The stanzas below I wrote to be sung to the tune Thaxted by Gustav Holst, adapted from a section of Jupiter from his suite The Planets as a setting for the patriotic poem by Cecil Spring-Rice, I vow to Thee my Country. This exquisitely beautiful and sad melody has a special significance for me, since it was by providence used by Fra Didacus for the memorial video about our deceased knights, Thom and Marc Girard. At that time it was pointed out to me what the original lyrics where and how appropriate a choice the tune was.
Eternal rest grant to Thom and Marc, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
For your consideration:
I cast myself before Thee, Thy bondsman and Thy fool;
Thy patronage is freedom, Thy slavery my school.
I offer Thee my sword hilt and wait for Thy command
To serve among Thy servants who pledge to take a stand.
That I might die in battle, a victim of Thy love:
My wish, my prayer, my promise, thus written in my blood.
I saw the bark of Peter ride dark into the sun,
But darker still the marking of crescent, hoard and gun.
Her sails lay flat and mellow, Her men had pledged their troth,
Left hand on beaded psalter, the right to keep their oath.
The haughty fiend had counted on fear to win the day,
But Thine own breath has countered to turn the wind their way.
My Queen, to Thee be honor and praise through all Thy knights
Who toiled and bled and parted Thy martyrs robed in white.
All courtesy and prowess, all strength and gentleness,
Thy heart a pyx of virtue, Thy face all loveliness.
Then at the hour of judgment my colors Thou may see,
Thy Son upon His white steed, Thou pray to come for me.
Thank you for sharing this! I have played “The Planets” many times in my day (we just did, ‘Mars’, for the last concert) but never did I know about this adaptation with this poem. The poem is just beautiful. The link you provided showed different stanzas than what you typed. Sends chills. (“The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test.” I pray for that kind of love.)
I vow to thee, my country—
all earthly things above—
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago—
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
By the way, the entire suite “The Planets” is available free at http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/pcorecordings
I am not much into poetry so my comments will be sophmoric at best. The poem really did touch me and I can’t wait to read it to my children. Further, it made me reflect on the need for courage in the fight today and for the assistance of the Blessed Mother.
I tried to put myself on one of the ships out to face the Turks. Approaching certain doom, leaving my children and wife behind…what if I didn’t have faith? Why wouldn’t I flee and preserve my flesh for the sensual pleasures. It makes nosense to have honor or courage or anysense of decency without the light of faith to illumine the mind and conscience.
Sorry for the rambling.
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