Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Hymn for the Faithful Departed

As others may have noted, Christians have been dying for about two thousand years now. Given this fact, one would think there would be more hymns suitable for All Souls Day. But I have found very few. In 2008 All Souls Day fell on a Sunday and this help to focus my mind on the theme. I found a suitable text, written by an Anglican missionary (onetime chaplain to the Bishop of Zanzibar) who first composed the lyrics in Swahili before making his own translation into English. A setting of the beautiful text to a tune of my own devising may be found here.

Jesus, Son of Mary, fount of life alone,
here we hail thee present on thine altar-throne.
Humbly we adore thee, Lord of endless might,
in the mystic symbols veiled from earthly sight.

Think, O Lord, in mercy on the souls of those
who, in faith gone from us, now in death repose.
Here 'mid stress and conflict toils can never cease;
there, the warfare ended, bid them rest in peace.

Often were they wounded in the deadly strife;
heal them, good Physician, with the balm of life.
Every taint of evil, frailty and decay,
good and gracious Savior, cleanse and purge away.

Rest eternal grant unto them, after weary fight;
shed on them the radiance of thy heavenly light.
Lead them onward, upward, to the holy place,
where thy saints made perfect gaze upon thy face.

Words: Edmund S. Palmer, 1902, 1906
based on the author's original text in Swahili


John F H H said...

As well as Malet's Corpus Domini, the tune found in the English Hymnal, the hymn also goes well to Cranham, the tune for In the Bleak Mid-winter.

Kind regards,

Father Thomas Buffer said...

Thank you!