Monday, 24 February 2014

My mother's carols

My sister has just managed to find a copy of a Carol book which has a couple of carols written by my late mother in it.

Here is one.  It is sung to the tune of Let all mortal flesh keep silence, but without the repeat of the first line of melody.  That apparently is how it was originally written (a Picardy carol tune) and the editor commissioned my mother to write a lyric that honoured that. (In the book, the editor notes: The association of this tune with a solemn eucharistic hymn in English hymn books should not prejudice its interpretation here: it is a French peasant carol and should be sung simply and more or less in speech rhythm).  

For myself, I find it almost impossible to sing the tune without the repeated first line.

Anyway, here is my mother's lyric: 

God in highest heaven seeing 
All man's bitter grief and shame
Laid aside his power, his majesty, his bliss, 
To the rescue swiftly came.

God the Son, the Word eternal
Made himself a man on earth,
Entering a world that he himself had made
Through the lowly gate of birth.

There the baby lay in a manger
For his mother had no bed
Thirty years went by, and still the Son of God
Had no place to lay his head.

Yet he did not rest till, testing
Every depth of utter loss,
He, the Lord, was hanging, nailed through hands and feet
Stripped and dead upon a cross.

Jesus, Master, King of glory, 
Teach us loving you alone,
With a joyous will to follow you in peace
By the road that you have shown.


Requiescat in pace


Patricius said...

Excellent verses that deserve singing but I think that I too would struggle with the "Picardy" tune without that repeated first line.

Perhaps it might be worth looking for a different tune.

Ttony said...

"Thirty years went by, and still the Son of God
Had no place to lay his head."

I think I know what point your mother was making, but there is an arresting image of St Joseph as a journeyman carpenter, a perpetual nomad with his wife and son; with Nazareth as a sort of base, but with most of the life of the family on the road. How that speaks to our times.

Ben Trovato said...


Given that my mother wrote the lyric specifically for this tune, I don't feel I can do that. I am repeatedly singing the words to the Picardy melody, and gradually weaning myself off the repeat.

Filial piety, I suppose...

Ben Trovato said...


I think your image is completely congruent with what my mother wrote.