Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Detail from the Pantheon's Madonna of the Rail.

Behold, the price of courtly dance,
The fruit of the forbidden glance,
The head of Christ's great harbinger!
The voice, which did repentance call,
From sylvans rude to palace hall ;
Hush'd is that voice and tongue, and ne'er again shall stir.

Nay, is that tongue for ever still'd?
Nay, it anew his ears hath fill'd
That they can nothing hear no more;
Abroad the Baptist's shadow stalks,
In secret to his spirit talks
Of that incestuous crime more sternly than before.

But holy John ! - he was a cloud
Pregnant with light, which earth-ward bow'd,
Big with the rays of dawning day,
Disclosing the eternal Sun;
As its effulgence now begun,
Then hasted he himself in air to melt away.

For Thine alone, whose footsteps dwell
In seas of light inscrutable,
The glory and the praise is Thine;
Thee the Father everlasting,
And Thee the Incarnate Son we sing,
And Thee who bindest all, the Paraclete Divine.

Ecce, saltantis pretium puellre
Hymn of Mattins for The Beheading of St. John the Baptist
Hymns Translated from the Parisian Breviary, 1834