besom,
And leave behind men's prattle.

They wrote for them a paper small:
At their request they read it;
They showed them every point there, all
To which themselves gave credit.
There was an error great indeed!
In God we should trust solely:
To cheat and lie, man maketh speed;
We should distrust him wholly:
For that they burn to ashes.

Two awful fires they kindled then,
The boys they carried to them;
Great wonder seizes every man
That with contempt they view them.
With joy themselves they yielded quite,
With singing and God-praising:
The sophists had small appetite
For these new things so dazing
Which God was thus revealing.

They now repent the deed of blame,
Would gladly gloze it over;
They dare not glory in their shame;
The facts almost they cover.
In their hearts gnaweth infamy--
They to their friends deplore it:
The Spirit cannot silent be;
Good Abel's blood out-poured
Must still old Cain discover!

To spread, their ashes will not cease;
Into all lands they scatter;
Stream, hole, ditch, grave will them release;
All winds shall tell the matter.
Them whom from life their murderous hand
Drove down to silence triple,
They hear them now in every land,
In tongues of every people,
Go about gladly singing.

Still their foul lies they will not leave,
But trim and dress the murther;
The fable false which out they give
Shows conscience grinds them further.
God's holy ones, even after death,
They still go on belying;
They say that with their latest breath
The boys, in act of dying,
Repented and recanted!

Let them lie on for evermore--
Nothing by that they're gaining;
For us, we thank our God therefore:
His word is yet remaining!
Even at the door is summer nigh,
The winter hard is ended,
The tender flowers come out to spy:
His hand when once extended
Stays not till it has finished. Amen.




Would that the Lord would grant us grace,
And in his volume write us!
With its clear shining let his face
To life eternal light us;
That we may know his work at length,
And what men him have faith in;
And Jesus Christ our health and strength
Be known to all the heathen,
And unto God convert them.

God then will thank, and thee will praise
The heathen with glad voices;
Let all the world for joy upraise
A song with mighty noises,
Because thou art earth's judge, O Lord,
Nor leav'st the righteous quailing;
Thy word it is both bed and board,
And for all folk availing
In the right path to keep them.

Let them thank God, and thee adore,
Thy folk of deeds of grace full.
The land grows fruitful more and more;
Thy word it is successful.
Bless us the Father and the Son,
And bless us, God, the Holy Ghost,
To whom by all be honour done!
Before him fear the human host!
Now heartily say Amen.



Happy who in God's fear doth stay,
And in it goeth on his way;


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