And Spoke With Love

For Easter season (and today, Divine Mercy Sunday), to the tune LAND OF REST (“I Come With Joy To Meet My Lord”):

We turned from you, O living Lord,
and lost ourselves instead,
yet if you will but say the word,
we, too, rise from the dead.

Though Peter his own faith denied
and wept to feel his shame,
you asked him for his love three times
and spoke with love his name.

Though Thomas spurned what he was told,
you blessed him all the same:
your wounded hands to him you showed
and spoke with love his name.

Though Mary could not recognize
the one she'd come to claim,
you opened up her tearful eyes
and spoke with love her name.

Then speak our names, O living Lord,
and call us from our death.
Created by the spoken word,
we rise upon your breath.
The Doubting of Thomas – Google Art Project ca. 1000, in the collection of St. Sophia of Kyiv By Unknown – wAEMzKCxTh24MQ at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29119632

Thomas

I would not know you, Lord, without your wounds.
If you had risen with your skin made new,
without the marks of all that you went through,
you would not be the teacher that I knew.

And will you let me touch your hands and side,
the holes where nails were driven as you cried,
the place the spearpoint opened you up wide?
And does it hurt, remembering how you died?

I have my own wounds, weeping here with yours;
I have my pain, a lifetime full of scars.
And now I see you stand here, bruised and sore--
Oh, touch my wounds, for they were always ours.

Oh, touch my wounds, as you let me touch yours.
Be with me in my pain forevermore.
And when you come again, have mercy, Lord,
on me and all the weary, wounded world.
“The incredulity of Thomas” from an English manuscript, c.1504 By Unknown author – This image is available from the National Library of WalesYou can view this image in its original context on the NLW Catalogue, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44920993

The Myrrh Bearers

Conflating the women who went to the tomb with Mary Magdalene’s encounter. To the tune EVENTIDE (“Abide With Me”).

We watched you die; we held you, stiff and cold.
Weeping, we wrapped your limbs in linen folds.
Now will our hearts this grief forever hold,
turned into stones across your mem'ry rolled.

Now when we come, we come but to the dead;
there we can follow where you first have led.
You are forever he who wept and bled:
How can you rise again, as you had said?

Where is the joy we had when first you came?
Where can we hide our sorrow and our shame?
Where have they laid the body we would claim?
Who is this stranger calling out our name?

Lord, we have found you in the dawning day,
here where we left you, though we went astray.
Rise in our hearts and there forever stay;
made flesh again, the stones are rolled away.
Las Santas Mujeres ante la tumba de Cristo 1346 By Ferrer Bassa – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6628573

As Strong As Death

The love as strong as death
has death itself embraced,
has given up his blood and breath
our fleeing steps to trace.

He sought us, tracked us down,
relentless as the grave,
and when he saw we'd run to ground,
crept into our dark cave.

More fierce than hell's own flame,
he set himself alight.
For this and this alone he came:
to make our darkness bright.

So deep he could not drown
in any ocean's drop,
he swallowed all our torments down
until the lashes stopped.

And when the world went dark,
the sea had ceased its roar,
a pulse, a gasp, a living spark
lit up his heart once more.

The seal upon our hearts,
he lets them beat again;
the chasms holding us apart
he makes a level plain.

For Christ, as strong as death,
all death has overthrown,
has given back our hope and breath
and rolled away the stone.
Icon of the Resurrection, By Surgun100 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8724640

Day After Day

For Triduum, to the tune FINLANDIA:

Day unto day cries out the heavens' message;
night unto night makes every teaching known.
Creation's gifts, the wonders that they presage:
the words rise up from every stock and stone.
The works of God are still God's self professing
while God's own Son stands naked and alone.

Day after day, he stood before the Temple,
night after night, unfolding heaven's plan:
what all seeds know and every stone remembers,
a mercy more than all the heavens' span.
They see him now, and all Creation trembles:
He breathes his last, the Son of God made man.

Day darkens day, and all the world is weeping.
Night cries to night a sorrow without end.
The stones will shout if we are silent, sleeping,
as Abel's blood cried out when he was rent.
For he is dead, Creation in his keeping:
the Word made flesh, God's love from heaven sent.

Day after day, gone where we cannot follow;
night after night, descending to the dead,
he leads them out 'til hell is wracked and hollowed.
The stones roll back; Creation lifts its head
to see its fall in victory is swallowed!
Christ has returned, and death itself has fled!
Christ in Limbo, By Follower of Hieronymus Bosch – monsterbrains.blogspot.comhttp://collection.imamuseum.org/artwork/79340/index.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6700385

The Song of Judas

Can any water found on earth
or in the boundless sky
wash off the mark, wipe out the curse
that sent my friend to die?
He stooped to wash me of the dirt;
I lifted him on high!

What stream could ever wash me clean,
what spring renew me now?
What I have done, what I have been,
what grace relieve, and how?
When all the world my sin has seen:
my Savior, beaten, bowed.

Let heaven's river overflow
and deep to deeper call.
Too well my sin the heavens know—
then let their torrents fall!
I'll in their waves and breakers go
and sink beneath them all.

Come, heaven, in your mercy drown
the heart that can no more!
Come, send your deluge crashing down
as no flood known before,
on all below that thorny crown,
oh, let the waters pour!
In the Church of St John the Baptist, Yeovil, one stained glass window depicts Judas with a black halo. Photo By GadgetSteve – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41437843

The Gift

Through you, my Christ, all things were made:
You caused the very dust,
paved it with grasses' fragile blades,
and out of it dug us.

We came to be at your command,
set stirring by your breath.
All that we have is from your hand,
all things except our death.

All else is yours already, Lord;
we've nothing of our own
except the keen edge of the sword,
the blunt force of the stone.

The bitten apple taught us these,
and on their wings we fly.
The makers of mortalities,
we tempted you to try:

“If you would claim us for yourself
and truly rule in all,
come down, O God, to taste our death
and plummet through our fall.”

So, wonder of all worlds, you did.
You stooped, as falcons dive:
in mortal flesh your godhead hid,
your spirit bound in gyves.

You took the gift we offered you—
no mortal can say how.
You made our only making new,
and at your name we bow

for you, O Son of God, you died
and broke what we had graved.
The sword has keened; the stones have cried,
for you our death have braved.
Adam and Eve, 1920, By Franz Von Stuck – Franz Von Stuck, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23032696

The Broken Jar

When he was in Bethany reclining at table 

in the house of Simon the leper, 

a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil,

costly genuine spikenard.

She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.

There were some who were indignant.

“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?

It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages 

and the money given to the poor.”

They were infuriated with her.

Jesus said, “Let her alone.

Why do you make trouble for her?

She has done a good thing for me.

The poor you will always have with you, 

and whenever you wish you can do good to them, 

but you will not always have me.

She has done what she could.

She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.

Amen, I say to you,

wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,

what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Mark 14
I hoard my treasures, day by day,
but all my work will have one wage:
All that I hold will go its way
by sickness, violence, war, or age.

So everything I bring you, Lord—
the costly oil and sweet perfume
that on your body I have poured—
are but the treasures of the tomb.

Take, then, my sorrow and my love,
as you have taken human flesh
and left the riches up above
to take our suffering and death,

keep them, my love, against the day
that you will sink into the ground.
My heart goes with you on the way
until I go, in linen bound.

As if the gift were rich and rare
that is the doom of all who're born,
I take the excess with my hair
against the day I'm left forlorn.

I bear the fragrance of your death:
The precious airs of myrrh and nard
perfume my each remaining breath,
all flowing from a broken jar.
Anointing of Jesus By Dieric Bouts – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3134261

Swords and Clubs

At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.

One of the bystanders drew his sword,

struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear.

Jesus said to them in reply,

“Have you come out as against a robber, 

with swords and clubs, to seize me?

Mark 14:1-15:47
They come for you with clubs and swords,
so we draw ours—the ancient way—
but, meek before these earthly lords,
Christ tells us, “Put your swords away.”

Oh, we would fight for you, great God!
And we would triumph in your name!
The hand that strikes you with the rod,
we strike it off, to spare your shame.

But this is not the peace you sow—
Lord, we have ears but have not heard!
A lamb before the shears you go
and utter not a single word.

This is the ancient war you wage:
The only sword you draw is death,
and with it calm the storms of rage
and pass away, a fading breath.

Oh, touch our ears to hear at last
the words you tell us still today,
to turn from all our violence, lest
the violent bear us all away.
The Arrest of Christ, c. 1450-1460, By Dieric Bouts – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14882508

Annunciation 2021

How is it that today alone
I look on what has always been?
Such grace was never to me shown—
I looked before, but had not seen.

But now I hear the call to start
in every breath the silence brings.
How did the darkness on my heart
become the shadow of your wings?

Each moment asks me once again
if I will be as you have said;
each pulse that beats, I breathe, “Amen,”
and I will do 'til I am dead.

If only I had always heard;
if only I had always seen—
but now you've given me your Word
that ever shall be and has been.

O God, do not take him from me,
but let me ever hear that voice
that stings more fiercely than the bee,
more sweetly than all honeyed joys!

But if you do, if he should go,
then honed and hollowed, still I'd say
what I have known, I yet will know.
Though light were flown, I see the day.
Annunciation in miniature By Unknown author – http://staff.xu.edu/~tan/links/Islam-1.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4005509