A Poem Laughing at Satan and Death Arguing

Ephrem the Syrian writes this poem as a fictional argument between Satan and Death, where each bicker about who is strongest. Ephrem, like many in church history, advocates laughing at our spiritual enemies as one important piece of spiritual warfare. Martin Luther agrees, “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” This poem is a call to confidently laugh today at evil, thereby echoing the victorious laughter of the coming resurrection.

Nisibene Hymns, no. 52

I heard Satan and death loudly disputing
which was the strongest of the two amongst men. 

Refrain: Praise to You, Son of the Shepherd of all, who has saved his flock
                from the hidden wolves, the Evil One and Death, who had swallowed it up. 

Death has shown his power in that he conquers all men,  
Satan has shown his guile in that he makes all men sin. 

Death: Only those who want to, O Evil One, listen to you,
             but to me they come, whether they will it or not. 

Satan: You just employ brute force, O Death,
            whereas I use traps and cunning snares. 

Death: Listen, Evil One, a cunning man can break your yoke,
             but there is none who can escape from mine.   

Satan: You, Death, exercise your strength on the sick,
            but I am the stronger with those who are well. 

Death: The Evil One has no control over the person who reviles him,
             but all who have cursed me, in the past or now, still come to me. 

Satan: You, Death, received your power from God,
            but when I make men sin I do it without any outside help. 

Death: You, Evil One, lay snares like a coward,
             but I use my power like a king. 

Satan: You are too stupid, Death, to recognize how great I am,
            seeing that I can capture free will.

Death: You, Evil One, go around like a hooligan,
             whereas I am like a lion, fearlessly crushing my prey. 

Satan: You have no one who serves or worships you, O Death, 
            but me, kings honor with sacrifices, like a god. 

Death: But many address Death as a benefactor, 
             whereas no one ever has or shall call on you as such, O Evil One. 

Satan: Do you not realize, Death, how many 
            call on me in one way or another, and offer me libations? 

Death: Your name is hated, Satan, you cannot remedy it;
             everyone curses your name. Hide your shame. 

Satan: Your ear is dull, Death, for you fail to hear
            how everyone howls out against you. Go, hide yourself. 

Death: I go open-faced among creation, and do not use deceit like you:
            you do not pass a single night without some kind of deceit. 

Satan: You have not found a better lot for all your truth:
            men hate you just as much as they do me. 

Death: Everyone fears me as a master, 
             but you they hate as the evil one. 

Satan: People hate your name and your deeds, O Death;
            my name may be hated, but my pleasures are loved. 

Death: Your sweet taste ends in setting the teeth on edge:
             remorse always accompanies those pleasures of yours. 

Satan: Sheol is hated for there is no chance of remorse there:
            it is a pit which swallows up and suppresses every impulse. 

Death: Sheol is a whirlpool, and everyone who falls in it is resurrected,
             but sin is hated because it cuts off a man's hope. 

Satan: Although it grieves me, I allow for repentance;
            You cut off a sinner's hopes if he dies in his sins. 

Death: With you his hope was cut off long ago; 
             if you had never made him sin, he would have made a good end. 

Chorus: Blessed is he who set the accursed slaves against each other
              so that we can laugh at them just as they laughed at us. 

Our laughing at them now, my brethren, is a pledge 
that we will again be able to laugh, at the resurrection. 

-Ephrem the Syrian, translated by Brock, The Harp of the Spirit: Poems of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, p. 104-107

Photo by Godfrey Nyangechi on Unsplash

A Hymn Sung by Death Defeated

This is one of my favorites pieces so far by Ephrem the Syrian, Christian poet from the 300s. Ephrem writes this hymn largely from the perspective of death, bracketed and interspersed with some narration. Death begins its discourse in verse two, beginning confidently, then shifting to a tone of alarm as Christ enters Sheol and robs it of a “tithe” of its captives, and ending ultimately in a posture of submission, promising to deliver up all its captives in the future resurrection. It is a long poem, but well worth the read for rich biblical allusion and parallelism that Ephrem uses – as well as the enjoyment to be had as Ephrem uses his sanctified imagination to portray death panicking as he realizes just who Jesus is and what he is doing to his domain.

If any singer-songwriters ever read this post, consider this a request for an adapted version of this song by Ephrem. Such a song could be very powerful for the contemporary Church, just as it would have been for the believers in frontier Nisibis 1,700 years ago.

Nisibene Hymns, no. 36

Our Lord subjected His might, and they seized him,
so that through His living death He might give life to Adam.
He gave His hands to be pierced by nails 
to make up for the hand which plucked the fruit; He was struck on His cheek in the judgment room
to make up for the mouth that ate in Eden; and while Adam's foot was free
His feet were pierced; our Lord was stripped that we might be clothed;
with gall and vinegar He sweetened 
the poison of the serpent which had bitten man. 

Refrain: Blessed is He who has conquered me, and brought life to the dead, to His own glory! 

Death: "If you are God, show your might,
and if you are man, make trial of our might!
Or if it is Adam you are wanting, be off:
he is imprisoned here because of his debts; neither cherubim nor seraphim are able 
to secure his release: they have no mortal amongst themselves
to give himself up for him. Who can open the mouth of Sheol, 
dive down and bring him up from thence, 
seeing that Sheol has swallowed him up and holds him tight forever? 

"It was I who conquered all the sages; 
I have got them heaped up in the corners of Sheol.
Come and enter, son of Joseph, and look at the horrors:
the limbs of the giants, Samson's huge corpse,
the skeleton of the cruel Goliath; there is Og, the son of the giants, too,
who made a bed of iron, where he reclined: 
I cast him off it and threw him down,
I levelled that cedar at Sheol's gate.

"I alone have conquered many, 
and now the Only-Begotten seeks to conquer me!
I have led off prophets, priests and heroes,
I have conquered kings with their array, the giants with their hunts,
the just with their fine deeds - rivers full of corpses
I cast into Sheol, who remains thirsty forever however many I pour in! 
Whether a man is near or afar off, 
the final end brings him to Sheol's gate.

"I have spurned silver in the case of the rich
and their presents have failed to bribe me;
owners of slaves have never enticed me
to take a slave in place of his owner, or a poor man in place of a rich,
or an old in place of a child. Sages may be able to win over  
wild animals, but their winning words do not enter my ears.
Everyone may call me 'hater of requests', 
but I simply perform what I am bidden.

"Who is this? Whose son? 
And of what family is this man who has conquered me? 
The book with the genealogies is here with me - 
I have begun and taken the trouble to read all the names from Adam onwards,
and none of the dead escape me; tribe by tribe they are all written down
on my limbs. It is for your sake, Jesus, 
that I have undertaken this reckoning, 
in order to show you that no one escapes my hands.

"There are two men - I must not deceive - 
whose names are missing for me in Sheol:
Enoch and Elijah did not come to me;
I looked for them in the whole of creation, I even went down 
to the place where Jonah went, and groped around, but they were not there; and when I thought
they might have entered Paradise and escaped, there was the fearful cherub guarding it.
Jacob saw a ladder:
perhaps it was by this that they got up to heaven.

"Who has measured out the sea-sand
and only missed two grains? 
As for this harvest, with which illnesses like harvesters
are daily busied, I alone carry
the sheaves and bind them up. Sheaf-binders in their haste
leave sheaves, and grape-pickers forget whole clusters, 
but only two small bunches have escaped me
in the great harvest that I have been gathering in by myself.

"It is I", says Death, "who have made 
all kinds of catches on sea and land: 
the eagles in the sky come to me, 
so do the dragons of the deep, creeping things, birds and beasts,
old, young and babes; all these should persuade you,
Son of Mary, that my dominion reigns over all.
How can your cross conquer me,
seeing that it was through the wood that I was victorious and conquered at the beginning? 

"I should like to say much more 
- for I do not have any lack of words! - 
but there is no need for words, for deeds
cry out close by; I do not, like you, promise
hidden things to the simple, saying that there will be a resurrection;
when, I ask, when? If you are so very strong, 
then give a pledge on the spot
so that your distant promise may be believed." 

Death finished his taunting speech 
and our Lord's voice rang out thunderously in Sheol,
tearing open each grave one by one.
Terrible pangs seized hold of Death in Sheol; where light
had never been seen, rays shone out from the angels who had entered to bring out
the dead to meet the Dead One who has given life to all.
The dead went forth, and shame covered the living 
who had hoped they had conquered Him who gives life to all.

"Would I were back in Moses' time", 
says Death, "he made me a feast day:
for that lamb in Egypt gave me 
the first-fruits from every house; heaps upon heaps of first-born
were piled up for me at Sheol's gate. But this festival Lamb
has plundered Sheol, taken his tithe of the dead and led them off from me. 
That lamb filled the graves for me, 
this one empties the graves that had been full. 

"Jesus' death is a torment to me,
I wish I had chosen to let him live: it would have been better for me than his death.
Here is a dead man whose death I find hateful;
at everyone else's death I rejoice, but at his death I am anxious, 
and I expect he will return to life: during his lifetime he revived and brought back to life
three dead people. Now through his death 
the dead who have come to life again trample me at Sheol's gates
when I go to hold them in. 

"I will run and close the gates of Sheol
before that Dead One whose death has plundered me.
He who hears of it will wonder at my humiliation, 
because I have been defeated by a Dead man outside: all the dead want to go outside,
and he is pressing to enter. The medicine of life has entered Sheol
and brought its dead back to life. Who is it who has introduced for me and hidden
the living fire in which the cold and dark 
wombs of Sheol melt?" 

Death saw angels in Sheol, 
immortal beings instead of mortal,
and he said: "Trouble has entered our abode.
On two accounts I am tormented: the dead have left Sheol, 
and the angels, who do not die, have entered it - one has entered and sat at the head
of his grave, another, his companion, at his feet. 
I will ask and request him  
to take his hostage and go off to his kingdom. 

"Do not reckon against me, good Jesus, 
the words I have spoken, or my pride before you.
Who, on seeing your cross, could doubt 
that you are truly man? Who, when he sees your power, 
will fail to believe that you are also God? By these two indications 
I have learnt to confess you both Man and God. 
Since the dead cannot repent in Sheol,
rise up among the living, Lord, and proclaim repentance. 

"Jesus king, receive my request,
and with my request, take your hostage, 
carry off, as your great hostage, Adam 
in whom all the dead are hidden - 
just as, when I received him, in him all the living were concealed. 
As first hostage I give you
Adam's body. Ascend now and reign over all,
and when I hear your trumpet call, 
with my own hands will I bring forth the dead at your coming." 

Our living King has arisen and is exalted, 
like a victor, from Sheol. 
Woe is doubled for the party of the left, 
dismay for evil spirits and demons, suffering for Satan and Death, 
lamentation for Sin and Sheol, but rejoicing for the party of the right
has come today! On this great day, then, 
let us give great praise to Him
who died and came to life again, so that He might give life and resurrection to all!

-Ephrem the Syrian, translated by Brock, The Harp of the Spirit: Poems of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, pp. 58-65

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A Poem on Two Lambs

In this poem, Ephrem the Syrian, poet of the ancient church, compares and contrasts the Passover lamb with Christ, the true lamb of God.

Hymns on the Unleavened Bread, no. 3

In Egypt the Passover lamb was slain,
in Sion the True Lamb slaughtered.

Refrain: Praise to the Son, the Lord of symbols
               who fulfilled every symbol at his resurrection.

My brothers, let us consider the two lambs,
let us see where they bear resemblance and where they differ. 

Let us weigh and compare their achievements
- of the lamb that was the symbol, and of the Lamb that is the Truth.

Let us look upon the symbol as a shadow,
let us look upon the Truth as the fulfillment.

Listen to the simple symbols that concern that Passover,
and to the double achievements of this our Passover.

With the Passover lamb there took place for the Jewish people
an Exodus from Egypt, and not an entry.

So with the True Lamb there took place for the Gentiles
an Exodus from error, and not an entry.

With the Living Lamb there was a further Exodus, too,
for the dead from Sheol, as from Egypt;

For in Egypt two symbols are depicted, 
since it reflects both Sheol and Error.

With the Passover lamb, Egypt's greed
learnt to give back against its wont;

With the Living Lamb, Sheol's hunger 
disgorged back the dead, against its nature.

With the True Lamb, greedy Error
rejected and cast up the Gentiles who were saved;

With that Passover lamb, Pharaoh returned the Jewish people
whom, like Death, he had held back.

With the Living Lamb, Death has returned
the just, who left their graves.

With the True Lamb, Satan gave up the Gentiles
whom, like Pharaoh, he had held back.

In Pharaoh two types were depicted;
he was a pointer to both Death and Satan.

With the Passover lamb, Egypt was breached
and a path stretched out before the Hebrews.

With the True Lamb, Satan, having fenced off all paths, 
left free the path that leads to Truth. 

The Living Lamb has trodden out, with that cry which He uttered,
the path from the grave for those who lie buried.

-Ephrem the Syrian, translated by Brock, The Harp of the Spirit: Poems of Ephrem the Syrian, pp. 52-54

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

Introducing the Poet of the Ancient Church

Ephrem the Syrian (c. 306-373) was a deacon in the Roman border cities of Nisibis and Edessa in the 300s. Though not widely known, he is perhaps the most important poet of the early church. The reason he is not well-known is because he wrote not in Greek or Latin, but in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic that served as the main language for Christians in the far east of the Roman empire and those who lived across the border in the Parthian, later Sassanian, empire. These eastern cities where Ephrem lived (now in SE Turkey – Nusaybin and Sanilurfa) were extremely diverse religiously during his lifetime. Different sects of Christians mixed in the marketplace with Arians, Jews, polytheists, and Manicheans. Ehphrem wrote theological poetry, composing many hymns which would serve both discipleship as well as evangelistic purposes. Ever since I read that Ephrem would lead evangelistic choirs of women into the marketplace to contend for the truth of the gospel, I have wanted to more about this overlooked ancient poet. Our focus people group, and so many others in the Middle East and Central Asia, continue to be deeply poetic and musical. The idea of doing theology and evangelism via poetry and song, employed by Ephrem so long ago, might still prove to be a very powerful thing in this region.

I’ve finally gotten my hands on a book of Ephrem’s poems and will periodically post some on this blog, as a window into the Christian faith of this ancient Syriac poet and the churches he sought to strengthen. The poem below is about a communion service, and Ephrem calls for the Church to praise its savior, drawing connections to the wedding at Cana in John 2, doing a bit of comparison between Israel’s failure and the Church, and ending by delighting in the nature of Jesus.

Hymns on Faith, no. 14

I have invited You, Lord, to a wedding feast of song, 
but the wine - the utterance of praise - at our feast has failed.
You are the guest who filled the jars with good wine,
fill my mouth with Your praise. 

Refrain: Praise to You from all who perceive your truth.

The wine that was in the jars was akin and related to
this eloquent wine that gives birth to praise,
seeing that that wine too gave birth to praise
from those who drank it and beheld the wonder.

You who are so just, if at a wedding-feast not Your own
You filled six jars with good wine,
do You, at this wedding-feast, fill, not the jars,
but the ten thousand ears with its sweetness.

Jesus, You were invited to the wedding-feast of others, 
here is Your own pure and fair wedding-feast: gladden Your rejuvenated people,
for Your guests too, O Lord, need 
Your songs; let Your harp utter!  

The soul is Your bride, the body Your bridal chamber, 
Your guests are the senses and the thoughts. 
And if a single body is a wedding feast for you,
how great is Your banquet for the whole Church!  

The holy Moses took the Synagogue up on Sinai:
he made her body shine with garments of white, but her heart was dark;
she played the harlot with the calf, she despised the Exalted One, 
and so he broke the tablets, the book of her covenant.

Who has ever seen the turmoil and insult 
of a bride who played false in her own bridal chamber, raising her voice? 
When she dwelt in Egypt she learnt it from 
the mistress of Joseph, who cried out and played false. 

The light of the pillar of fire and of the cloud 
drew into itself its rays
like the sun that was eclipsed 
on the day she cried out, demanding the King, a further crime.

How can my harp, O Lord, ever rest from Your praise? 
How could I ever teach my tongue infidelity? 
Your love has given confidence to my shamefacedness,
-yet my will is ungrateful.

It is right that man should acknowledge Your divinity,  
it is right for heavenly beings to worship Your humanity;
the heavenly beings were amazed to see how small You became, 
and earthly ones to see how exalted! 

-Ephrem the Syrian, translated by Brock, The Harp of the Spirit: Poems of Ephrem the Syrian, pp. 24-26

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Lone and Level Sands

Our corner of Central Asia is an ancient place. We had some first-time visitors with us this past week, and while traveling back from another city we took the opportunity to visit some very old ruins – old, as in circa 2,700 years ago. Remarkably, ancient carved script was still clear and legible on dozens of the large limestone blocks.

The few scholars that can read that script say that most of it is typical of the bragging monument-speak of ancient kings. “I’m the king of the world” and all that. If you’ve ever read the poem “Ozymandius” by Shelley, you’ll understand the sad irony felt when that kind of chiseled pride is contrasted with the desolation that inevitably comes with the passage of time – and with death.

I’m reminded of the time I visited the ruins of Ephesus. The site of the temple of Artemis only contained one pillar still standing – and that from a recent German reconstruction – and a whole bunch of grass and grazing sheep. So much for “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19). The site in Central Asia we visited was similar. Broken beer bottles littered the site itself, and nearby were tents of nomads, their shuffling flocks, and a lazy guard dog. So much for “the king of the world.”

What’s left of the temple of the great Artemis of the Ephesians

However, I’ve also read that this particular monarch (later murdered by his own sons) may have been privately realistic when it came to his own mortality. In public he may have claimed to be a semi-divine global ruler who would live forever. But scholars say that on the underside of some stones, hidden for centuries, a very different kind of message has been discovered. It’s along the lines of “If you are reading this, then my kingdom has been destroyed, I am no more, and was a mere mortal after all.” That’s quite the time capsule message to leave buried beneath massive limestone blocks. And a rare example of realistic humility for ancient royalty, if these carvings were indeed commissioned by the king himself and not a sneaky dig made against him by the head stone chiseler.

The visitors and I had a great time exploring the site. It’s simply astounding that ruins like this exist and that they have lasted so long – especially the carved script itself. 2,700 years is no small achievement for an ancient mason or scribe shooting for quality work. It was an invigorating place because of the remarkable history, but also a humbling one. Our empires’ greatest public works will one day look just like it, if they even last half as long. A testimony in the desert to glory long gone. It makes one long for the city whose foundation blocks will never fall or waste away.

I found myself wishing the pompous autocrats and politicians of our contemporary scene could visit this historical site, and take away lessons on both the enduring legacy of bold projects and the importance of humility for any powerful – yet oh so temporary – leader. Yes, we may be “crowned with glory and honor” for a day, yet all too quickly it comes to an end. They, and we, would be wise to more often consider these things, and to heed the warnings of Psalm 2:10-12.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Their glory and honor will fade. Only one ruler has a throne and a kingdom that will last forever. If they do not take refuge in him, if they do not give him the kiss of loyalty, they will fade into the sand, just like our local “king of the world.” Just like Ozymandius.

In case you haven’t read it before, here is “Ozymandius” by Shelley.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

“Ozymandius” by Shelley, from Poetry Foundation

Photo by Juli Kosolapova on Unsplash

A Hundredfold Homes Revisited

This week we’ve been packing up for yet another move. My wife came across this poem I wrote for her a couple years ago, which I had posted at the very beginning of starting this blog. She requested that I post it again. And, seeing that she is a very wise and intuitive woman, I am happy to do so. I hope it can serve as one window into how those of us who embrace semi-nomadic missions lifestyles for the sake of the gospel wrestle with the costs – and hope in the world to come.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30 ESV)

A Hundredfold Homes

We have lived with rich and poor
In places some will not or can’t.
And found there joy, and doors
To life, and friends, and won’t 
Forget the promise, one hundred-fold.
We need it dearly every time 
We move again and say goodbye
And home becomes a house – again.
We do it all for Him.
True, we know the cost is real,
That mingled joy of rootlessness.

But I have heard the king has rooms 
And rooms and rooms and worlds.
Perhaps a place where mountains meet 
The sea, a house with orchards on a hill.
With pen and table, porch and sky
And paper and books, maybe some tea.
A pipe! And fire.   
Yes, room to host and reminisce 
(With friends and of course the King himself)
The glory that we saw 
In our hundred fleeting homes. 

Children born and born again, 
The needy fed, the lost redeemed, 
The straying won, the faithful trained.
A hundred tents of light
Soon dismantled yet again.
For the world was ours, but not quite yet. 
We don’t yet know the fullness of
The joy, although we know the taste.
For each new place a portion sings
And each new move the old refrain:
The promises are coming true
Before our eyes – a hundred-fold!
And new creation, forever home.
Is coming, coming, like the dawn. 

So let us drink and to the full 
The joy of each new set of walls.
For they are fleeting like the fall 
And shine unique, eternal.
Remember the talk of camels and tents? 
And Shelby Park, and Kingston’s rooms 
And Sarkenar or St James Court? 
Yes, more to come, if grace allows
And we shall thank the king for each,
With faith and joy await to see 
The next of our one hundred homes
That really are not ours at all.
The glory – they are forever ours, 
And really are not ours at all. 

Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

Why The Poet Said Cretans Were Liars

Remember that sweeping accusation from Titus 1:12-13, where Paul that all Cretans are “always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons?” Well, it’s actually a quotation. And that quotation has a known context, which I had never heard before. Turns out it’s a fight about whether or not the chief of the gods could be dead in a tomb. Paul – whether he’s alluding to this context or merely commandeering a well-known literary rebuke – agrees, following with quite the understatement. “This sentence is true” (v. 13). Clearly, Paul and the Holy Spirit weren’t messing around. This Cretan tendency toward empty and deceptive talk had gone far enough.

“Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. Paul quotes Epimenides, a Cretan poet from the sixth century BC. In his poem Cretica, Epimenides accuses the Cretans of being liars and evil beasts because they claim to host a tomb of Zeus, the chief of the gods. Since Zeus “lives and abides forever,” the Cretans must be liars. Paul quotes from this same poem in his sermon to the Areopagus in Acts 17:28. Crete also claimed to be the birthplace of Zeus, known in antiquity as the Dictaean Cave, which legend placed on the slopes of Mount Ida, Crete’s tallest mountain. Reputedly from Knossos, Epimenides was supposed to have the gift of prophecy, which was bestowed on him after he allegedly slept for 57 years in a cave sacred to Zeus.

ESV Archaeology Study Bible, Note on Titus 1:12-13

Ever feel offended by broad-brush statements of scripture like this? That feeling’s probably a good sign of an area where we are being shaped more by our culture’s mores than by God’s word. Anytime we feel that inner twitch – that’s a good place to pause and lean in. Why exactly does this rub me the wrong way? And what might that mean?

Photo by Victoria Strukovskaya on Unsplash

The Earliest Expression of European Vernacular Poetry

Even Patrick’s great prayer in Irish – sometimes called “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate” because it was thought to protect him from hostile powers, sometimes called “The Deer’s Cry” because it was thought to make him resemble a deer to the eyes of those seeking to do him harm – cannot be definitely ascribed to him. Characteristics of its language would assign it to the seventh, or even to the eighth, century. On the other hand, it is Patrician to its core, the first ringing assertion that the universe itself is the Great Sacrament, magically designed by its loving Creator to bless and succor human beings. The earliest expression of European vernacular poetry, it is, in attitude, the work of a Christian druid, a man of both faith and magic. Its feeling is entirely un-Augustinian; but it is this feeling that will go on to animate the best poetry of the Middle Ages. If Patrick did not write it (at least in its current form), it surely takes its inspiration from him. For in this cosmic incantation, the inarticulate outcast who wept for slaves, aided common men in difficulty, and loved sunrise and sea at last finds his voice. Appropriately, it is an Irish voice.

Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, p. 116

Read St. Patrick’s Breastplate here.

Photo by Scott Carroll on Unsplash

A Song on the Wonder of Marriage

Take my hand 
I won’t let go 
We’ve waited so long 
And all my life 
I walked alone 
To you, my heart, my home 

Like the first man 
I was cut so deep by heaven’s knife 
When I awoke from my sleep 
Oh my Lord, she’s beautiful 
She’s a part of me 
She’s my wife 

Bound by love 
One flesh to be 
An unbroken ring 
And I lay down 
My life for thee 
In love we are free 

Like the first man 
I was cut so deep by heaven’s knife 
When I awoke from my sleep 
Oh my Lord, she’s beautiful 
Walking up to me 
Oh she’s wonderful, standing next to me 
Oh she’s all 
All that I could need, yeah 
She’s beautiful, she’s a part of me 
She’s my wife

“Heaven’s Knife” by Josh Garrels

A Song About the Only One to Conquer Death

Nero is dead, Constantine is dead
Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun are dead
Alexander the Great is dead - however
Jesus is Alive

Napoleon is dead, Lao Tzu is dead
Che Guevara and Henry VIII are dead
Saddam Hussein is dead - however
Jesus is Alive

Through faith in Christ, we've been saved from hell
Because He's risen, it means we'll be raised as well
In glorified bodies fit for the new earth
For now, we participate in the new birth
The universal reality of the true church
With resurrection power, watch the Spirit do work!
United with Christ, we reside in His light
Abide in His might, keep in stride as we fight
The pride in our life, the lies and the spite
We strive to be wise as He guides through the night

“Jesus is Alive” by Shai Linne