Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences/Attolle paullum lumina
Attolle paullum lumina.
The following hymns are clearly of the very latest date: certainly not earlier than the sixteenth, it may be the beginning of the seventeenth, century. Their intensely subjective character would be a sufficient proof of this: and their rhyme equally shows it. Feminine double rhymes, in almost all mediæval hymns, are reserved for trochaic measures;—their use, as here, in iambics, gives a certain impression of irreverence which it is hard to get over. Notwithstanding the wide difference between these and mediæval hymns, they possess, I think, considerable beauty: and perhaps will be more easily appreciated by modern readers.
Raise, raise thine eyes a little way,
O sinful man discerning
Thy sins, how great and foul are they,
And to repentance turning:
On the Crucified One look,—
Thou shalt read as in a book,
What well is worth thy learning.
Look on the Head, with such a Crown
Of bitter thorns surrounded;
Look on the Blood that trickles down
The Feet and Hands thus wounded!
Let that frame thy tears engage,
Marking how Judæa's rage
And malice hath abounded.
But though upon Him many a smart
Its bitterness expendeth,
Yet more,—oh how much more!—His Heart
Man's thankless spirit rendeth!
On the Cross, bewailed by none,
Mark, O man, how Mary's Son
His life of sorrow endeth.
None ever bare such grief, alas,
None ever such affliction,
As when Judæa brought to pass
His bitter crucifixion:
He, that we might dwell on high,
Bare the pangs that made Him die
In oft-renewed infliction.
O therefore Satan's wiles repel,
And yield not to temptation!
Think on the woes that Christ befell
In working thy salvation!
For, if He had never died,
What could thee and all betide
But uttermost damnation?
If thus He bled, that Only Son
The Father held so dearly,
Thou wicked servant, faithless one,
O how much more severely!
If the green wood kindled, how
Shall not every sapless bough
Consume as fuel merely!
O mortal! heed these terrors well!
O sinner, flee from sinning!
Consider thou the woes of hell,
Ne'er ending, still beginning:
Bender thanks to Christ on high:
Thus with Him beyond the sky
Eternal glory winning. Amen.
[Inserted in Hymns Ancient and Modern, with the alteration of the two trochaic into iambic lines; an improvement on the original metre.]