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Songs and Hymns of the Earliest Greek Christian Poets
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THE VIRGINS' SONG.

'Ανωθεν, παρθενοι, βοης εγερσινεκρος ηχος

(Iambic metre, varied.)

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The Bridegroom cometh! overhead

The shout descending wakes the dead!

Go forth to meet the King,

The gates just entering!

Virgins, white-robed, with lamps haste eastward forth to meet Him,

Haste ye, O haste to greet Him!

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Earth's mournful bliss I left, and toys

Of wanton life, and foolish joys:

To Thee alone I cling:

Thou art my Life, my King:

Grant that I may, O Blessèd, ever close to Thee,

Thy royal beauty see!

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Thou art my wealth: for Thee I fled

All worldly lure; and upward sped;

And come in spotless dress

Of Thine own Righteousness,

With Thee to enter in the bridal chamber gates,

Where perfect bliss awaits.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Saved from the dragon's myriad wiles,

By which the simple he beguiles,

I bore the dreadful fire,

And wild beasts' savage ire;

Waiting till Thou from Heaven, O Hope of all creation,

shouldst come to my salvation!

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

My home and country for Thy sake,

And maiden dance, I did forsake,

And mother's pride and race,

And thoughts of rank and place;

For Thou, O Christ the Word, art all in all to me:

I long for naught save Thee!

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Hail! Christ the Life, unchanging Day,

Accept this humble virgin lay:

To Thee our song of praise

With heart and voice we raise!

In Thee, O Thou perfection's flower, O Word Divine,

Love, joy, mind, wisdom, shine.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

O Bride, triumphant now in light,

And clad in robes of purest white,

Sweet-breathing, sinless, free,

Ope wide the gates to me:

Sit we in self-same company near Christ above,

And sing thy marriage, Love!

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Ah me! some virgins vainly pour

Their sobs and cries outside the door:

Their lamps are quenched, and they

No burning light display:

Their error they would mend: but ah! they come too late,

And closèd is the gate.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

For they a foolish part had played,

And from the sacred pathway strayed;

Oil, they had purchased none:

Ah! wretched and undone!

Forbidden with dead lamps the home of bliss to see,

They wail their misery.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Lo! goblet filled with sweetest wine:

Drink we, O virgins, 'tis Divine;

And forth-set for our need:

Lo! this is drink indeed;

This for the guests, who to the marriage bidden are,

The Bridegroom doth prepare.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

First type, O Blessèd One, of Thee

In Abel shining bright we see:

To heaven he lifts his eyes,

Blood-dripping, and thus cries:

"Me, by my cruel brother slain, receive, O Lord,

O Thou the Eternal Word."

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Joseph, another type of Thee,

Won highest prize of purity:

Whom Thou wouldst own Thy child:

He scorned to be beguiled

By, shameless woman; stripped, he yet her wrath defied,

And straight to Thee he cried:

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

A lamb for sacrifice is sought:

A lamb-like victim Jephthah brought:

For rash-made vow he cared,

Nor virgin daughter spared:

A type, O Blessèd One, of Thy humanity,

She poured her soul to Thee:

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

In valour Judith holds high post:

The leader of the oppressing host

She smote by beauty's lure,

Herself a type all pure:

He headless lay; and unto Thee the conquering maid

Her love in song displayed:

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

The Judges twain, by passion's flame

Enkindled, and all dead to shame,

Would chaste Susannah bind

To their unhallowed mind:

To their proposals base she gave a just reply:

And raised her voice on high:

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

'Twere better far that I should die,

Than traitress be to marriage tie,

And yielding to your will

Both soul and body kill:

Base men! God's fire of wrath eternal would me seize:

Save me, O Christ, from these!

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

And he who thousands washed from sin,

Of Thy true light the bringer-in,

For virtue's cause alone

Is into prison thrown

By wicked king: and staining now the ground with gore,

He cried to Thee the more:

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

And Thy blest Mother, spotless maid,

Was thought her vows to have betrayed,

When travailing with Thee,

O Lord of purity:

And found with child of transcendental heavenly birth,

She raised her voice from earth:

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Thy saints, all eager that they may

Behold the glories of the day

Of Thine espousals high,

With holy gifts draw nigh:

For Thou, O Word, hast called them, Thou the angels' King:

White-robed to Thee they sing.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

O holy Church, O heavenly Bride,

With hymns, attending at Thy side,

We yet on earth below

Thine honour thus forth-show:

All snow-white thou, all beauteous spouse of Christ above,

All purity, all love.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Past are corruption, sickness, pain;

Nor tears shall ever flow again;

For troubles all have fled;

And death himself is dead:

And sin and folly with dark dismal train are gone,

Since grace in glory shone.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

No longer Paradise of men

Is void; for there God wills again

That man should safely dwell;

Yea, man the same who fell

Beneath the serpent's wiles: now in the promised rest,

Immortal, fearless, blest.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Thou now to heavenly places raised,

By all the virgin choir art praised,

O Bride of Heavenly King:

And song all new we sing:

With lighted torch in hand, with snow-white lilies crowned,

Thy praise in Christ we sound.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

Father of heaven, supreme in might,

Dwelling in pure eternal light

With Thine own Son most dear,

Admit--for we are here--

E'en us within the gates of life, to sing Thy love

In Thy blest courts above.

With holy feet, and lamps bright burning,

I go to meet my Lord returning.

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