Scripture Verse

A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children. Jeremiah 31:15


John M. Neale (1818–1866)


Words: From Cas­san­der’s Hym­ni Ec­cle­si­as­ti­ci (Co­logne, Ger­ma­ny: 1556) (Hym­num ca­nen­tes mar­tyr­um), where it is at­trib­ut­ed to the Ve­ne­ra­ble Bede (673–735). John M. Neale trans­lat­ed it from La­tin to Eng­lish in Me­di­ae­val Hymns, 1851. Hymns An­cient and Mo­dern al­tered Neale’s trans­la­tion to A hymn for mar­tyrs sweet­ly sing.

Music: Wer da wo­net Mi­chael Vehe’s Ge­sang­büch­lein geyst­lich­er Lied­er (Leip­zig, Germany: 1537) (🔊 pdf nwc).

The Venerable Bede (673–735)


The hymn for con­quer­ing mar­tyrs raise,
The vic­tor in­no­cents we praise,
Whom in their woe earth cast away,
But Heav’n with joy re­ceived to­day;
Whose an­gels see the Fa­ther’s face
World with­out end, and hymn His grace;
And while they chant un­ceas­ing lays,
The hymn for con­quer­ing mar­tyrs raise.

A voice from Ra­mah was there sent,
A voice of weep­ing and la­ment,
When Ra­chel mourned the child­ren’s care
Whom for the ty­rant’s sword she bare.
Triumphal is their glo­ry now,
Whom earth­ly tor­ments could not bow,
What time, both far and near that went,
A voice from Ra­mah there was sent.

Fear not, O lit­tle flock and blest,
The lion that your life op­prest!
To hea­ven­ly pas­tures ev­er new
The hea­ven­ly Shep­herd lead­eth you;
Who, dwell­ing now on Zi­on’s hill,
The Lamb’s dear foot­steps fol­low still;
By ty­rant there no more dis­tressed,
Fear not, O lit­tle flock and blest.

And ev­ery tear is wiped away
By your dear Fa­ther’s hands for ay;
Death hath no pow­er to hurt you more,
Whose own is life’s eter­nal store.
Who sow their seed, and sow­ing weep,
In ev­er­last­ing joy shall reap,
What time they shine in hea­ven­ly day,
And ev­ery tear is wiped away.

O ci­ty blest o’er all the earth,
Who glo­ri­est in the Sav­ior’s birth,
Who are His ear­li­est mar­tyrs dear,
By kind­red and by tri­umph here;
None from hence­forth may call thee small,
Of ri­val towns thou pass­est all:
In whom our mon­arch had His birth,
O ci­ty blest o’er all the earth!