Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences/Heri mundus exultavit

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Heri mundus exultavit.

A Sequence for S. Stephen's Day: according to some, Adam's masterpiece. It was not in my first edition.

Yesterday, with exultation
Join'd the world in celebration
Of her promis'd Saviour's birth;
Yesterday the Angel nation
Pour'd the strains of jubilation
O'er the Monarch born on earth.

But to-day, o'er death victorious,
By his faith and actions glorious,
By his miracles renown'd,
Dared the Deacon Protomartyr
Earthly life for Heav'n to barter,
Faithful midst the faithless found.

Forward, champion, in thy quarrel!
Certain of a certain laurel,
Holy Stephen, persevere!
Perjur'd witnesses confounding,
Satan's Synagogue astounding
By thy doctrine true and clear.

Lo! in Heaven thy Witness liveth:
Bright and faithful proof He giveth
Of His Martyr's blamelessness:
Thou by name a Crown impliest;
Meetly then in pangs thou diest
For the Crown of Righteousness!

For a crown that fadeth never,
Bear the torturer's brief endeavour;
Victory waits to end the strife:
Death shall be thy birth's beginning,
And life's losing be the winning
Of the true and better Life.

Whom the Holy Ghost endueth,
Whom celestial sight embueth,
Stephen penetrates the skies;
There Good's fullest glory viewing,
There his victor strength renewing,
For his near reward he sighs.

See, as Jewish foes invade thee,
See how Jesus stands to aid thee:
Stands to guard His champion's death:[1]
Cry that opened Heaven is shown thee:
Cry that Jesus waits to own thee:
Cry it with thy latest breath!

As the dying Martyr kneeleth,
For his murderers he appealeth,
And his prayer their pardon sealeth,
For their madness grieving sore;
Then in Christ he sleepeth sweetly,
Who His pattern kept completely,
And with Christ he reigneth meetly,
Martyr first-fruits, evermore![2] Amen.

  1. Our Lord's standing at the right Hand of the Father, here and here only, as a Friend to sympathise, as a champion to help, is continually dwelt on by mediæval writers.
  2. There are four additional, but very poor, verses.