April 25, 2014

Poem: Easter (Most Glorious Lord of Lyfe!)

Stained Glass - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Easter is a sonnet by the 16th century English poet: Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599). Composed on Easter Sunday 1594, it is Sonnet 68 of Spenser's Amoretti: a sonnet cycle which chronicles his courtship and eventual marriage to Elizabeth Boyle within a liturgical context. It's 89 sonnets correspond to the sequential order of scriptual readings in the Book of Common Prayer from January 23 to May 17 of that year, each poem a meditation upon that day's particular theme; in this case: divine love. Spenser and his betrothed were married in June of that year. In the Divine Office (1974), Easter is included in the Religious Poems Appendix for Lent and Easter.


EASTER (Amoretti 68) by Edmund Spenser, 1594 (Public Domain)

Most glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day,
     Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
     And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away
     Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;
     And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,
     Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
     May live for ever in felicity!
And that Thy love we weighing worthily,
     May likewise love Thee for the same againe;
     And for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy,
     With love may one another entertain!
So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.

Choral setting by William Henry Harris (1883-1973)

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