12 April 2009


Today, after the dark mourning of the crucifixion, is the bright morning of the resurrection. I think trumpets are called for, and flowers.

George Herbert agrees. This Easter poem (actually, just the first half of the poem; the second half is quite different metrically and in subject matter) weaves a beautiful metaphor of the cross as a musical instrument of praise. The third stanza compares the trinity of tuneful lute, joyful heart, and holy spirit to a three-noted musical chord, made harmonious only by the addition of that third element.

The poem almost demands a musical setting. If you can find it, listen to Ralph Vaughn Williams' version. The first line alone, with the soloist's declamation of "Rise heart; thy Lord is risen," echoed by the choir, is Easter in a nutshell.

Happy Easter, everyone!

by George Herbert

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

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