Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.

I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop...
It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Hymn to St Frideswide


http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2588/4025405104_229a632fa1.jpg

St Frideswide
Fourteenth century glass in Christ Church Cathedral

Image: Lawrence Lew OP on Flickriver

After Mass at the Oratory this evening we had Benediction in honour of St Fridewide and the opportunity once again to sing one of the more remarkable examples of English hymnography in her honour. I understand the hymn originates at her shrine church, now Christ Church cathedral. The hymn does recount the life of the saint - my favourite verse is no.3 - nor can one fault its sentiments, and I would be loath to see its use abandoned, but great poetry, to be frank, it is not.

It is sung to Handel's March from Judas Maccabeus - Hail the conquering hero comes - and also used for Thine be the Glory.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.
Child of royal parents, courted by a king,
Sought a crown of glory, spurned a wedding ring.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Powerful and peaceful, vowed to God alone,
Frideswide chose a heavenly, not an earthly throne.
Prayer and meditation raised her soul above
All this world's attraction; Jesus held herlove.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.


Algar of Leicester planned to do her wrong,
Sent his men to seize her, Frideswide's faith was strong -
In an instant blinded then his sight restored,
They knew both the wrath and mercy of the Lord.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.


Wonders of healing Frideswide's prayers obtained -
Crooked limbs were straightened, speech the dumb regained.
Through her intercession may the grace be ours
For God's use to offer all our gifts and powers

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Light filled the city as she passed away
Journeyed through death's shadow into endless day,
There we hope to join her, by the truth set free,
Where we have our treasure, there our hearts shall be.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight; Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

1 comment:

  1. There is another rather glorious hymn to St Frideswide : "Well I know the ancient story"
    I wonder if anyone sings it ?

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