Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Another October 28 has come around, the commemoration of Saint Simon and Saint Jude.  General hymns about saints and martyrs are always appropriate for saints' days if one for the specific day is not available.  This hymn is a John Mason Neale translation of the medieval Latin text O beata beatorum.

Blessed feasts of blessed martyrs,
Holy women, holy men,
With affection's recollections,
Greet we your return again.
Mighty deeds are theirs, and wonders,
Worthy of the name they bore;
We, with joyful praise and singing,
Honor them for evermore.

Faith prevailing, hope unfailing,
Loving Christ with single heart,
Thus they, glorious and victorious
Bravely bore the martyr's part
By contempt of every anguish,
By far-ranging journeys done;
Victors at the last, they triumph
With the host of angels one.

Therefore, ye that reign in glory,
Fellow heirs with Christ on high,
Join to ours your praise and worship
When before him we draw nigh,
Praying that, this life completed,
All its fleeting moments past,
By his grace we may be gathered
To eternal bliss at last.

Latin, 12th cent.
tr. John Mason Neale, 1851; alt.
Henry T. Smart, 1867

Neale's original translation was a bit longer but it has been altered by many hands over the years.  His original last four lines may show why it is probably not considered to be his best work.  

That this naughty life completed,
And its transient labors past.
We may merit to be seated
In our Lord's bright home at last.

'Naughty' is probably not a word ever used in a hymn text outside, perhaps, some for Victorian-era children. Hymn texts are sometimes altered not only for theological reasons, or for modernization, but just because a generally-great poet sometimes needs a little help.

EVERTON is one of many tunes by Henry Smart, whose birthday this past Friday (October 26) has been marked a few times at this site.  Though the tune is no longer very well-known, there is nothing about it that should relegate it to forgotten status.

Four Years Ago: Saint Simon and Saint Jude

Three Years Ago: Saint Simon and Saint Jude 

Two Years Ago: Saint Simon and Saint Jude

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