Saturday, December 27, 2008


On December 28th, the followers of Christ remember the slaughter of the innocents at the hand of Herod in Bethlehem, and offer prayers for all children who suffer on earth. The following hymn, written in Latin by Bede in the 8th century reflects upon the holy innocents.

A Hymn for Martyrs sweetly sing;

For Innocents your praises bring;
Of whom in tears was earth bereaved,
Whom heaven with songs of joy received;

Whose Angels see the Father's face
World without end, and hymn His grace;
And, while they praise their glorious King,
A hymn for Martyrs sweetly sing.

A voice from Ramah was there sent,
A voice of weeping and lament,
While Rachel mourned her children sore,
Whom for the tyrant's sword she bore.

After brief taste of earthly woe
Eternal triumph now they know;
For whom, by cruel torments rent,
A voice from Ramah was there sent.

And every tear is wiped away
By your dear Father's hands for aye:
Death hath no power to hurt you more;
Your own is life's eternal shore.

And all who, good seed bearing, weep,
In everlasting joy shall reap,
What time they shine in heavenly day,
And every tear is wiped away.

Hymnum canentes martyrum, The Venerable Bede, 673-735
Translated by Joan Mason Neale, 1818-1866
Drawing by Agostino Carracci, Italian, Madonna and Child, c.1580

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