The first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14:4
Words: Aurelius Prudentius, 413, cento (Salvete flores martyrum). Translated from Latin to English by Henry W. Baker in Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1875. The metaphor of the murdered children as flowers recalls how St. Augustine described them as
buds, killed by the frost of persecution the moment they showed themselves.
Sweet flowerets of the martyr band,
So early plucked by cruel hand;
Like rosebuds by a tempest torn,
As breaks the light of summer morn.
First victims offered for the Lord,
Ye little knew your high reward,
As, at the very altar, gay
With palms and crowns ye seemed to play.
Ah! what availed King Herod’s wrath?
He could not stay your Savior’s path;
The Child he sought alone went free;
That Child is King eternally.
O Lord, the virgin born, to Thee
Praise, honor, might and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost forevermore.