Sunday 31 July 2011

Some Pictures of Oxford

Specifically, of Magdalen College.

This is Addison's Walk, where Lewis and Tolkien walked together.

Magdalen herself.

Saturday 30 July 2011

When life was sweet because you call'd them sweet

Lo dì che han detto a' dolci amici addio. - Dante
Amor, con quanto sforzo oggi mi vinci! - Petrarca

Come back to me, who wait and watch for you:--
Or come not yet, for it is over then,
And long it is before you come again,
So far between my pleasures are and few.
While, when you come not, what I do I do
Thinking "Now when he comes," my sweetest "when":
For one man is my world of all the men
This wide world holds; O love, my world is you.
Howbeit, to meet you grows almost a pang
Because the pang of parting comes so soon;
My hope hangs waning, waxing, like a moon
Between the heavenly days on which we meet:
Ah me, but where are now the songs I sang
When life was sweet because you call'd them sweet?

Ironically, the person whose absence is, as you may have guessed, prompting this thinly-disguised rash of posts about lost love and hopeless parting never, in fact, called my songs sweet, but quite the opposite, on several occasions; and vice versa, too. But this is a nice poem all the same.

Thursday 28 July 2011

That thus so cleanly I myself can free

I went on holiday, and came back again, and this poem was stuck in my head all the time.

Sonnet LXI, by Michael Drayton

Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part,
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have giv'n him over,
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.

Thursday 21 July 2011

And you companion'd, I am not alone.

Amor, che ne la mente mi ragiona. - Dante
Amor vien nel bel viso di costei. - Petrarca

If there be any one can take my place
And make you happy whom I grieve to grieve,
Think not that I can grudge it, but believe
I do commend you to that nobler grace,
That readier wit than mine, that sweeter face;
Yea, since your riches make me rich, conceive
I too am crown'd, while bridal crowns I weave,
And thread the bridal dance with jocund pace.
For if I did not love you, it might be
That I should grudge you some one dear delight;
But since the heart is yours that was mine own,
Your pleasure is my pleasure, right my right,
Your honourable freedom makes me free,
And you companion'd I am not alone.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Quomodo se habet homo?

Quomodo se habet homo?
How should man be considered?

Also þe lanterne in þe wynd þat sone is aqueynt,
Ase sparkle in þe se þat sone is adreynt,
Ase vom in þe strem þat sone is tothwith,
Ase smoke in þe lift þat passet oure sith.

As the lantern in the wind that soon is quenched,
As the spark in the sea that soon is drenched,
As foam in the stream that soon leaves the light,
As smoke in the air that fades from our sight.

William Herebert

(Apologies: 'sone is tothwith' means 'soon is gone'; nothing to do with light. I just couldn't resist the rhyme.)

Tuesday 19 July 2011


The Collect for this week, the fourth after Trinity, is one of my favourites:

O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord. Amen.

Monday 18 July 2011

I feel your honour'd excellence, and see / myself unworthy of the happier call

So I guess I'm just going to end up posting every single poem from Monna Innominata, one by one and in random order.

O dignitosa coscienza e netta! - Dante
Spirto più acceso di virtuti ardenti. - Petrarca

Thinking of you, and all that was, and all
That might have been and now can never be,
I feel your honour'd excellence, and see
Myself unworthy of the happier call:
For woe is me who walk so apt to fall,
So apt to shrink afraid, so apt to flee,
Apt to lie down and die (ah, woe is me!)
Faithless and hopeless turning to the wall.
And yet not hopeless quite nor faithless quite,
Because not loveless; love may toil all night,
But take at morning; wrestle till the break
Of day, but then wield power with God and man:--
So take I heart of grace as best I can,
Ready to spend and be spent for your sake.

Sunday 17 July 2011

The Lord into His Garden Comes

It's Isaac Watts' birthday today (he's 337 years old) and so here's a hymn by him.

We are a garden walled around

We are a garden walled around,
Chosen and made peculiar ground;
A little spot enclosed by grace
Out of the world’s wide wilderness.

Like trees of myrrh and spice we stand,
Planted by God the Father’s hand;
And all His springs in Zion flow,
To make the young plantation grow.

Awake, O, heav’nly wind! and come,
Blow on this garden of perfume;
Spirit divine! descend and breathe
A gracious gale on plants beneath.

Make our best spices flow abroad,
To entertain our Savior God
And faith, and love, and joy appear,
And every grace be active here.

Let my Belovèd come and taste
His pleasant fruits at His own feast:
“I come, My spouse, I come!” He cries,
With love and pleasure in His eyes.

Our Lord into His garden comes,
Well pleased to smell our poor perfumes,
And calls us to a feast divine,
Sweeter than honey, milk, or wine.

“Eat of the tree of life, My friends,
The blessings that My Father sends;
Your taste shall all My dainties prove,
And drink abundance of My love.”

Jesus, we will frequent Thy board,
And sing the bounties of our Lord;
But the rich food on which we live
Demands more praise than tongues can give.


The Lord into his garden comes,
The spices yield their rich perfumes,
The lilies grow and thrive;
Refreshing showers of grace divine,
From Jesus flow to every vine,
And make the dead revive.

This makes the dry and barren ground,
In springs of water to abound,
And fruitful soil become;
The desert blossoms like the rose,
When Jesus conquers all his foes,
And make his people one.

Come, brethren, you that love the Lord,
Who taste the sweetness of his word,
In Jesus' ways go on;
Our troubles and our trials here,
Will only make us richer there,
When we arrive at home.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Some Austen Philosophy

From Pride and Prejudice, ch. 24. I wish I could be as wise as Jane!

Miss Bingley's letter arrived, and put an end to doubt. The very first sentence conveyed the assurance of their being all settled in London for the winter, and concluded with her brother's regret at not having had time to pay his respects to his friends in Hertfordshire before he left the country.

Hope was over, entirely over; and when Jane could attend to the rest of the letter, she found little, except the professed affection of the writer, that could give her any comfort...

A day or two passed before Jane had courage to speak of her feelings to Elizabeth; but at last on Mrs. Bennet's leaving them together, after a longer irritation than usual about Netherfield and its master, she could not help saying,

"Oh! that my dear mother had more command over herself; she can have no idea of the pain she gives me by her continual reflections on him. But I will not repine. It cannot last long. He will be forgot, and we shall all be as we were before.''

Elizabeth looked at her sister with incredulous solicitude, but said nothing.

"You doubt me,'' cried Jane, slightly colouring; "indeed you have no reason. He may live in my memory as the most amiable man of my acquaintance, but that is all. I have nothing either to hope or fear, and nothing to reproach him with. Thank God! I have not that pain. A little time therefore. -- I shall certainly try to get the better.''

With a stronger voice she soon added, "I have this comfort immediately, that it has not been more than an error of fancy on my side, and that it has done no harm to any one but myself.''

"My dear Jane!'' exclaimed Elizabeth, "you are too good. Your sweetness and disinterestedness are really angelic; I do not know what to say to you. I feel as if I had never done you justice, or loved you as you deserve.''

Miss Bennet eagerly disclaimed all extraordinary merit, and threw back the praise on her sister's warm affection.

"Nay,'' said Elizabeth, "this is not fair. You wish to think all the world respectable, and are hurt if I speak ill of any body. I only want to think you perfect, and you set yourself against it. Do not be afraid of my running into any excess, of my encroaching on your privilege of universal good will. You need not. There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense."


"I cannot misunderstand you, but I intreat you, dear Lizzy, not to pain me by thinking that person to blame, and saying your opinion of him is sunk. We must not be so ready to fancy ourselves intentionally injured. We must not expect a lively young man to be always so guarded and circumspect. It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Women fancy admiration means more than it does.''

"And men take care that they should.''

"If it is designedly done, they cannot be justified; but I have no idea of there being so much design in the world as some persons imagine.''

Friday 15 July 2011

The Saint who Married a Viking


The saint in question, who is commemorated today, is Eadgyth (Edith) of Polesworth*, the sister of King Athelstan. When Athelstan came to the throne (c.925), the Anglo-Saxon kings of England ruled only as far north as the Humber: northern England was under the control of the Norse kings of Dublin, who had their capital at York. In 925 the Norse king was Sigtrygg, and Athelstan, in a bit of early-in-reign-alliance-establishing policy, arranged a marriage between his sister Edith and Sigtrygg. As part of this alliance, the pagan Sigtrygg agreed to accept Christianity and the overlordship of Athelstan, both in one go (this was how the descendants of Alfred did their best evangelising).

That was in 926. But the marriage was apparently not a success. This is how the chronicler Roger of Wendover tells it:

"Athelstan, king of the English, honourably married his sister Eathgitha to Sihtric, king of the Northumbrians, a man of Danish origin; who for love of the damsel renounced paganism and embraced the faith of Christ; but not long afterwards he repudiated the blessed virgin, and, abjuring Christianity, restored the worship of idols, and miserably ended his life shortly after his apostasy. The holy damsel thereupon, having preserved her virginity, abode at Pollesbury [Polesworth, Warwickshire], perserving in good works unto the end of her life, devoting herself to fasting and watching, alms-giving and prayer; and after a praiseworthy course of life she departed out of this world on the 15th of July at the same place, where unto this day [c.1230s] divine miracles cease not to be wrought."

(Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarum, trans. Henry Bohn, p.245)

Sigtrygg indeed died in 927; whatever Edith's marriage to this pagan Viking might have been like, it was at least short. On his death Athelstan swooped and seized Northumbria, thus becoming the first ruler of (almost) all of England.

Edith, if Roger's late account is to be trusted, went off and became a nun, and later saint. But she may just possibly have been the mother of Sigtrygg's son Óláfr (Roger's assertion that she "preserved her virginity" may just be a commonplace of hagiography; Anglo-Saxon royal saints from Ethelthyrth to Edward the Confessor were credited with celibate marriages). This Óláfr, who later also became king of Northumbria and Dublin, was probably the original for the Anglo-Danish legendary hero Havelok (at least for his name - they share the unusual nickname cuaran, 'sandal.'). As previously discussed, I like Havelok a lot. It seems rather appropriate that he may have been based on the product of a union between an English Christian princess and a Norse king who claimed descent from one of the scariest Vikings of all.

* that's not St Eadgyth of Wilton, the 'mighty queen' of Goscelin and Eva, and not Edward the Confessor's wife Eadgyth. Edith was a really common Anglo-Saxon royal female name. Luckily, it is also one of the few Anglo-Saxon female names to be at all euphonious, thus providing those of us who dream of giving our daughters Anglo-Saxon names with at least one decent option. (Much as I like St Hilda, St Mildred, and Bertha of Canterbury... no.)

Thursday 14 July 2011

I wish I could remember that first day

Christina Rossetti, from Monna Innominata. "Did one but know", indeed!

Era già l'ora che volge il desio. - Dante
Ricorro al tempo ch' io vi vidi prima. - Petrarca

I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seem'd to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand - Did one but know!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

St Mildred of Thanet, "The Fairest Lily of the English"

13 July is the feast of St Mildred, Anglo-Saxon abbess and patron of the island of Thanet in Kent, where I was born. She was also the dedicatee of my first school and (oddly, for such an obscure saint) of one of my Oxford colleges, so I have to declare a personal interest in her. A daughter of the Kentish royal house, she lived around the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth century, some 100 years after St Augustine brought Christianity to the coast of east Kent.

Mildred was the great-great-granddaughter of Ethelbert, the king of Kent whom Augustine encountered when he landed in England, and his wife Bertha. Ethelbert's great-granddaughter Domne Eafe founded an abbey in 670 near the site of Augustine's landing in Thanet, at the place now called Minster (after its monastery). I've posted more on the wonderful origin-legend of the abbey, deer and blasphemers and royal murderers and all, here. In the Anglo-Saxon period Thanet was an island, separated from the mainland by the Wantsum Channel (since silted up), which was marked at either end by the monumental ruins of Roman forts at Reculver and Richborough. It was already an ancient landscape by St Mildred's time, and ancient landscapes attract legends and associations with holy people; the story of Augustine's landing (as told by Bede) gave Thanet a key role in the foundation-narrative of the Anglo-Saxon church, 'the church of the English', and the legends of Domne Eafe and Mildred perpetuated the sanctity of this holy island.

Before entering religious life at Minster Domne Eafe had been married to the king of Mercia, and had three children with him, including Mildred. Mildred was educated in France, supposedly became a nun to escape an unwanted marriage, and eventually became abbess of Minster after her mother. The surviving hagiographical sources for her life are late ones (from the eleventh century onwards), but they say that she was known for her holiness, wisdom and generosity to the poor, and after her death in c.733 she was soon regarded as a saint; her successor as abbess, St Eadburh, built a church at Minster to enshrine her relics and support her growing community.

(What's that? You want to hear it in Old English? Of course you do. Everything's better in Old English:

[Domne Eafe] hyre leofe bearn georne lærde, and to Gode tihte. Wæs hit hyre eac eaðdæde, swa lange swa hyre ingehyd wæs eal mid Godes gaste afylled. Næs heo swa nu æðelborene men synt, mid ofermettum afylled, ne mid woruldprydum, ne mid nyðum, ne mid æfeste, ne mid teonwordum; næs heo sacful, ne geflitgeorn; næs heo swicol nanum þæra þe hyre to ðohte. Heo wæs wuduwena and steopcilda arigend, and ealra earmra and geswincendra frefiend, and on eallum þingum eaðmod and stille.
M. J. Swanton, 'A Fragmentary Life of St. Mildred and Other Kentish Royal Saints', Archæologia Cantiana xci (1975), 15-27 (26).

[Domne Eafe] gladly taught her dear child and led her to God. And that was an easy thing for her to do, because her mind was entirely filled with the spirit of God. She was not, as nobly-born people are now, filled with arrogance, or with worldly pride, or with malice, or with envy, or with angry words; she was not quarrelsome or quick to argue; she was not false to those who looked to her. She was a protector of widows and orphans, and comforter of all the poor and afflicted, and in all things she was humble and gentle.
The very last word here, stille, is an interesting word to describe her - it's not commonly used for people, I think. It's almost synonymous with mild, the first element of Mildred's name, but with an added suggestion of quietness or stillness. 'Mild' today has unfortunate overtones of weakness, perhaps of excessive softness, but the Old English word doesn't - it's a thoroughly regal word, its sense something like 'gentle, kindly, moderate' and (when applied to rulers or to God) 'merciful, gracious'. Mildred's full name (Mildþryð) means 'gentle strength' - as Etheldreda, Æþelðryþ, means 'noble strength' - and it's not supposed to be an oxymoron.

Mildred is Thanet's only saint, and she seems to have been genuinely popular in the area; even operating in the same general sphere as the much more glorious St Augustine, she managed to outshine him. For instance, legend said when she returned to Thanet from France to join her mother's nunnery, she landed at Ebbsfleet (the same place Augustine had landed - that's the ancient Ebbsfleet and not the modern one) and left the print of her foot permanently in the rock where she disembarked. That rock was considered a relic and kept in its own chapel, where miracles of healing took place.

The cliffs of Thanet from Pegwell Bay, where Mildred would have landed

In later centuries Minster, so near to the coast, was especially vulnerable to Viking raids. The nuns may have joined for a time with the community at Lyminge, and by the tenth century the abbey in Thanet had apparently been abandoned. The nuns may have removed to Canterbury: an abbess Leofrun who was perhaps of that community was captured during the Viking siege of the city in 1011, along with Archbishop Alphege, who was later to be martyred. We don't know what happened to the abbess. The church in Canterbury now dedicated to St Mildred may be due to the nuns' presence in the city then. It's the only pre-Conquest church surviving within the city walls (St Martin's is much older - it predates Mildred herself - but is outside the walls), and it looks like this:

It's not open very often, but I managed to sneak in last Easter while they were doing some building work, and found this window of Mildred, depicted as a mature abbess rather than a young princess:

And in medieval glass:

Mildred's abbey at Minster was refounded on the same site in 1937 by a community of nuns leaving Nazi Germany, and it's still going strong, in one of the oldest inhabited buildings in England. To have survived both Vikings and Nazis demonstrates 'gentle strength' of an extraordinary kind.

This picture and the one at the very top are of the parish church at Minster; for images of Minster Abbey, see their website or this post.

Mildred's relics were taken from Minster to St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury in the 1030s by grant of King Cnut, that great patron of monasteries, and she was held in high esteem there. In the 1090s accounts of Mildred's life and translation were written by the hagiographer and monk Goscelin (it's he who calls Mildred "the fairest lily of the English"). After his wanderings around England, Goscelin eventually found a permanent home at St Augustine's, and wrote about several of its saints. He fiercely defended St Augustine's claim to possess Mildred's relics against a challenge from the new Norman foundation of St Gregory's, and his passionate espousal of this cause indicates something of the relics' value for his community. St Gregory's asserted it had acquired the relics of Mildred and Eadburh from Lyminge, but Goscelin pours scorn on their attempts to substantiate their claim, with all the disdain of a professional watching amateurs blunder around in his area of expertise; he is particularly entertaining on the subject of their muddled genealogies of the royal family of Kent (and as someone who has both tried to get her head around these genealogies and tried to untangle other people's mistakes about them, I sympathise with both St Gregory's and Goscelin here...)

Goscelin also attributes some interesting miracle-stories to St Mildred, including one which says that in c.1043, just after Edward the Confessor came to the throne, Mildred defended and protected Edward's mother Queen Emma when the king stripped her of her wealth - in retribution (this story claims) for her support of a Norwegian invasion led by Magnus the Good against her own son. This story is hard to verify but it might possibly be an intriguing little insight into the complicated Anglo-Norman-Scandinavian politics of the 1040s - or it might not. Either way, it shows Mildred taking the part of a royal woman like herself against an act of cruelty from the king (which did actually happen, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 1043), a kind of solidarity across three centuries.

Let's have a look at some manuscripts of Goscelin's writings on Mildred. British Library, Harley 3908, a manuscript produced at St Augustine's in the early twelfth century, contains music for the Office for St Mildred's Day:

The Latin text can be found here. It tells us that among the saints of St Augustine's, 'Fulget Mildretha candida ut lilium inter rosas aut rosa inter lilia', 'Mildred shines white as a lily among roses, as a rose among lilies...' She is 'pearl of the Mercians, Canterbury's crown, the star of all England'.

The manuscript also contains the Life and Translation of the saint, as the big bold 'T' will show:

Here's a dragon opening Goscelin's Vita of St Mildred in another twelfth-century Canterbury manuscript (BL Harley 105, f. 138):

And more about St Mildred in yet another St Augustine's manuscript, BL Harley 652, f.209v - spot Cnut's name in the second paragraph:

(There are more manuscripts of these texts, of which I don't have images.) What you're seeing here is evidence of Mildred's importance to St Augustine's in the eleventh and twelfth centuries - among that monastery's plethora of saints, an illustrious roll-call of Italian missionaries, archbishops and kings, this Kentish nun held an honoured place.

Apart from Canterbury and one or two churches in Kent, there aren't many places where St Mildred is remembered now; but Oxford is one of them, for reasons which remain obscure (to me at least).  There was a church dedicated to St Mildred on the site where Lincoln College now stands, on the corner of Turl Street and Brasenose Lane (once called St Mildred's Lane). It was pulled down in the fifteenth century, and the parish was absorbed into that of St Michael at the Northgate. A statue of St Mildred was installed on the tower at Lincoln on Ascension Day, 2009:

The things which look like fighter jets are actually geese, with which St Mildred (like other female saints, including St Werburgh) is particularly associated.

In St Michael at the Northgate, the parish's old connection with St Mildred is remembered in the Lady Chapel, where a statue of Mildred, made in the 1930s, stands in the reredos alongside the Virgin and Oxford's St Frideswide:

Mildred is on the right of this picture, a willowy figure with an abbess' staff:

A decorated notice, describing the history of the chapel, bears what I take to be the crest of Minster Abbey:

And above the reredos, as chance would have it, is late-medieval glass of a lily crucifix:

Such iconography had not even been thought of when Mildred lived, or when Goscelin wrote, but it's a felicitous chance. Life is full of such coincidences. St Mildred's story was probably the first bit of Anglo-Saxon literature I ever learned, aged five or six, long before I knew what 'Anglo-Saxon' meant, but it was nothing more than coincidence which subsequently brought me to study at Lincoln College, on the ground where St Mildred's church stood; I didn't even know of Mildred's connection with the college until that Ascension Day in 2009, when I had been there two years already. She later found her way, quite by accident, into my doctoral thesis, for Cnut-related reasons. I thought I had left St Mildred behind me in Thanet, the only place where people have really heard of her; but she was here before me, and as it turned out, some of the happiest times of my life have been spent in the little island of enclosure between Turl Street and Radcliffe Square, bounded on the north by what was once St Mildred's Lane.

Saturday 9 July 2011

The slow watches of the night

I love verse two of this hymn, which is by Frederick Lucian Hosmer (1840-1929). The slow watches of the night, and weary days, and long times of waiting... all belong as much to God as the kingdom that will come.

(This is one of those hymns where punctuation is very important. Miss out those speech marks in the first line, and it becomes an extremely puzzling statement...)

"Thy kingdom come!" on bended knee
the passing ages pray;
and faithful souls have yearned to see
on earth that kingdom's day.

But the slow watches of the night
not less to God belong;
and for the everlasting right
the silent stars are strong.

And lo, already on the hills
the flags of dawn appear;
gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
proclaim the day is near:

The day to whose clear shining light
all wrong shall stand revealed,
when justice shall be throned in might,
and every heart be healed;

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
shall walk the earth abroad;
the day of perfect righteousness,
the promised day of God.

Friday 8 July 2011

'Home they brought her warrior dead'

Tennyson's poem 'Home they brought her warrior dead', which he published as one of the many short verses in The Princess, was loosely based on (a translation of) an Old Norse poem known as Guðrúnarkviða I. I've posted about this poem before, but here's some more of it; I'd forgotten how wonderful it is.

This is one of the poems of the Poetic Edda, part of the Volsung cycle of legends. It tells of the grief of Guðrún after her husband, the dragon-slayer Sigurðr, has been murdered by her brothers (they were incited to do it by Sigurðr's former lover Brynhildr; for the whole long complicated story, go here). Guðrún loves Sigurðr deeply and after his death, overcome with grief, she is unable to weep for him, trapped in numb passionate sorrow. Her companions try to break through her silence, afraid that she will be ill if she is unable to express her grief. The poem begins like this:

Ár var, þats Guðrún gerðisk at deyja,
er hon sat sorgfull yfir Sigurði;
gerðit hon hjúfra né höndum slá,
né kveina um sem konur aðrar.

Gengu jarlar alsnotrir fram,
þeir er harðs hugar hana löttu;
þeygi Guðrún gráta mátti,
svá var hon móðug, mundi hon springa.

It was long ago, when Guðrún wished to die,
when she sat sorrowful over Sigurðr;
she did not weep or strike her hands together
or lament like other women.

The most wise men came forward;
intending to ease her heavy sorrow;
but even so Guðrún could not weep,
she was so fierce in her grief, she could have burst apart.

[I can't translate 'móðug' very well, but perhaps this will help: imagine for yourself the semantic change which brought this word from signifying the very highest pitch of fierce, proud, passionate emotion down to today's Modern English 'moody'.]

Since the wisdom of the wise men has not comforted her, the women come forward and tell stories of their own heaviest griefs - the sons and husbands they have lost - to persuade her to weep. But Guðrún doesn't respond, and after each story this is repeated:

Þeygi Guðrún gráta mátti,
svá var hon móðug at mög dauðan
ok harðhuguð of hrör fylkis.

Even so Guðrún could not weep,
she was so móðug at the young man's death
and so heavy in heart for the fall of the prince.

At last her sister, seeing more keenly how to pierce Guðrún's impassive grief, pulls the covering away from Sigurðr's body, and shows Guðrún his hair streaming with blood, his eyes grown dim, the wound in his breast - and at last she can weep.

Þá hné Guðrún höll við bolstri,
haddr losnaði, hlýr roðnaði,
en regns dropi rann niðr of kné.

Then Guðrún knelt, leaning against the bolster,
she loosened her hair, her face grew red,
and drops like rain ran down her knee.

Guðrún cries so loudly that her geese cackle in response from the meadow [why is she associated with geese? I don't know. Perhaps St Werburh could explain.] Her sister says:

"Ykkrar vissa ek ástir mestar
manna allra fyr mold ofan;
unðir þá hvárki úti né inni,
systir mín nema hjá Sigurði."

Yours [plural], I know, was the greatest love
of all men across the world;
you were never happy, inside or outside,
my sister, except with Sigurðr.

And Guðrún speaks a lament for Sigurðr:

Svá var minn Sigurðr hjá sonum Gjúka
sem væri geirlaukr ór grasi vaxinn,
eða væri bjartr steinn á band dreginn,
jarknasteinn yfir öðlingum.

Ek þótta ok þjóðans rekkum hverri hæri Herjans dísi;
nú em ek svá lítil sem lauf séi
oft í jölstrum at jöfur dauðan.

Sakna ek í sessi ok í sæingu
míns málvinar, valda megir Gjúka;
valda megir Gjúka mínu bölvi
ok systur sinnar sárum gráti.

So was my Sigurðr, compared to the sons of Giuki, [her brothers]
like a leek growing up out of the grass;
or a bright stone threaded on a string,
a precious stone among the princes.

And I thought myself, among the prince's warriors,
to be higher than any of Odin's ladies;
now I am as little as a leaf
among the bay-willows, because of the death of the prince.

I miss, in seat and in bed,
my talking-friend; the kin of Gjúki caused this.
The kin of Gjúki caused my sorrow,
the sore weeping of their sister.

[málvinr is a lovely word - my 'friend for talking to']

She goes on to curse her brothers to misery and is upbraided by Brynhildr, who then kills herself because she can't bear to live without Sigurðr.

And now for Tennyson's version. Now, I'm quite fond of Tennyson, but it has to be admitted that what he did to this poem is like every cliche about Victorian sentimentality rolled into one. Take a guess: what do you think he uses to break the widow's tearless grief? Is it the sight of bloody wounds? Is it the look in her husband's lifeless eyes? Is it the gore streaming through his beautiful hair? No...

If you said, "the sight of her innocent child", you would be correct. Guðrún is perhaps the least sentimental mother of all Germanic legend - she killed her own infant children to get revenge on their father, her second husband (after Sigurðr), and sent her adult sons to their deaths to avenge the death of her daughter. She wasn't really one to be comforted by the idea of living for her sweet child. However, here's Tennyson:

Home they brought her warrior dead

Home they brought her warrior dead:
She nor swooned, nor uttered cry:
All her maidens, watching, said,
'She must weep or she will die.'

Then they praised him, soft and low,
Called him worthy to be loved,
Truest friend and noblest foe;
Yet she neither spoke nor moved.

Stole a maiden from her place,
Lightly to the warrior stepped,
Took the face-cloth from the face;
Yet she neither moved nor wept.

Rose a nurse of ninety years,
Set his child upon her knee--
Like summer tempest came her tears--
'Sweet my child, I live for thee.'

I confess to a fondness for verse two. But really, you would think that the author of In Memoriam, the Victorian poet of grief par excellence, could have come up with something a little more heartfelt, a little more true. In this one, the Old Norse poet beats the Poet Laureate hollow.

William Morris did a lot better in his Sigurd the Volsung, in a section entitled 'Of the mighty Grief of Gudrun over Sigurd dead':

Of old in the days past over was Gudrun blent with the dead,
As she sat in measureless sorrow o'er Sigurd's wasted bed,
But no sigh came from her bosom, nor smote she hand in hand,
Nor wailed with the other women, and the daughters of the land.

Then the wise of the Earls beheld her, smit cold with her dread intent,
And they rose one after other, and before the Queen they went;
Men ancient, men mighty in battle, men sweet of speech were there,
And they loved her, and entreated, and spake good words to hear:
But no tears and no lamenting in Gudrun's heart would strive
With the deadly chill of sorrow that none may bear and live.

Now there were the King-folk's daughters, and wives of the Earls of war,
The fair, and the noble-hearted, the wise in ancient lore;
And they rose one after other, and stood before the Queen
To tell of their woes past over, and the worst their eyes had seen:
There was Giaflaug, Giuki's sister, she was old and stark to see,
And she said: "O heavyhearted, they slew my King from me:
Look up, O child of the Niblungs, and hearken mournful things
Of the woes of living man-folk and the daughters of the Kings!
Dead now is the last of my brethren; to the dead my sister went;
My son and my little daughter in the earliest days were spent:
On the earth am I living loveless, long past are the happy days,
They lie with things departed and vain and foolish praise,
And the hopes of hapless people: yet I sit with the people's lords
When men are hushed to hearken the least of all my words.
What else is the wont of the Niblungs? why else by the Gods were they wrought,
Save to wear down lamentation, and make all sorrow nought?"

No word of woe gat Gudrun, nor had she will to weep,
Such weight of woe was on her for the golden Sigurd's sleep:
Her heart was cold and dreadful; nor good from ill she knew
For the love they had taken from her, and the day with naught to do.

Then troth-plight maids forsaken, and never-wedded ones,
And they that mourned dead husbands and the hope of unborn sons,
These told of their bitterest trouble and the worst their eyes had seen;
"Yet all we live to love thee, and the glory of the Queen.
Look up, look up, O Gudrun! what rest for them that wail
If the Queens of men shall tremble, and the God-kin faint and fail?"

No voice gat Gudrun's sorrow, no care she had to weep;
For the deeds of the day she knew not, nor the dreams of Sigurd's sleep:
Her heart was cold and dreadful; nor good from ill she knew,
Because of her love departed, and the day with naught to do.

Then spake a Queen of Welshland, and Herborg hight was she:
"O frozen heart of sorrow, the Norns dealt worse with me:
Of old, in the days departed, were my brave ones under shield,
Seven sons, and the eighth, my husband, and they fell in the Southland field:
Yet lived my father and mother, yet lived my brethren four,
And I bided their returning by the sea-washed bitter shore:
But the winds and death played with them, o'er the wide sea swept the wave,
The billows beat on the bulwarks and took what the battle gave:
Alone I sang above them, alone I dight their gear
For the uttermost journey of all men, in the harvest of the year:
Nor wakened spring from winter ere I left those early dead;
With bound hands and shameful body I went as the sea-thieves led:
Now I sit by the hearth of a stranger; nor have I weal nor woe,
Save the hope of the Niblung masters and the sorrow of a foe."

No wailing word gat Gudrun, no thought she had to weep
O'er the sundering tide of Sigurd, and the loved lord's lonely sleep:
Her heart was cold and dreadful; nor good from ill she knew,
Since her love was taken from her and the day of deeds to do.

Then arose a maid of the Niblungs, and Gullrond was her name,
And betwixt that Queen of Welshland and Gudrun's grief she came:
And she said: "O foster-mother, O wise in the wisdom of old,
Hast thou spoken a word to the dead, and known them hear and behold?
E'en so is this word thou speakest, and the counsel of thy face."

All heed gave the maids and the warriors, and hushed was the spear-thronged place,
As she stretched out her hand to Sigurd, and swept the linen away
From the lips that had holpen the people, and the eyes that had gladdened the day;
She set her hand unto Sigurd, and turned the face of the dead
To the moveless knees of Gudrun, and again she spake and said:
"O Gudrun, look on thy loved-one; yea, as if he were living yet
Let his face by thy face be cherished, and thy lips on his lips be set!"

Then Gudrun's eyes fell on it, and she saw the bright-one's hair
All wet with the deadly dew-fall, and she saw the great eyes stare
At that cloudy roof of the Niblungs without a smile or frown;
And she saw the breast of the mighty and the heart's wall rent adown:
She gazed and the woe gathered on her, so exceeding far away
Seemed all she once had cherished from that which near her lay;
She gazed, and it craved no pity, and therein was nothing sad,
Therein was clean forgotten the hope that Sigurd had:
Then she looked around and about her, as though her friend to find,
And met those woeful faces but as grey reeds in the wind,
And she turned to the King beneath her and raised her hands on high,
And fell on the body of Sigurd with a great and bitter cry;
All else in the house kept silence, and she as one alone
Spared not in that kingly dwelling to wail aloud and moan;
And the sound of her lamentation the peace of the Niblungs rent,
While the restless birds in the wall-nook their song to the green leaves sent;
And the geese in the home-mead wandering clanged out beneath the sun;
For now was the day's best hour, and its loveliest tide begun.

Long Gudrun lay on Sigurd, and her tears fell fast on the floor
As the rain in midmost April when the winter-tide is o'er,
Till she heard a wail anigh her and how Gullrond wept beside,
Then she knew the voice of her pity, and rose upright and cried:
"O ye, e'en such was my Sigurd among these Giuki's sons,
As the hart with the horns day-brightened mid the forest-creeping ones;
As the spear-leek fraught with wisdom mid the lowly garden grass;
As the gem on the gold band's midmost when the council cometh to pass,
And the King is lit with its glory, and the people wonder and praise.
— O people, Ah thy craving for the least of my Sigurd's days!
O wisdom of my Sigurd! how oft I sat with thee
Thou striver, thou deliverer, thou hope of things to be!
O might of my love, my Sigurd! how oft I sat by thy side,
And was praised for the loftiest woman and the best of Odin's pride!
But now am I as little as the leaf on the lone tree left,
When the winter wood is shaken and the sky by the North is cleft."
Then her speech grew wordless wailing, and no man her meaning knew.

Morris wonderfully conveys the incredible power of Guðrún's grief, which is such a memorable part of the Norse legend. It is a 'mighty grief', in Morris' phrase; it is overpowering, unmanageable, and beyond speech. That's what so moving about the story - that her grief has completely immobilised and silenced her. Pitched past pitch of grief, she can't grieve - she can't speak or give words to her sorrow. And for Guðrún, as for women generally in Germanic legend, silence is stasis, speech is action; speech does things. Silent, she is helpless; speaking, she begins to control her grief. All the women who recount their stories of sorrow, attempting to spark a cathartic response in catatonic Gudrun, depict (as Morris' poem reflects, and Tennyson's really doesn't) a collective experiencing of grief, which mirrors the cathartic effect of listening to a fictional story like Gudrun's. That's part of the power of it - that your own sorrow, whatever it is which has most wounded you, the reader, could be one of the stories the women tell.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Mariana in the Moated Grange

I'm in a Tennyson mood at the moment, and this has always been one of my favourites.

With blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:
The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the pear to the gable-wall.
The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:
Unlifted was the clinking latch;
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
Upon the lonely moated grange.
She only said, "My life is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

Her tears fell with the dews at even;
Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;
She could not look on the sweet heaven,
Either at morn or eventide.
After the flitting of the bats,
When thickest dark did trance the sky,
She drew her casement-curtain by,
And glanced athwart the glooming flats.
She only said, "The night is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

Upon the middle of the night,
Waking she heard the night-fowl crow:
The cock sung out an hour ere light:
From the dark fen the oxen's low
Came to her: without hope of change,
In sleep she seem'd to walk forlorn,
Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn
About the lonely moated grange.
She only said, "The day is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

About a stone-cast from the wall
A sluice with blacken'd waters slept,
And o'er it many, round and small,
The cluster'd marish-mosses crept.
Hard by a poplar shook alway,
All silver-green with gnarled bark:
For leagues no other tree did mark
The level waste, the rounding gray.
She only said, "My life is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said "I am aweary, aweary
I would that I were dead!"

And ever when the moon was low,
And the shrill winds were up and away,
In the white curtain, to and fro,
She saw the gusty shadow sway.
But when the moon was very low
And wild winds bound within their cell,
The shadow of the poplar fell
Upon her bed, across her brow.
She only said, "The night is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

All day within the dreamy house,
The doors upon their hinges creak'd;
The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse
Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,
Or from the crevice peer'd about.
Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors
Old footsteps trod the upper floors,
Old voices called her from without.
She only said, "My life is dreary,
He cometh not," she said;
She said, "I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!"

The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,
The slow clock ticking, and the sound
Which to the wooing wind aloof
The poplar made, did all confound
Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
When the thick-moted sunbeam lay
Athwart the chambers, and the day
Was sloping toward his western bower.
Then said she, "I am very dreary,
He will not come," she said;
She wept, "I am aweary, aweary,
Oh God, that I were dead!"

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Psalm Translations: The Lord is my light

Psalm 27 is appointed for the fifth evening of the month, and so here are some various translations of it. This is one of my favourite psalms and, as I've said before, the source of the motto of the University of Oxford, so it seems a fitting place to start an occasional mini series on medieval psalm translations.

So for a reminder, here's the Book of Common Prayer version:

1. The Lord is my light, and my salvation; whom then shall I fear :
the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?

2. When the wicked, even mine enemies, and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh :
they stumbled and fell.

3. Though an host of men were laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid :
and though there rose up war against me, yet will I put my trust in him.

4. One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require :
even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit his temple.

5. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his tabernacle :
yea, in the secret place of his dwelling shall he hide me, and set me up upon a rock of stone.

6. And now shall he lift up mine head :
above mine enemies round about me.

7. Therefore will I offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness
: I will sing, and speak praises unto the Lord.

8. Hearken unto my voice, O Lord, when I cry unto thee :
have mercy upon me, and hear me.

9. My heart hath talked of thee, Seek ye my face :
Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

10. O hide not thou thy face from me :
nor cast thy servant away in displeasure.

11. Thou hast been my succour :
leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

12. When my father and my mother forsake me :
the Lord taketh me up.

13. Teach me thy way, O Lord :
and lead me in the right way, because of mine enemies.

14. Deliver me not over into the will of mine adversaries :
for there are false witnesses risen up against me, and such as speak wrong.

15. I should utterly have fainted :
but that I believe verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

16. O tarry thou the Lord’s leisure :
be strong, and he shall comfort thine heart; and put thou thy trust in the Lord.

I couldn't find any Old English versions of this psalm, nor access Rolle's commentary on it; but here's the version from the Wycliffe Bible, from the end of the fourteenth century. Emphasis for the things which struck me:

1. The Lord is my liytnyng, and myn helthe; whom schal Y drede? The Lord is defendere of my lijf; for whom schal Y tremble?

['lightening'! Isn't that great? Of course it's in the sense of 'something which lightens' rather than, you know, like you get in a thunderstorm; but it's still a great choice of word.]

2. The while noiful men neiyen on me; for to ete my fleischis. Myn enemyes, that trobliden me; thei weren maad sijk and felden doun.

[nice alliteration. 'noiful' is, as you may be able to guess, related to annoying. And 'neiyen' is draw nigh.]

3. Thouy castels stonden togidere ayens me; myn herte schal not drede. Thouy batel risith ayens me; in this thing Y schal haue hope.

4. I axide of the Lord o thing; Y schal seke this thing; that Y dwelle in the hows of the Lord alle the daies of my lijf. That Y se the wille of the Lord; and that Y visite his temple.

[observe how close the bolded phrase is to the BCP version, which is a literary descendant of the Wycliffite Bible]

5. For he hidde me in his tabernacle in the dai of yuelis; he defendide me in the hid place of his tabernacle.

6. He enhaunside me in a stoon; and now he enhaunside myn heed ouer myn enemyes. I cumpasside, and offride in his tabernacle a sacrifice of criyng; Y schal synge, and Y schal seie salm to the Lord.

7. Lord, here thou my vois, bi which Y criede to thee; haue thou merci on me, and here me.

8. Myn herte seide to thee, My face souyte thee; Lord, Y schal seke eft thi face.

9. Turne thou not awei thi face fro me; bouwe thou not awei in ire fro thi seruaunt. Lord, be thou myn helpere, forsake thou not me; and, God, myn helthe, dispise thou not me.

10. For my fadir and my modir han forsake me; but the Lord hath take me.

11. Lord, sette thou a lawe to me in thi weie; and dresse thou me in thi path for myn enemyes.

12. Bitake thou not me in to the soules of hem, that troblen me; for wickid witnessis han rise ayens me, and wickydnesse liede to it silf.

13. I bileue to see the goodis of the Lord; in the lond of `hem that lyuen.
14. Abide thou the Lord, do thou manli; and thin herte be coumfortid, and suffre thou the Lord.
[be 'manly'! In the sense of 'brave, resolute', of course; a translation of the Vulgate's Latin 'viriliter', for which the BCP chooses 'strong'.]

The psalm in Latin and English, from British Library, Harley 1896

The next translation is a metrical version, earlier than the Wycliffite Bible by about a century, and from Yorkshire. It's from the Surtees Psalter, which is online here. If you want to read it in a Yorkshire accent, that would probably help.

1. Lauerd mi lightinge es in lede,
And mi hele; wham i sal drede?

2. Lauerd forhiler of mi life;
For whate sal [i] quake, swerde or knife?

3. Whil neghes ouer me derand,
To ete mi flesche fote and hand,

4. Þat droues me mi faas þat are
Þai are vnfeste and felle sare.

5. Ife stand ogaines me kastelles ma,
Noght drede sal mi hert for þa;

6. Ife vprise ogaine me fighte,
In þat sal i hope in mighte.

7. Life ofe lauerd asked i,
Þat sal .i. seke inwardeli:
Þat [i] wone hous ofe lauerd ine
Alle þe daies ofe life mine,

[ditto to the above note.]

8. Þat i se wille of lauerd swa,
And seke his kirke in forto ga.

[note 'kirke' for tabernacle, here as in the next verse; and if you have a scholarly interest in these things, you may be interested in this article.]

9. For he hide me in his kirke in iuels dai,
He hiled me in hidel ofe his telde ai;

10. In stane heghed me on-ane,
And nou heghed mi heued ouer mi fane.

11. I vmyhode, and offrede in telde hisse
Offrand ofe berand steuen þat isse;
I sal singe bi night and daie,
And salme to lauerd sal i saie.

12. Here, lauerd, mi steuen, þat i crie to þe;
Hafe merci ofe me, and here me.

13. To þe mi hert saide: “þe soght face mine;
I sal seke, lauerd, to face þine”.

14. Ne turne þine anleth me fra;
Ne helde in wreth fra þi hine swa.

15. Mi helper be; ne me forlete,
Ne me forse, god mi hele swete.

[this is a nice rhyme. 'forse' = 'forsake']

16. For mi fader and mi moder me forsoke þai;
Lauerd sothlike vptoke me ai.

17. Lagh set to me, lauerd, in waieþine,
And right me in right stiyhe, for faes myne.

18. Ne hafe giuen me onhande
In saules ofe me drouande;
For in me raas wicked witnes,
And leghed to þam þair wickenes.

19. I leue godes of lauerd to se
In þe land ofe liuande be.

[note that here we already have the famous phrase 'land of the living'. So you can be a little sceptical when, in this King James Version anniversary year, you hear well-meaning people listing all the phrases the KJV has given to the world and including 'land of the living' among them (as for instance in this BBC article, despite David Crystal's warning in the very next sentence). The Vulgate Latin, by the way, is 'in terra viventium'.]

20. Abide lauerd, manlike do nou,
And strenþhed be þi hert, and lauerd vphald þou.

Manly again!

Moving on from the medieval examples, you know who else did a metrical translation of the psalms? Lovely Philip Sidney, and his amazing sister Mary, Countess of Pembroke. They are a very cool pair of literary siblings, and their version of the psalms was praised by John Donne (in this poem), so you know it's good. Here's what they (possibly just Philip, since this is one of the early psalms) did with Psalm 27:

1. The shining Lord He is my light,
The strong God my salvation is,
Who shall be able me to fright?
This Lord with strength my life doth blisse;
And shall I then
Feare might of men?

2. When wicked folk, even they that be
My foes, to utmost of their pow'r,
With rageing jawes environ me,
My very flesh for to devoure,
They stumble so,
That down they go.

3. Then though against me arrays were,
My courage should not be dismaid;
Though battaile's brunt I needs must beare,
While battaile's brunt on me were laid,
In this I would
My trust still hold.

4. One thing in deed I did, and will
For euer craue: that dwell I may
In house of high Jehova still,
On beauty His my eyes to stay,
And look into
His temple too.

5. For when great griefes to me be ment,
In tabernacle His I will
Hide me, ev'n closely in His tent
Yea, noble hight of rocky hill
He makes to be
A seat for me.

6. Now, now shall He lift vp my head
On my beseiging enemyes;
So shall I sacrifices spred,
Offrings of joy in Temple His,
And songes accord,
To prayse the Lord.

7. Heare, Lord, when I my voice display,
Heare to haue mercy eke on me;
'Seek ye My face,' when Thou didst say,
In truth of heart I answerd Thee:
O Lord, I will
Seek Thy face still.

8. Hide not therfore from me that face,
Since all my ayd in Thee I got;
In rage Thy servant do not chase,
Forsake not me, O, leaue me not,
O God of my
Salvation high.

9. Though father's care and mother's loue
Abandond me, yet my decay
Should be restor'd by Him aboue:
Teach, Lord, Lord, lead me Thy right way,
Because of those
That be my foes.

10. Vnto whose ever hating lust,
Oh, giue me not, for there are sproong
Against me witnesses unjust,
Ev'n such, I say, whose lying tongue
Fiercly affords
Most cruel words.

11. What had I been, except I had
Beleivd God's goodness for to see,
In land with living creatures clad?
Hope, trust in God, bee strong, and He
Unto thy hart
Shall joy impart.

The last verse, being the most beautiful sentiment, makes the most beautiful poetry. (Although can he really have meant 'clad'? How can a land be 'clad' with living creatures? That puzzles me. And the word order he uses a few times, 'tabernacle His', 'temple His', 'beauty His', strikes me as extremely strange. You almost never see that in English verse. But that last verse is so lovely!)

For other metrical translations, see:
Isaac Watts
A version from the Scottish Psalter of 1650

Sunday 3 July 2011

Of pardon, grace, and peace

The Gospel reading at church this morning was:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I associate this passage with Compline, where it's one of the regular readings - a dark chapel, candlelight, and stillness - and also with this hymn. It's by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), who wrote one of my favourite Christmas carols, 'As with gladness men of old'. It's not, to be honest, particularly inspired, but there's no turning that Gospel passage into anything less than beauty.

1. "Come unto Me, ye weary,
And I will give you rest."
O blessed voice of Jesus
Which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction,
Of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that hath no ending,
Of love which cannot cease.

2. "Come unto Me, dear children,
And I will give you light."
O loving voice of Jesus
Which comes to cheer the night!
Our hearts were filled with sadness,
And we had lost our way;
But morning brings us gladness,
And songs the break of day.

3. "Come unto Me, ye fainting,
And I will give you life."
O peaceful voice of Jesus
Which comes to end our strife!
The foe is stern and eager,
The fight is fierce and long;
But Thou hast made us mighty,
And stronger than the strong.

4. "And whosoever cometh
I will not cast him out."
O patient love of Jesus
Which drives away our doubt;
Which calls us, very sinners,
Unworthy though we be
Of love so free and boundless,
To come, dear Lord, to Thee!