Home  »  The Poets’ Bible  »  The Martyrdom of Stephen

W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

The Martyrdom of Stephen

Adam of St. Victor (d. 1146)

Translated by John Mason Neale

YESTERDAY, with exultation

Join’d the world in celebration

Of her promis’d Saviour’s birth;

Yesterday the Angel nation

Pour’d the strains of jubilation

O’er the Monarch born on earth.

But to-day, o’er death victorious,

By his faith and actions glorious,

By his miracles renown’d,

Dared the Deacon Protomartyr,

Earthly life for Heav’n to barter,

Faithful midst the faithless found.

Forward, champion, in thy quarrel!

Certain of a certain laurel,

Holy Stephen, persevere!

Perjur’d witnesses confounding,

Satan’s Synagogue astounding

By thy doctrine true and clear.

Lo! in Heaven thy Witness liveth:

Bright and faithful proof He giveth

Of His martyr’s blamelessness:

Thou by name a Crown impliest;

Meetly then in pangs thou diest

For the Crown of Righteousness!

For a crown that fadeth never,

Bear the torturer’s brief endeavour:

Victory waits to end the strife:

Death shall be thy birth’s beginning,

And life’s losing be the winning

Of the true and better Life.

Whom the Holy Ghost endueth,

Whom celestial sight embueth,

Stephen penetrates the skies;

There God’s fullest glory viewing,

There his victor strength renewing,

For his near reward he sighs.

See, as Jewish foes invade thee,

See how Jesus stands to aid thee:

Stands to guard His champion’s death:

Cry that opened Heaven is shown thee:

Cry that Jesus waits to own thee:

Cry it with thy latest breath!

As the dying Martyr kneeleth,

For his murderers he appealeth,

And his prayer their pardon sealeth,

For their madness grieving sore;

Then in Christ he sleepeth sweetly,

Who His pattern kept completely.

And with Christ he reigneth meetly,

Martyr first-fruits, evermore! Amen.