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.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Hymn to St George


This is the text of the hymn we sang at the end of Benediction at the Oratory on St George's Day:

Arm! arm! for the struggle approaches,
Prepare for the combat of life:
Saint George! be our watchword in battle,
Saint George! be our strength in the strife.

Great Saint, from the throne of thy splendour,
Look down on thy chosen isle,
Soon,soon may they share in thy glory,
Who faithfully strive her awhile.

The land of the love is a desert,
It s temples and altars are bare,
The finger of death is upon it,
The footprints of Satan are there.

Arise in the might of they power,
And scatter the foes of the Lord;
As the idols of Rome in their temple
Were crushed at the sound of thy word.

Oh, bring back the faith that we cherish,
For which thou hast nobly withstood
The tortures and rack of the tyrant,
That faith which thou seal'dst with thy blood.

Now this may not be the greatest example of the hymnographer's art, but it did occur to me that it certainly did not lack topicality in present political and cultural circumstances.

Bishop Fleming tugged my sleeve to use this illustration of Donatellp's statue of St George as it dates from 1416-17, and so was brand new when Richard Fleming was in Florence in 1418-20.


davidforster said...

Any ideas of the authorship of that hymn? It sounds like Father Faber, though I've been unable to pin it down. There's a challenge for Bishop Fleming to resolve ...

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

I believe it is by a Redemporist - I shall have to check with a priest who knows.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how to find the music this hymn is sung to?