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Friday, April 02, 2010

A DEVOTION ON THE SYMBOLS OF THE PASSION

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Bodleian MS. (XVth century}

THE VERNACLE
O vernacle, I honour him and thee,
That thee made through his privity;
The cloth he set upon his face,
The print he left there by his grace,
His mouth, his nose, and his eyes two,
His beard, his hair, he left also.
Shield me for all that in my life
I have misdone by my wits five,
With mouth of hate and slandering,
Of false oaths and of backbiting;
For wicked boastful tongue also,
And all sins I have done and do:
Lord of heaven, forgive thou me,
Through sight of thy face that here I see.

THE KNIFE OF CIRCUMCISION
this knife betokens circum­cision,
Thus he destroyed all trans­gression,
Of Adam, who our sin began,
Whereby we take our stamp of man;
From tempting of impurity
Be my succour when I shall die

THE PELICAN
the Pelican his blood did bleed,
Therewith his nestlings for to feed.
This tokeneth how on the Rood
Our Lord us nourished with his blood,
When he did rescue us from hell,
In joy and bliss with him to dwell,
To be our Father and our food,
And we his childer meek and good.

THE THIRTY PENCE
the Pence also that Judas told,
For which Lord Jesu Christ was sold,
Shield us from reason and avarice,
Therein to fall not anywise


THE LANTERN
the Lantern where they bare the light,
When Christ was taken in the night,
May it light me from nightly sin,
That I be never taken therein.

THE SWORDS AND STAVES
swords and Staves that they did bear.
Of which our Jesu might have fear,
From friends, good Lord, pre­serve they me,
Of them afeard that I not be.

THE REEDS
Christ was stricken with a Reed,
Wherewith the Jews did break his head;
He suffered all in meekest mood,
With patient mien he silent stood:
When I do wrong or wrong sustain,
Grant pardon, Lord, by this thy pain.


THE HAND OF THE SMITER
the Hand, O Lord, that tore thine hair.
The Hand that smote thee on the ear,
Be its sore smart my succour there,
When I do wrong through pride of ear;
And of all other sin also,
That with mine ears I have hearkened to.

THE RODS AND SCOURGES
with great Rods wast thou sorely dashed.
And with the smarting Scourge wast lashed;
Lord, grant that I thee ne'er . _
displease By sins of sloth and idleness.

THE CROWN OF THORN
the Crown of Thorn on thy head prest,
To tear thine hair, thy skin to burst;
Shield me, I pray, from hell's dark pit,
That I err not by foolish wit.


THE PILLAR AND THE CORD
To the Pillar, Lord, also,
With a Rope they bound thee, too:
Thy sinews from thy bones did burst,
So hard 'twas drawn and strained fast;
Lord, loose me from the bitter thong
Of unkind act and word of wrong.

THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE SAVIOUR
When he went forth by the
Gate of Jerusalem, bearing his Cross
and crowned with his Crown of Thorns;
he went in this guise a full mile,
letting fall red blood.
Thou bar'st thy Cross, and passed that Day
Out at Jerusalem's gate-way;
And all thy footsteps sweet and good
Were marked by shedding of thy blood.
Thou met'st with women of Bethlehem,
And also of Jerusalem:
And they all wept thy woe to see:
But thou said'st to them openly:
" Nay, weep ye not for this my woe,
But for your children weep also:
For them indeed ye may weep sore,
And tears of salt for them outpour;
For they shall suffer torment hard
An hundred winters afterward."
Lord, may thy steps for us bring grace,
When forth we go with prayerful pace,
On pilgrimage, on horse or foot,
And all my sins do thou outroot.

THE NAILS
the Nails through feet and hands two
Help they me out of sin and woe.
That I have yet in my life done,
Handled with hands, or on feet
gone.

THE HAMMER
the Hammer that was stern and great,
That drave the nails through hands and feet, Be they mine aid in all my life,
If I be struck with staff or knife.


THE GALL AND VINEGAR
the cup of Vinegar and Gall,
May it preserve me from sins all,
That to the soul are venom fell,
That I may shun the poison of hell.



THE SPONGE
when thou thirsted sore withal
They gave thee vinegar and gall;
If e'er I drank in gluttony
Forgive me, Lord, before I die.



THE SPEAR
lord, the Spear so sharply ground,
That in thy heart made savage wound:
Quench it the sin that I have wrought,
Or evil that my heart has thought,
And all my foolish pride thereto,
And disobedience also.

THE LADDER
the Ladder 'gainst the Rood upstaid
To take thee down when thou wert dead,
If I be dead in any sin,
Spare Lord, that I should die therein.






THE TONGS

the Tongs that drew the sharp nails out,
From feet and hands with drag­ging stout,
And loosed thy body from the Tree,
May they of all my sins loose me.



THE SEPULCHRE
the Sepulchre wherein was laid
Thy blessed body all out-bled.
May it bring me before I die
Sorrow at heart and tears in eye.
Clean and spotless be mine end,
When that I to my grave wend;
So that I may on Judgement Day
Come to thy doom without affray,
And reach my bliss in company
Wherein no man shall ever die,
But dwell in joy with Jesu bright,
Where day is aye and never night,
That shall last without an end:
Now Jesu Christ us thither send ! Amen.
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