Apropos of Corpus Christi, Ascension Sacristan Thom Ehlen recently shared with me the following anthem text by Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). Thom, in turn, had heard the anthem offered by the St. James' Cathedral choir at a Choral Evensong on June 2. If you don't make it all the way through the text, do scroll down to appreciate the artwork below
- Fr. Raymond +
Lo, the full, final sacrifice
On which all figures fix'd their eyes,
The ransom'd Isaac, and his ram;
The Manna, and the Paschal lamb.
Jesu Master, just and true!
Our Food, and faithful Shepherd too!
O let that love which thus makes thee
Mix with our low Mortality,
Lift our lean Souls, and set us up
Convictors of thine own full cup,
Coheirs of Saints. That so all may
Drink the same wine; and the same way.
Nor change the Pasture, but the Place
To feed of Thee in thine own Face.
O dear Memorial of that Death
Which lives still, and allows us breath!
Rich, Royal food! Bountiful Bread!
Whose use denies us to the dead!
Live ever Bread of loves, and be
My life, my soul, my surer self to me.
Help Lord, my Faith, my Hope increase;
And fill my portion in thy peace.
Give love for life; nor let my days
Grow, but in new powers to thy name and praise.
Rise, Royal Sion! rise and sing
Thy soul's kind shepherd, thy heart's King.
Stretch all thy powers; call if you can
Harps of heaven to hands of man.
This sovereign subject sits above
The best ambition of thy love.
Lo the Bread of Life, this day's
Triumphant Text provokes thy praise.
The living and life-giving bread,
To the great twelve distributed
When Life, himself, at point to die
Of love, was his own Legacy.
O soft self-wounding Pelican!
Whose breast weeps Balm for wounded man.
All this way bend thy benign flood
To a bleeding Heart that gasps for blood.
That blood, whose least drops sovereign be
To wash my worlds of sins from me.
Come love! Come Lord! and that long day
For which I languish, come away.
When this dry soul those eyes shall see,
And drink the unseal'd source of thee.
When Glory's sun faith's shades shall chase,
And for thy veil give me thy Face.
The text above includes this address: 'O soft self-wounding Pelican.' It is a reference to Christ, often represented as a pelican in Medieval (and later) artworks, including the one above for which I can't find a citation but feel compelled to share here. One of many similar explanations that can be found via Internet search (this one from an Anglican diocese in Australia) explains that the symbol of the self-wounding pelican: "
hearkens back to medieval days and animal bestiary myths of the 12th century and goes by the name of the 'vulning pelican' or the 'pelican-in-her-piety'. It was once believed that Pelicans were particularly devoted to their young, and that a pelican would wound its own breast ('vulning') to feed its young its blood. From this belief the vulning pelican came to symbolise the passion of Jesus and the Eucharist, as an image of Christ's redemptive sacrifice." It is now well-known that a pelican's 'vulning' behavior is not self-wounding but a means by which a pelican discharges the last bits of fish in its bill, some of which fall on its breast and are there consumed by the hungry young.