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
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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).

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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.