Most old english pieces of literature and manuscript origins, authorship and early history are quite unknown. I particularly liked and picked up an “old English poetry” book from Scarborough library that I am absolutely loving. Sometimes I feel like it is a bit more eloquent than I could ever be! But my interest in English Literature is widening, and I especially like poems that have a biblical sense to it.
This book is made up of different ‘books’, for example, there is the Vercelli book, and the Exeter book, which has meaning behind the words.
It is a broad view of Anthology of British Literature, and there is a complete range of lyrics that I decided to pick ones I like and share them with you.
“this to the radiant lady, to the one so ingenious they gave. And Judith devoted it all to the glorious God of high hosts who’d given her honour on earth, renown in the worldly realm, with reward in heaven to come, triumph in splendour on high, thanks to her true belief, her faith in the Almighty forever. In the end there could be no doubt about the reward she’d cherished so long. For this to our Lord so dear be there glory forever arrayed. Air and the lofty wind He made, rolling sky and roomy ground, rushing streams all tumbling down, and, through His bounty of merciful love, bliss in His heaven above.”
I really wondered about this “judith” as there is no Judith mentioned in the bible, but there is a book of Judith in the Apocryhpa in the Protestant Bible, which tells the story of a pious Hebrew widow, and she rescues the people of the besieged city of Bethulia. So, that will leave a bit of enlightenment on the subject.
-The Fates of the Apostles-
“So let the man be mindful, whoever might enjoy the course of my song, that he ask for comfort and aid for me. I must journey far away, go forth alone to seek a foreign land, set out on a journey far away, I myself know not where, away from this world. Its houses are unknown, the land and realm, as it will be for every man unless he have a share in the Spirit of God.
So let us more eagerly cry out to God to send us His blessing in this bright creation, that we may have a place in those halls, homes on high, where is the highest bliss, where the King of angels crowns pure souls with an imperishable reward. His praise stands forever, great and glorious, and His might abides, eternal and ageless, over all creation.”
“The noble princes said in reply, young in speech and in spiritual insight;We can easily tell you, Andreas, of our journey, so that you may yourself wisely understand it in your inward heart. Wearied by the sea, sleep overcame us; Then came eagles over the crest of the waves soaring in flight, exulting in their feathers. They drew forth our souls as we lay sleeping, and bore them through the breeze in flight, rejoicing with joyful noise, bright and calm. They showed their love lightly and lived in praise; there was endless song and soaring in the heavens, beautiful throng of hosts and celestial bands. All around that noble Lord the angels stood, thanes around their Prince, a thousandfold, praised in the height with holy voices, the Lord of Lords, in hope and delight. We recognised the holy high patriarchs, and no small band of martyrs, singing righteous praise to the Prince of victories, a troop eager for glory. There was David in their midst, blessed champion, son of Jesse, King of Israel, come before Christ. Likewise we saw you all standing there twelve in number, eternally noble, your glory never failing, before the Son of God. And there, sitting in glory, you were served by holy archangels. It will be well for those heroes allowed to enjoy that bliss. The joy of glory was there, warriors in splendour, noble ceremony, no sorrow or strife. Exile is ordained and torment lies open for any who become alien to these joys – they will wander wretched when they go hence.
Then the heart of the holy man was greatly gladdened in his breast, when he heard the stories of his young companions, that God would honour them so much over all other men, and the protector of warriors said these words: Now I have understood that you were never far from us, O Lord God, on the long sea-road, when I climbed onto the ship, King of Glory, even though, Prince of Angels, I did not perceive it on the sea-voyage, O Saviour of souls. Be merciful to me now, almighty Creator, O radiant King! On the ocean streams I spole a great many words, but now I know who bore me in honour in a wooden boat across the sea’s flood. He is the Spirit of comfort to the race of men: there is ready help, mercy from His greatness given to every man, mighty prosperity for those who seek it of Him.”
Poems from the Vercelli book
“Then I prayed to the tree with a happy heart, eagerly, there where I was alone with little company. My spirit longed to start on the journey forth; it has felt so much of longing. It is now my life’s hope that I may seek the tree of victory alone, more often than all men, and honour it well. I wish for that with all my heart, and my hope of protection is fixed on the cross. I have few wealthy friends on earth; they all have gone forth, fled from worldly joys and sought the King of glory; they live now in heaven with the High Father, and dwell in glory, and each day I look forward to the time when the cross of the Lord, on which I have looked while here on this earth, will fetch me from this loaned life, and bring me where there is great bliss, joy in heaven, where the Lord’s host is rated at the feast, with ceaseless bliss; and then set me where I may afterwards dwell in glory, have a share of joy fully with the saints. May the Lord be my friend, He who here on earth once suffered on the hanging-tree for human sin; He ransomed us and gave us life, a heavenly home. Hope was renewed with cheer and bliss for those who were burning there. The Son was successful in that journey, mighty and victorious, when he came with a multitude, a great host of souls, into God’s kingdom, the one Ruler almighty, the angels rejoicing and all the saints already in heaven dwelling in glory, when almighty God, their ruler, returned to his rightful home.”
From the book of Daniel
“Let the beauty of the world and all its works give you blessing, most gracious Father! The heavens above, the angels, the bright waters that dwell gloriously by your great decree above the heavens, all these praise you!
Let all creation, Almighty God, praise you – the shining planets in their courses, the sun and moon, let each separately praise you in its own way. Let heaven’s stars, dew and rainstorm, give you glory.
Let the souls of men praise you, mighty God. Burning fire and bright summer praise the Saviour! Both day and night, and every land, light and darkness, heat and cold, praise you in its own degree.
And frost and snow, winter fierce and scurrying clouds, praise you from the skies, Lord almighty. The flash of lightening, bright glittering instant, gives you blessing.
All the surface of earth, eternal Lord, hills and plains and high mountains, the salty sea-waves and ocean streams, righteous Creator, and the rising up of springs of water, all these praise you.
Whales bless you, and birds of the heavens that soar aloft, and those that stir the ocean streams, the wide sea, and let wild creatures and every beast bless your name!
And let the sons of men love you in their hearts, and let the sons of men love you in their hearts, and let Israel praise you, Lord of all possessions, your servants, in their own degree.
And let the heartfelt intentions of holy men, the spirits and souls of the just, give praise to the Lord of life, who grants reward to all, the eternal Lord.
Let Annanias, and Azarias, and Mishael praise the Maker in the thoughts of their breast! We bless you, Master of every nation, Father almighty, and true Son of the creator, Saviour of souls, helper of mankind, and you, Holy Spirit, we worship and glorify, Wise Lord!
We give you praise, and extol you in prayer, O Holy Lord. Truly you are blessed, worshipped forever above the world’s roof, high king of Heaven, in your holy might, author of light and life, in every land!”
From the book of Exodus
“Then the lord of the living lifted up his voice and spoke before the army to all the nation: Behold! Most beloved of people, now you see with your own eyes a most awesome wonder, now with this green rod in my right hand I myself have struck the depths of the sea: the waves ascend, and swiftly the waters form a sturdy wall. The ways are dry, a glistening road, the deep has revealed its ancient foundations, where no man before, as I have heard tell, has ever traveled, mottled plains which always remain forever hidden by the foaming waves. A south wind, breath of the ocean, has unsealed the sea’s depths, the waves are split, the surf churns out sand. Well I know that almighty God has shown mercy to you, happy as in days of old. Now hurry that you may escape the embrace of your enemies, now that the Ruler has raised up red sea – streams as a sheltering rampart. The retaining walls of this wondrous wave-road are fairly raised to the roof of the heavens.”
“With these words, all the host arose a courageous force. The sea lay calm; upon the sand the hand-picked troops raised their banners and bright shields. The sea-wall stood upright alongside the Israelites for an entire day. That troop of earls was of one mind, kept their covenant in close embrace – they did no despise their dear lord’s holy teaching, when his sweet words were still and his voice silent by their path through the sea.”
“Listen, far and wide throughout the world we have learned how the law of Moses, a marvellous code, were proclaimed to men – a happy reward in heaven above for every blessed soul’s hard struggle, a lasting counsel for all the living, heavenly life – let him hear who will!”
“He was exalted in the wilderness, where the Lord of Hosts, the righteous King, endowed him with His own power and put mighty deeds into his hands. Beloved of God, lord of his people, canny and wise, commander of armies, a famous leader – but Pharaoh, God’s enemy, he bound with a rod, and all his race.”
Seasons for fasting
“In ancient days the people of Israel were enlightened and instructed by Moses the mighty teacher, when the Lord of life, here in this life, set him before the people by His own word, Heaven’s high king, to counsel men, and Himself shared secrets with him, how he should teach the true way to his dear nation.
Then the nation’s leader followed the lore of Heaven’s high king, and the people too, as they had been taught in that nation; and if they took up some twisted work, the God of victories sent down affliction as a reward from heaven, and they at once pleaded for peace, and quickly found it, if they would let go of their grasp on sin.
Many are the great works which this glorious nation carried out in its conquering warfare, as long as they loved the Lord of life; but their end was wretched and pitiful, when they ensnared the Lord himself, set him on a tree, and in a tomb condemned him; there he was hidden, and appeared to the people on the third day.
We have heard that many heroes have written in their books and proclaimed that they held four seasons of fasts, when they offered a beast without blemish, a lamb or calf, as a sign to the Beloved who was himself spotless before the world.
But the Ruler of Life proceeded to rise from the grave, filled with glory, and sought His home among Heaven’s citizens, a land among angels, and to us all holds out the hope of joy, if we will follow his teaching with true hearts. None filled with evil can enter there, not mired in sin – he must hasten to his fate.
Now let us praise here in this life the beloved Doer of deeds, and for Him fill our count of days with gifts of alms and works of fasting, as the wise Moses taught long ago, and with the English let us steadfastly keep the schedule just as it was written by the Roman prince.
Faith – Heaven’s High King
Advent (Christ I)
“O beautiful day-spring, brightest of angels sent down to earth for all mankind, radiance of the sun of righteousness, bright beyond the stars, you bring the light your very self to all times and seasons. As you, God from God, begotten of old, true Son of the Father, dwell forever without beginning in the glory of heaven, so now your handiwork in its time of need beseeches you boldly to send to us the bright sun; and you yourself come to shed your light on those who for so long have been covered in clouds and darkness here, sitting in eternal night, shrouded in sin, forced to endure the dark shadow of death.
Now, filled with hope, we believe in salvation through the word of God brought to the world, who was in the beginning God, co-eternal with the almighty Father, and then was made flesh without blemish, when the virgin bore him, a solace to the sorrowful. Among us, sinless, God was seen; together dwelled the mighty Son of God and son of man in harmony among mankind. For that we may give thanks to the God of victories by right, because he would to send Himself to us.
“O God of spirits, so wisely were you named rightly by that name “Emmanuel”, first by angels spoken in the Hebrew tongue! Its hidden sense, interpreted, is “Now God himself is with us, guardian of the skies.” So the wise ancients foretold the coming of the King of Kings, and likewise that spotless priest as well, Melchizedek the mighty one, long ago revealed, wise in spiritm the divine glory of the eternal Lord. He was a law bringer, leader and teacher for those who had long hoped for His coming, as had been promised that the son of the Creator himself would come to cleanse the people of the earth and visit the very depths below as well, through the Spirits power. Patiently they sat in bondage until the Son of God might come to the wretched; weak, tormented, they cried out: “Come now yourself, heaven’s high king. Bring salvation and life to us, weary prisoners, worn out with weeping bitter burning tears. In you alone is relief and remedy for our desperate need. Come down to us captives, sick at heart; when you hurry hence, do not leave behind such a great multitude, but show us your sovereign mercy, Christ our saviour, Prince of glory, do not leave us in the power of the cursed one. Grant us the eternal joy of your glory, glorious God of hosts, that those whom your hands have shaped may worship you. You remain forever in the highest with the Heavenly Father.”
“So they bear forth beauty into the world, the glory of God and his generous deeds, shining praise through length of days, they faithfully perform the Lord’s eternal word in their ancient seats where the Lord set them, bright guardian of Heaven; they hold firmly their great circuit. His power propels heaven’s candle and the high waves with it, the Lord of life beckons, and brings all creation into his own vast embrace. And so forever and ever glory is his, the gentlest of judges and the most citing, who made this life for us, and this bright light that comes over the misty cliffs each morning traversing the waves adorned with wonders, and at break of day dawns in the east, joyous and lovely to the generations of men; it bears forth its light for every living thing, brightest of brands, and anyone on earth can enjoy it, if the true King of victories has seen fit to give sight to his eyes.
Departing with wonder into the western sky, the most glorious star goes travelling in a troop, until in the evening it treads the edge of the outer ocean, and summons another gloom; night comes afterwards, held by the constraint of the holy Lord. Heaven’s bright clear light hastens, shining, wandering star, under the bosom of earth by God’s decree.
There is no man alive with the wisdom to know its secret origin through his own power, how the hold-bright sun passes beyond the horizon into murk and gloom under the mass of waters, or what earthly beings might enjoy that light once it departs over the edge of the sea.
And so he knit together – as he well knew how – day with night, depth with height, the sky with the sea, the shore with the streams, land and water, fishes and waves. That work never weakens, he holds it all well; it stands firm, stoutly girded with great bonds of might in the majestic power by which Heaven and earth have been raised. Those who abide in that place are blessed, a hopeful hearth-troop. That is the greatest of hosts, innumerable blessed bands of angels. Always they see their own King, gaze with their eyes, and have enough of everything. They lack for nothing, those who see the King of glory above; theirs is joy and bliss, eternal, unending, consolation to the blessed.
And so a man should strive to obey the Maker, every child of men should abandon idle lusts, life’s fleeting fancies, and hurry to true bliss, abandon every tasteful enmity, set aside old sinful deeds, and set out for that better realm.”
The gifts of men
“One is skilful in churchly services, loudly he can extol the Lord of life in hymns and praise, with his pure and bright singing voice; one is versed in books, a teacher and scholar, one has a talent for writing down deep mysteries in words.
There is no man now living across the earth so skilful in mind, so mighty in strength, that all these gifts are ever granted to one alone, prepared for one person, lest pride injure him, or his heart grow haughty because of his greatness of he alone, above all other men, has beauty and wisdom and success in his works; but he diversely directs the races of mankind away from pride, and dispenses his gifts – to some virtue, skill to others, to some fair appearance, to others battle-prowess, to one man He gives a merciful heart, a mind fixed on virtue; another is faithful to God. In his worthy way the Lord scatters His gifts far and wide. Glory be to Him forever, and luminous praise; He gives us this life and makes His merciful mind known to the people.”
The Seafarer – From the manuscript, Exeter book (which is known as an elegy) not necessarily a ‘sad poem’, but a poem of hope and assurance. Also, under complaint and consolation.
“Great is the terror of God, before which the earth trembles; He established the sturdy foundations, the earth’s solid surface and the high heavens. Foolish is he who dreads not the Lord; death will find him unprepared. Blessed is he who lives humbly; mercy from heaven comes to him, the Maker strengthens his spirit, for he believes in His might. A man must steer a strong mind and keep it stable, steadfast in its promises, pure in its ways; every man must hold in moderation his love for a friend and his hatred for a foe, though he may wish him full of fire… or his friend consumed on a funeral pyre. Fate is greater, the Maker mightier than any man’s thoughts.
Let us consider where we should have our home, and then think how we might come there, and let us also strive to reach that place of eternal peace, unending blessedness, where life is found in the love of the Lord, hope in heaven. Thanks be to the holy one that he has so honoured us, ruler of glory, eternal Lord, throughout all time. Amen.”
I hope you enjoyed those poetic words of praise/tribute to the works of the bible. They don’t replace it, but this is the kind of book that you read to keep you entertained with more of a twist!
I continually love to delve into biblical poetry, if I am not reading Proverbs or Psalms, although I have to say I don’t read my bible as much as I should. I particularly like those two books because they are the most poetic and are written by King David.
According to the Biblical account, the authors of Psalms include David, Moses, Asaph, Solomon, descendants of Korah, and Heman and Ethan the Ezrahites. King David is most commonly associated with the book because he is said to have written 73 of the psalms, more than any of the other authors.
If you are interested in biblical writing apart from just reading the bible, this is that kind of read. I thoroughly enjoyed diving deeper into the thought out words and the worship and glorification of God.
I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend thus far, and I will keep you posted of anything new! I really enjoyed writing one of my most top posts, A British Blogoholic at heart, Burberry bling & places to visit in 2017. It happens to be my NEW favourite!