Friday, March 25, 2016

HYMN: Oh, Pilate Fixed Three Crosses

The Reverend William Weedon, the Director of Worship for the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, once shared a piece written by St. Romanos the Melodist called "Kontakion 22," which is a conversation between Hell and Satan concerning the Crucifixion. (You can find the text in its entirety here.) Weedon once dared a group of hymnwriters to versify the text. I'd never taken up the challenge...until today. In about an hour and a half, while preparing for tonight's service, I threw this text together. My apologies to St. Romanos for rhyming "skull" and "all." Feedback is love.

A blessed and holy Triduum to you and yours.

Oh, Pilate Fixed Three Crosses

1. Oh, Pilate fixed three crosses
On Golgotha, the Skull:
Two for the malefactors,
One for the Life of All. 
Said Hell, "A nail has pierced me,
A wound unto My heart.
A lance has laid me open,
And I am torn apart. 

2. "My insides are in anguish,
My gut in agony,
My spirit is in terror;
It trembles, quaking me. 
And I must vomit Adam,
My prize from Eden's tree,
For this new shoot has opened
My bars to set him free."

3. Said Satan then with cunning, 
"O Hell, why do you groan?
That tree, at which you tremble,
I built there on my own
To kill the Virgin's offspring.
That tree, it is a cross,
To which I nailed Messiah.
New Adam, Christ, has lost!

4. "Fear not, O Hell. Fear nothing!
That tree is barren, dry.
That tree, it cannot harm you,
So hold your head up high.
Do not release the Adam
Imprisoned in your gate.
No paradise awaits him.
Your hold, his only fate."

5. Then Hell replied to Satan,
"You cunning snake, beware!
You must have lost your senses!
Your trap, it holds you there.
Look up, for you have fallen
Into your own dark pit.
That tree which you call barren,
Rich fruit now grows on it.

6. "A Thief that fruit has tasted,
And now he is the heir
Of all of Eden's blessings:
A tree you once thought bare."
Then Satan cried, "You coward!
O Hell, your mumbles cease!
Why fear this cross? Why tremble?
My workings bring me peace.

7. "Your wretched words mean nothing.
This cross, it is my plan. 
For next I will entomb Him
Who sought to free all man.
Then I, O Hell, will mock you
For cowardice, for fear.
No paradise for Adam
When Christ is buried here."

8. Said Hell, "O Satan, listen!
Behold, the Crucified!
The cross, it is His power.
The cross, it is His pride.
For you the cross is folly:
Go see Him there, enthroned!
And on that royal dais
He hears the sinner's groan."

9. Then Satan heard with horror
The witness of a thief:
"Remember me, O Jesus,"
He spoke with fresh belief.
With mercy Jesus answered, 
"You faith, it will suffice.
This day will you go with me
Again to Paradise!"

10. Then Satan was astounded.
He wilted then in fear.
"Disdaining His accusers,
A thief He deigns to hear?
To Pilate He said nothing;
He welcomes home a thief?
His works bring condemnation,
No merit or relief."

11. The devil cried still louder,
"Receive me, then, O Hell,
For I did not believe you.
With you I now shall dwell.
The tree at which you shuddered,
Made red with watered blood
Which flowed from pierc├Ęd Jesus
Will work Old Adam's good."

12. They cried out both together,
"Oh, let us now lament!
This tree which we have planted
This Jesus now has bent
Into a holy shelter
For murderers and thieves,
A tree with shade most pleasant
With fruit that now relieves.

13. "This cross has now been shapen
Into a Tree of Life!
Now paradise awaits them
Who then faced only strife."
Then Hell said to the tyrant,
"O let that cross be bare!"
And Satan answered quickly,
"I'll kill nobody there.

14. "You also, murder no one.
Let us draw back our hand
And leave the race of Adam
With Christ the Lord to stand.
For all of Adam's children
Unto the cross are sealed,
And life to them is given:
A precious pearl revealed.

15. "That pearl a Thief has taken
Upon the holy tree,
And having borne that treasure,
He died without a plea.
That Thief, the Son of Mary,
Well-suited to His trade,
Was called again to Eden,
The Paradise remade."

16. O Highest and most Holy, 
O God of age and youth,
Your outrage is our honor,
The cross, our boast, our truth.
Unto our hearts we nail it
With songs to Christ addressed,
For His great cross shall bring us
To Paradise the blest!

76 76 D
Tune: EWING (LSB 672)
Occasion: Good Friday
Text: Kontakion 22 by Romanos the Melodist

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