Home  »  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century  »  John Mason Neale, trans. (1818–1866)

Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Mediæval Hymns and Sequences. Hora Novissima. IV. “For thee, O dear dear Country!”

John Mason Neale, trans. (1818–1866)

(From “Bernard of Clugny”)
(Selected Passages)

FOR thee, O dear dear Country!

Mine eyes their vigils keep;

For very love, beholding

Thy happy name, they weep:

The mention of thy glory

Is unction to the breast,

And medicine in sickness,

And love, and life, and rest.

O come, O onely Mansion!

O Paradise of Joy!

Where tears are ever banished,

And smiles have no alloy;

Beside thy living waters

All plants are, great and small,

The cedar of the forest,

The hyssop of the wall:

With jaspers glow thy bulwarks;

Thy streets with emeralds blaze;

The sardius and the topaz

Unite in thee their rays:

Thine ageless walls are bonded

With amethyst unpriced:

Thy Saints build up its fabric,

And the corner-stone is Christ.

The Cross is all thy splendour,

The Crucified thy praise:

His laud and benediction

Thy ransomed people raise:

Jesus, the Gem of Beauty,

True God and Man, they sing:

The never-failing Garden,

The ever-golden Ring:

The Door, the Pledge, the Husband,

The Guardian of His Court:

The Day-star of Salvation,

The Porter and the Port.

Thou hast no shore, fair ocean!

Thou hast no time, bright day!

Dear fountain of refreshment

To pilgrims far away!

Upon the Rock of Ages

They raise thy holy tower:

Thine is the victor’s laurel,

And thine the golden dower:

Thou feel’st in mystic rapture

O Bride that know’st no guile,

The Prince’s sweetest kisses,

The Prince’s loveliest smile:

Unfading lilies, bracelets

Of living pearl thine own:

The Lamb is ever near thee,

The Bridegroom thine alone:

The Crown is He to guerdon,

The Buckler to protect,

And He Himself the Mansion,

And He the Architect.

The only art thou needest,

Thanksgiving for thy lot:

The only joy thou seekest,

The Life where Death is not:

And all thine endless leisure

In sweetest accents sings,

The ill that was thy merit,—

The wealth that is thy King’s!

Jerusalem the golden,

With milk and honey blest,

Beneath thy contemplation

Sink heart and voice oppressed:

I know not, O I know not,

What social joys are there!

What radiancy of glory,

What light beyond compare!

And when I fain would sing them

My spirit fails and faints,

And vainly would it image

The assembly of the Saints.

They stand, those halls of Syon,

Conjubilant with song,

And bright with many an angel,

And all the martyr throng:

The Prince is ever in them;

The daylight is serene:

The pastures of the Blessèd

Are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the Throne of David,

And there, from care released,

The song of them that triumph,

The shout of them that feast;

And they who, with their Leader,

Have conquered in the fight,

For ever and for ever

Are clad in robes of white!

O holy, placid harp-notes

Of that eternal hymn!

O sacred, sweet refection,

And peace of Seraphim!

O thirst, for ever ardent,

Yet evermore content!

O true, peculiar vision

Of God cunctipotent!

Ye know the many mansions

For many a glorious name,

And divers retributions

That divers merits claim:

For midst the constellations

That deck our earthly sky,

This star than that is brighter,—

And so it is on high.

Jerusalem the glorious!

The glory of the Elect!

O dear and future vision

That eager hearts expect:

Even now by faith I see thee:

Even here thy walls discern:

To thee my thoughts are kindled,

And strive and pant and yearn:

Jerusalem the onely,

That look’st from heaven below,

In thee is all my glory;

In me is all my woe!

And though my body may not,

My spirit seeks thee fain,

Till flesh and earth return me

To earth and flesh again.

O none can tell thy bulwarks,

How gloriously they rise:

O none can tell thy capitals

Of beautiful device:

Thy loveliness oppresses

All human thought and heart:

And none, O peace, O Syon,

Can sing thee as thou art.

New mansion of new people,

Whom God’s own love and light

Promote, increase, make holy,

Identify, unite.

Thou City of the Angels!

Thou City of the Lord!

Whose everlasting music

Is the glorious decachord!

And there the band of Prophets

United praise ascribes,

And there the twelvefold chorus

Of Israel’s ransomed tribes:

The lily-beds of virgins,

The roses’ martyr-glow,

The cohort of the Fathers

Who kept the faith below.

And there the Sole-Begotten

Is Lord in regal state;

He, Judah’s mystic Lion,

He, Lamb Immaculate.

O fields that know no sorrow!

O state that fears no strife!

O princely bow’rs! O land of flow’rs!

O realm and home of Life!