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05 October 2011

Take Him, Earth, For Cherishing









Take him, earth, for cherishing
To thy tender breast receive him.
Body of a man I bring thee,
Noble even in its ruin.

Once was this a spirit's dwelling,
By the breath of God created.
High the heart that here was beating,
Christ the prince of all its living.

Guard him well, the dead I give thee,
Not unmindful of his creature
Shall He ask it: He who made it
Symbol of His mystery.

Comes the hour God hath appointed
To fulfill the hope of men,
Then must thou, in very fashion,
What I give, return again.

Body of a man I bring thee.
Not though ancient time decaying
Wear away these bones to sand,
Ashes that a man might treasure
In the hollow of his hand:

Not though wandering winds and idle winds,
Drifting through the empty sky,
Scatter dust was nerve and sinew,
Is it given to man to die.

Once again the shining road
Leads to ample Paradise;
Open are the woods again,
That the Serpent lost for men.

Take, O take him, mighty Leader,
Take again thy servant's soul.
Grave his name, and pour the fragrant
Balm upon the icy stone.
Take him, Earth, for cherishing,
To they tender breast receive him.
Body of a man I bring thee,
Noble in its ruin.

By the breath of God created.
Christ the prince of all its living.

Take him earth, for cherishing.

Composer: Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

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