The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The World Is Very Evil

For Advent, For Second Advent

Words: Excerpted from Hora Novissima, Bernard of Cluny, twelfth century;
trans. John Mason Neale, 1858

Music: Pearsall
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer
Meter: 76 76 D

1. The world is very evil,
the times are waxing late,
be sober and keep vigil,
the Judge is at the gate.
The Judge who comes in mercy,
the Judge who comes in might,
who comes to end the evil,
who comes to crown the right.

2. Arise, arise, good Christian,
let right to wrong succeed;
let penitential sorrow
to heavenly gladness lead,
to light that has no evening,
that knows nor moon nor sun,
the light so new and golden,
the light that is but one.

3. O home of fadeless splendor,
of flowers that bear no thorn,
where they shall dwell as children
who here as exiles mourn!
'Midst power that knows no limit,
where wisdom has no bound,
The beatific vision
shall glad the saints around.

4. O happy, holy portion,
reflection for the blest,
true vision of true beauty,
true cure of the distressed!
Strive, man, to win that glory;
toil, man, to gain that light;
send hope before to grasp it,
till hope be lost in sight.


John Mason Neale's Hora Novissima, a translation of an excerpt from St. Bernard's De Contemptu Mundi (ca. 1145), was the source of at least four modern hymns including "Jerusalem The Golden," "The World Is Very Evil," "Brief Life is Here Our Portion," and "For Thee, O Dear, Dear Country."

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