Finzi, Gerald: Welcome sweet and sacred feast

Welcome sweet and sacred feast (1953)

Welcome sweet and sacred feast; welcome life!
Dead I was, and deep in trouble;
But grace and blessings came with thee so rife,
That they have quickened even dry stubble.
Thus souls their bodies animate,
And thus, at first, when things were rude,
Dark, void and crude,
They, by thy Word, their beauty had and date;
All were by thee,
And still must be;
Nothing that is, or lives,
But hath his quick’nings and reprieves
As thy hand opes or shuts:
Healings and cuts,
Darkness and daylight, life and death
Are but mere leaves turn’d by thy breath.

But that great darkness at thy death
When the veil broke with thy last breath,
Did make us see
The way to thee.

Was’t not enough that thou hadst paid the price
And given us eyes
When we had none, but thou must also take
Us by the hand
And keep us still awake,
When we would sleep,
Or from thee creep,
Who without thee cannot stand?

Was’t not enough to lose thy breath
And blood by an accursed death,
But thou must also leave
To us that did bereave
Thee of them both, these seals, the means
That should both cleanse and keep us so,
Who wrought thy woe?
O rose of Sharon! O the lily
Of the valley!
How art thou now, thy flock to keep,
Become both food, and Shepherd to thy sheep.

Words: Henry Vaughan (1621–95)
Music: Gerald Finzi (1901–56)