Hail Ye Flowers of Martyrs
Song for the Holy Innocents
Tune: "The Brown Little Mallet"
The Kilmore Carols
Source: Joseph Ranson, “The Kilmore Carols” from The Past, no. 5 (1949), pp. 84-85.
Hail ye flowers of martyrs,
hail blossoms of heavenly spring!
Hail ye fruits of the victory obtained by Christ our King;
Hail ever blessed babies whom cruel Herod slew;
Hoping to murder Jesus he slaughtered all the crew.
The massacre was bloody, the innocents were slain,
And after all he’s baffled, his wicked hopes are vain.
His rage was thus occasioned:
he had usurped the crown,
And though he was a stranger he sat on Juda’s throne.
The seventy weeks just ended, foretold at Babylon,
All prophecies agreed that now the time was come,
When the long wished Messias his people would restore.
And the three eastern kings confirmed it more and more
Those great Indian princes who
travelled from afar,
Guided on their journey by a new glorious star.
Arrivèd now at Jerusalem, from Herod did inquire
For the young King of Jews which set his rage on fire
“We are come to adore this mighty new born Prince,
We bring him gifts of gold, of myrrh and frankincense.”
Herod straight informed himself
of Rabbis the best skilled,
In scripture or in prophecy so plainly now fulfilled,
Where is the place appointed where Christ is to appear.
They answered all in Bethlehem and this increased his fear;
However, he disguised it, and bade the monarchs go
And tell him when returning if they found all things so.
They went, they found the
Infant, they paid their homagement,
But warnèd by an angel of Herod’s ill intent,
Those kings passed by in silence and left the tyrant shunned,
Who vowed to kill the infants of all the neighbouring laid
In dread to lose his kingdom if any should escape,
Under two years old be spared no one for fear of a mistake.
How silly is poor Herod, how
much is he deceived;
This Babe with utmost joy by him should be received;
He wants no earthly kingdoms nor sceptres here bestow,
Who brings immortal crowns of glory to bestow,
He wants but to make happy men’s souls with heavenly bliss;
Keep all the rest if lawful, but only grant Him this.
But Christ was now in Egypt.
there ordered to abide,
Till vengeance reached the tyrant who miserably died,
And ye, O little angels, ye died for Christ ‘tis true;
You’ll rest in Abraham’s bosom until He dies for you.
Let Israel be redeemed, mankind be taught and then
You’ll grace His glorious triumph ascending into Heaven.
Your tragedy was piteous, like
roses nipped in bud,
Your mothers quite distracted, your cradles filled with blood,
Your savage executioners through pity scarce could wound
Such harmless little creatures, though you no pity found.
But still your fate was happy for had you lived to see
Christ’s butchers or betrayers, of them perhaps you’d be.
But now for proto-martyrship
with Stephen you may contend;
He fought for his King’s honour, His life you did defend,
For Christ you shed your blood and He supplied the will,
Stephen performed the both, but with a difference still,
You will easily agree; and pray forget not us,
That along with you we may enjoy our Dear Jesus.
Sheet Music "The Brown Little Mallet" from Ranson, "The Kilmore Carols," p. 72.
Note from Joseph Ranson:
This Carol is sung to the same air as that given for the Second Carol on Christmas Day — “Christmas Day Is Come.”
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