Monday, December 28, 2015

The Feast of the Holy Innocents

By all your saints still striving,
For all your saints at rest,
Your holy name, O Jesus,
Forevermore be blessed!
For those passed on before us,
We sing our praise anew
And, walking in their footsteps,
Would live our lives for you.

Praise for the infant martyrs,
Whom you, with tenderest love,
Called early from the conflict
To share your home above.
O Rachel! cease your weeping,
They rest from pains and cares;
God, grant us hearts as guileless,
And crowns as bright as theirs.

We pray for saints we know not,
For saints still yet to be,
For grace to bear true witness
And serve you faithfully,
Till all the ransomed number
Who stand before the throne
Ascribe all power and glory
And praise to God alone. 

Horatio Bolton Nelson, 1864; alt.
William Lloyd, 1840

Today is set aside on the calendar to mark the Feast of the Holy Innocents, those children around Bethlehem who were murdered on King Herod's orders in Matthew 2:13-18.  That passage quotes earlier verses from Jeremiah 31:15-17 (another reading for the day), which include the reference to Rachel weeping for her children (explained here).

An anthem for the day which I particularly like is In Rama was there a voice heard, which is from Arthur Sullivan's oratorio The Light of the World.  It's no longer heard often, at least partly because church choirs frequently vanish for a time after Christmas.

We've now completed a full church year and calendar year using this hymn by Horatio Bolton Nelson with its numerous middle stanzas for the different saints' days of the year.

You can revisit the ones that I've used (each with a different tune) at these links:

The Conversion of Saint Paul

Saint Matthew

Saint Luke

Saint Simon and Saint Jude

The Feast of All Saints

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