The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Thou, Whom Before the Rest

St. John The Evangelist's Day: At Midnight.

The Lord Himself is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot.—Psalm xvi.

Latin Text: Tu quem prae reliquis Christus amaverat

Source: Isaac Williams, Hymns Translated from the Parisian Breviary (London: J.G.F. & J. Rivington, 1839), pp. 64-66.

    Thou, whom before the rest,
    The love of Jesus bless'd; 
Thou darling of the Incarnate Deity, 
    Sharer of all His woes,
    Friend of His dying throes, 
Eye-witness of His awful sovereignty. 

    Too favour'd thou of Heav'n,
    Oh thou, to whom 'twas given 
To touch with mortal hand th' immortal Lord; 
    With mortal ear and eye
    To hear and see him nigh, 
And hold high converse with th' eternal Word. 

    How mighty was the boon, 
    When oft to thee alone 
Thy Lord in love His secret soul display'd,— 
    When on His mountain-throne 
    To thee reveal'd He shone, 
Full God, full man in Deity array'd. 

    Thou, as on Jesus' breast
    All peaceful thou dost rest, 
Drink'st of the living streams of Deity.
    Whilst on thy cleansed sense
    With silent influence 
More closely steals His dread Divinity. 

    Oh cup too full, too high,
    For poor mortality! 
Thy raptur'd spirit fled its laggard clay. 
    Say,—when in calm repose
    Thy tranced eye-lids close, 
To what bright dreams of Heav'n they waken, say.

    Oh access dread, oh bliss
    Of mutual love, ere this 
To every soul in every age unknown! 
    When such the altar-fire,
    That lights thy pure desire, 
What countless rays it scatters from its throne! 

    Hence art thou ever prov'd
    Loving, and ever lov'd; 
Hence thy bright brow, and virgin modesty; 
    Hence all that heavenly beam,
    That Angels might beseem, 
Pour'd round thy head, a circling galaxy. 

    Hence o'er and o'er again
    Thy thrice-repeated strain, 
Whate'er thou say'st,'' 'tislove, 'tis love requires."
    Scarce doth the struggling soul
    Her ecstasy control, 
But bursts her bonds, and vents her holy fires.

    Glory on high to Thee,
    Holy, eternal Three, 
Father and Son and Holy Spirit blest! 
    Lo, this the stedfast law,
    The stedfast faith we draw, 
From out Thy sacred fount by Heaven's own hand express'd.

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