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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Giles Fletcher (1588?–1623)

The Passion

FRAIL multitude! whose giddy law is list, 1
And best applause is windy flattering,
Most like the breath of which it doth consist,
No sooner blown but as soon vanishing,
As much desired, as little profiting,        5
    That makes the men that have it oft as light
    As those that give it, which the proud invite,
And fear; the bad man’s friend, the good man’s hypocrite.
It was but now their sounding clamours sung,
“Blessed is He that comes from the Most High!”        10
And all the mountains with hosannah rung;
And now, “Away with Him, away!” they cry,
And nothing can be heard but “Crucify”:
    It was but now the crown itself they save,
    And golden name of King unto Him gave;        15
And now no king but only Cæsar they will have.
It was but now they gathered blooming May,
And of his arms disrobed the branching tree,
To strow with boughs and blossoms all Thy way;
And now the branchless trunk a cross for Thee,        20
And May dismay’d thy coronet must be:
    It was but now they were so kind to throw
    Their own best garments, where Thy feet should go;
And now Thyself they strip, and bleeding wounds they show.
See where the Author of all life is dying:        25
O fearful day! He dead, what hope of living?
See where the hopes of all our lives are buying;
O cheerful day! they bought, what fear of grieving?
Love love for hate and life for death is giving:
    Lo, how His arms are stretch’d abroad to grace thee,        30
    And, as they open stand, call to embrace thee:
Why stay’st thou then, my soul? O fly, fly, thither haste thee!
What better friendship than to cover shame?
What greater love than for a friend to die?
Yet this is better to asself 2 the blame,        35
And this is greater, for an enemy:
But more than this, to die, not suddenly,
    Not with some common death or easy pain,
    But slowly, and with torments to be slain:
O depth without a depth, far better seen than say’n!        40
And yet the Son is humbled for the slave,
And yet the slave is proud before the Son:
Yet the Creator for His creature gave
Himself, and yet the creature hastes to run
From his Creator, and self-good doth shun:        45
    And yet the Prince, and God Himself, doth cry
    To man, his traitor, pardon not to fly:
Yet man his God, and traitor doth his Prince defy.
Note 1. Lust, desire. [back]
Note 2. Take on oneself. [back]