Monday, 3 June 2013

A Summer Carol: How great the harvest is

This 'summer carol' takes us from Easter, through Ascension, to Pentecost and Trinity Sunday in one swift run. In the Oxford Book of Carols it's attributed to 'S.P.' and set to the 17th-century Dutch tune 'De Liefde Voortgebracht', better known to English-speakers as the glorious tune to 'This joyful Eastertide'!  I'll take any excuse to sing that tune out of Eastertide, and I like this a lot; verse 5 is my favourite.

1. How great the harvest is
Of him who came to save us!
The hearts of men are his,
Our law the love he gave us.
The world lay cruel, blind,
Naught holding, naught divining;
He came to humankind,
And now the light is shining.

2. And though the news did seem
Too good for man's believing,
'Tis not an empty dream
Too high for our achieving.
He triumphed in the strife,
O'er all his foes he towered;
They killed the Prince of life,
But he hath death o'erpowered.

3. Then came the Father's call;
His work on earth was ended;
That he might light on all,
To heaven the Lord ascended.
To heaven so near to earth,
Our hearts we do surrender
There all things find their worth
And human life its splendour.

4. The power by which there came
The Word of God among us
Was Love's eternal flame,
Whose light and heat are flung us;
That Spirit sent from God,
Within our hearts abiding,
Hath brought us on our road
And still the world is guiding.

5. In Three made manifest,
Thou source of all our being,
Thou loveliest, truest, best,
Beyond our power of seeing;
Thou power of light and love.
Thou life that never diest -
To thee in whom all move
Be glory in the highest.

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