Easter Sunday: Now the Green Blade Riseth

I thought I should finish my Easter sequence of music with my favourite Easter Carol.  There’s something about this one that has always spoken to me, even in my pagan / agnostic days.  The harmonies are beautiful and haunting, the melody has a lovely simplicity to it, and the words are just gorgeous.  And maybe a trifle pagan in a Corn God sort of way (looking at you, James Fraser), though I rather think that’s a deliberate subversion of the pagan imagery on the part of the poet.

(Much like the way the early Church subverted large chunks of existing pagan festivals into their holy day celebrations.  There’s this fabulous letter from one of the early Popes that basically tells missionaries that if the people are used to having a feast on this day, you should let them have the feast, and dedicate it to a saint, and if they are used to worshiping in this place, you should dedicate the place, and call it a church.  He doesn’t *quite* say that they’ll never notice the difference, but there is definitely the implication that if you let them keep all their other habits, you’ll be able to quietly slip in the Christianity without anyone getting upset…)

But I digress…

Isn’t it lovely?  Here are the words – somehow, they always bring me to the verge of tears… though the sleep deprivation is probably helping with that (2 1/2 hours of Catholic mass last night was not wholly unexpected, but I really didn’t need another 2 hours from the Wesleyans this morning.  There is such a thing as excess…).

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days hath lain.
Love lives again, that with the dead hath been:Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

In the grave they laid him, Love who men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again.
Laid in the earth, like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in a grave had lain.
Quick from the dead my living Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are wintry, weary or in pain
Thy love can call us back to life again.
Fields of our hearts, that dead and bare have been:Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

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