Four Office Hymns for Saint George

Despite the title of this post, I would only really recommend the first of the texts here for use at the Office. Hymns for saints days are infamously dire , a combination of terrible doggerel and amusing myths. When we know next to nothing about a saint it can be even worse. I am very glad to say that Fr Harry Hagan OSB of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana has produced a fine new hymn for Saint George’s Day. It is number 413 in Hymns for Prayer and Praise
Saint Meinrad is one of the monastic communities I studied for my dissertation on the renewal of the monastic Office as a model for the parish (1993). I was graciously welcomed by the community while in the States then. Their liturgical music is well worth a look at. The fonts for setting music are widely used, all the settings at Company of Voices Resources are set using them.
Many thanks to Father Harry for permission to post the text here.

Red cross upon a field of white,
the banner of a faithful knight:
Saint George’s blood red cross we bear;
and by this cross our faith we swear.
 
To set a faithless people free
that Christ might be their victory
this valiant servant of God’s realm
the ancient dragon overwhelmed.
 
This gallant martyr for his Lord
declared his faith before the sword
and rising took his cross of red,
emblazoned with the blood he shed.
 
As did St. George, so let us slay
the ancient dragon in our day.
For justice let us take our stand
and so fulfill the great command.
 
To God Almighty with Saint George,
we pledge that we shall ever forge
a bond of holy unity
that binds us to the Trinity.
 
Text by Harry Hagan, OSB.
(c) 2009, Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-
No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.



This text by J.W. Reeks 1849-1900 appeared in a six verse form in the hymn book Praise the Lord of 1972. Three verses of it form the Office hymn in The Divine Office, the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours for England and Wales. 


1. Leader now on earth no longer,
soldier of th’eternal king,
victor in the fight for heaven,
we thy loving praises sing.

Refrain.
Great Saint George,
our patron, help us,
in the conflict be thou nigh;
help us in that daily battle,
where each one must win or die.

 

2. Praise him who in deadly battle
never shrank from foeman’s sword,
proof against all earthly weapon,
gave his life for Christ the Lord.

3. Who, when earthly war was over,
fought, but not for earth’s renown;
fought, and won a nobler glory,
won the martyr’s purple crown.

4. Help us when temptation presses,
we have still our crown to win,
help us when our soul is weary
fighting with the powers of sin.

5. Clothe us in thy shining armour,
place thy good sword in our hand;
teach us how to wield it, fighting
onward towards the heavenly land.


6. Onward, till, our striving over,
on life’s battlefield we fall,
resting then, but ever ready,
waiting for the angel’s call. 



The next text was apparently sung at the Oratory for Saint George and can be found at this blog. It has a definitely Roman Catholic viewpoint.

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 thy 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 thy 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.



Another text is this one by C.H. Boutflower, the music by C.H. Lloyd may be found here.


Uprouse ye, Christian people, who boast St. George today:
Arise, gird on your harness: go forth, tread down and slay!
Ye may not cease from battle, ye shall not sheathe the sword,
But cry “St. George for England, and England for the Lord!”

Refrain:
We will not cease from battle: we will not sheathe the sword:
“St. George, St. George for England, and England for the Lord!”

Is this a day for dalliance, is this a time for sleep,
When Lust and Sloth and Mammon their reign of terror keep?
Bring forth the sign of triumph that alway hath sufficed,
On shield of purest whiteness the blood-red Cross of Christ.

Refrain

O Thou Whose Name of splendour is writ upon Thy side,
Who conquering and to conquer before Thy hosts dost ride,
True Lord of Christian knighthood, true King of chivalry,
Thou in Thy saints art glorious: in them we follow Thee.

Refrain

We too with Heaven’s armies, we with St. George this day,
Would seek and smite the Dragon, nor falter in the fray
Till heart and hearth and nation acclaim with one accord
“St. George, St. George for England, and England for the Lord!”

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