While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, Acts 7:59–60
Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Then he fell on his knees and cried out,
Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Words: Christopher Wordsworth, The Holy Year (London: Rivingtons, 1863), number 9.
St. Stephen’s Day.
The hymn had the following footnote regarding the phrase
Sacred Way in the first stanza:
As theVia SacraorSacred Wayat Rome was the road on which the Triumphal Processions passed to the Capitol and as theVia Sacraat Athens was the road which led to the Temple at Eleusis, and to those Mysteries in which even the Heathen endeavoured to display the bliss of another world.
To all the saints of God on earth;
Their death day is their day of birth
Death is their door of life, the Sacred Way
By which they pass to realms of endless day.
And whence do all the saints derive
The life by which through death they live?
From God made flesh; on Him their virtues grow.
He is the fount from which their graces flow.
We sang to God on yestermorn,
When Jesus Christ for us was born;
And from His birth the saints their birthdays date;
And in the saints their Lord we celebrate.
Today the first of martyrs dies,
And dying enters paradise;
Foes rage against him; but what gleams of grace
Angelic shine on his transfigured face!
While storms of stones around him fly,
His soul is anchored in the sky;
I see Heav’n opened, and at God’s right hand he cries,
The Son of Man,
in glory stand.
Jesu, receive my soul, he says.
Kneels down, and then more loudly prays,
Lord, do not this their sin in memory keep—
And when he thus had said, he fell asleep.
Lord, when we suffer here for Thee,
Grant us Thy glorious face to see,
And on the spirit’s wings of faith and love
Waft us from earth to light and life above.
Praises to God the Father give,
And to the Son in whom we live;
And praise to God the Holy Spirit be,
One everlasting God, and Persons Three.