Scripture Verse

The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10


John M. Neale (1818–1866)


Words: An­drew of Crete, prob­ab­ly writ­ten about the end of the 7th Cen­tu­ry (Βοηθὸς καὶ σκεπαστὴς ἐγένετό μοι εἰς σωτηρίαν). Trans­lat­ed from Greek to Eng­lish by John M. Neale, Hymns of the East­ern Church, 1862, page 24.

Music: Co­ve­nant (Barn­by) Jo­seph Barn­by, in Church Hymns with Tunes, ed­it­ed by Ar­thur S. Sul­li­van (Lon­don: So­cie­ty for Pro­mot­ing Chris­tian Know­ledge, 1874), num­ber 112 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Joseph Barnby (1838–1896)

It would be un­par­don­a­ble not to give a por­tion of that which the Greeks re­gard as the King of Can­ons—the Great Can­on of the Mid-Lent week.

It is a col­lect­ion of Scrip­tur­al ex­am­ples, turned to the pur­pose of pe­ni­ten­tial Con­fess­ion. It is im­pos­si­ble to de­ny the beau­ty of ma­ny stan­zas, and the in­ge­nu­ity of some tro­po­lo­gic­al ap­pli­ca­tions.

But the im­mense length of the Can­on, for it ex­ceeds three hund­red stan­zas, and its ne­ces­sa­ry tau­tol­o­gy, must re­nder it wear­i­some, un­less de­vo­tion­al­ly used un­der the pe­cul­iar cir­cum­stanc­es for which it is ap­point­ed. The fol­low­ing is a part of the ear­li­er por­tion.

John Mason Neale, 1862


Whence shall my tears be­gin?
What first-fruits shall I bear
Of ear­nest sor­row for my sin?
Or how my woes de­clare?
O Thou! the mer­ci­ful and gra­cious One
Forgive the foul trans­gress­ions I have done.

With Ad­am I have vied,
Yea, passed him, in my fall;
And I am nak­ed now, by pride
And lust made bare of all;
Of Thee, O God, and that ce­les­ti­al band,
And all the glo­ry of the promised land.

No earth­ly Eve be­guiled
My bo­dy in­to sin:
A spi­ri­tu­al temp­tress smiled,
Concupiscence with­in:
Unbridled pass­ion grasped the un­hal­lowed sweet:
Most bit­ter—ev­er bit­ter—was the meat.

If Ad­am’s right­eous doom,
Because he dared trans­gress
Thy one de­cree, lost Ed­en’s bloom
And Ed­en’s love­li­ness:
What re­com­pense, O Lord, must I ex­pect,
Who all my life Thy quick­en­ing laws ne­glect?

By mine own act, like Cain,
A mur­der­er was I made:
By mine own act my soul was slain,
When Thou wast dis­ob­eyed:
And lusts each day are quick­ened, war­ring still
Against Thy grace with ma­ny a deed of ill.

Thou formed’st me of clay,
O heav’nly Pot­ter! Thou
In flesh­ly ves­ture didst ar­ray,
With life and breath en­dow.
Thou who didst make, didst ran­som, and dost know
To Thy rep­ent­ant crea­ture pi­ty show!

My guilt for ven­geance cries;
But yet Thou par­don­est all,
And whom Thou lov’st Thou dost chas­tise,
And mourn’st for them that fall:
Thou, as a Fa­ther, mark’st our tears and pain,
And wel­com­est the pro­di­gal again.

I lie be­fore Thy door,
O turn me not away!
Nor in mine old age give me o’er
To Sa­tan for a prey!
But ere the end of life and term of grace,
Thou mer­ci­ful! my many sins ef­face!

The priest be­held, and passed
The way he had to go:
A care­less glance the Le­vite cast,
And left me to my woe:
But Thou, O Je­su, Ma­ry’s Son, con­sole,
Draw nigh, and suc­cor me, and make me whole!

Thou spot­less Lamb di­vine,
Who tak­est sins away,
Remove, re­move, the load that mine
Upon my con­sci­ence lay:
And, of Thy ten­der mer­cy, grant Thou me
To find re­mis­sion of ini­qui­ty.