Tuesday 30 March 2010

An Easter hymn - by the Danish writer N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872)

Easter flower! what would you here?
Common flower from village garden,
scentless, lustreless, austere!
Gift that no one e’er would pardon.
Who do you think fain had pressed
such as you to loving breast?
Dare a bird your praise send winging
when in Danish woods it’s singing?

Come alive in heart and mind
from your graves now be upstanding,
childhood days! And with me wind
your way out to father’s garden!
Let me during Easter song,
church bell’s ringing loud and long,
to my heart the flower be pressing
breast and head with it be dressing!

Winter flower! You herald spring,
now unfold in quiet chamber!
Only fools would shame to sing
of God’s work, their lot not savour.
Though your humble garb’s yet mocked,
dull you are and poorly frocked,
on my bier my wish is fully
to be like an Easter lily.

Not in sweetest summer air
did your roots begin to settle,
nor the rose’s scent did share
nor the lily’s silver petal.
During winter’s storms and rain
you put forth in harsh terrain,
joy alone on hearts to lavish
who your inner meaning cherish.

Common flower! but is it true:
Is your meaning that of waking?
Is your sermon really new?
Can the dead grave’s hold be breaking?
Did he rise up, as they claim?
Will his word rise up again?
Does from winding sheet of mourning
life spring forth at Easter’s dawning?

If the dead can’t rise again,
then our meaning has no substance,
we’ll die quickly and in vain,
grace no garden with our presence,
’neath the ground forgotten be
and our wax won’t wondrously
melt, be formed in darkest lining
candle-like on graves be shining.

Easter flower! A drop most strong
from your cup my thirst has sated,
and I quicken before long
wondrously refreshed, elated:
From a swan’s song or its wing
it would seem that it did spring.
Now I see the dead reborn in
early flush of Easter Morning

Oh, how dear to me you are,
common flower from village garden!
Dearer than the rose by far,
Easter flower on graves of fathers!
True spring-tidings bringing me,
of a holy jubilee,
as from death each noble flower
you’re transfigured at this hour!

Yes, it’s true what you allege:
that from death our Saviour’s risen
It is each Good Friday’s pledge ¬–
Easter Morning bursts death’s prison
What are sickle, shield and sword
’Gainst that master brave and bold?
Chaff his breath dispels for certain,
he who swore to bear our burden.

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