The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Great God What Terror Fills The Eye

For The Octave of the Ascension
And For the Second Advent

Words: Sensus quis horror percutit? Latin Hymn by Jean Baptiste de Santeüil (1630-1697), Cluniac Breviary, 1686, with notes
Translation by William Palmer

Music: Not Stated

Source: William Palmer, Short Poems and Hymns, the Latter Mostly Translations (I. Shrimpton, 1845), #XIX, pp. 50-51.

1. Great God what terror fills the eye
The vault of heav'n is cleft on high—
And downward streams upon the sight
A point—a flash—a blaze of light !

2. No comet this, — no meteor-star,
No wandering sun, that burns afar:—
The point first seen a line extends,
The line still broadens, and descends.

3. Long e'er the sun on earth should rise,
That light has pierc'd the eastern skies;
And e'er the sun on earth be ris'n,
It verges to the western heav'n.

4. So all the tribes of earth by turn
Behold the approaching glory burn,
Which shews, more near, and visible,
A pomp of light insufferable.

5. It is! He comes upon the cloud,
And all Heaven's hosts surround their God;
As when ascending up on high
He captive led captivity

6. The trumpet sounds; the graves restore
The bones which they contained before;
And angel guards to judgment lead
From the four winds the awaken'd dead.

7. Part on the right are bid to stand ;
Part are repell'd to the left hand:
The Shepherd knows the flock, and well
His sheep from out the goats will tell.

8. Assessors at the Judge's side
Sit they, who have themselves denied ;
They, who left all to follow Thee,
O Christ, their God, in poverty.

9. The Cross, to Israel shamefulness,
The Cross, to Gentile foolishness,
Now beams aloft in upper air,
A sign of triumph or despair.

10. Him, Whom they nail'd unto the tree,
They now return’d in glory see ;
Sight to the good of joy and grace,
Of terror to the guilty race.

11. Keep us, O Christ, unsoil'd, and free
From all the world's impurity
Keep us from sinners separate,
Lest we partake their evil fate!

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