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Metrical paraphrases and songs

Hymns and songs in one of the standard meters; some are metrical paraphrases of various sacred writings; some are written by me, some by others.

The Four Omens. C.M.

1. Queen Maya bore a baby boy
In the Lumbini grove
The King rejoiced to have an heir,
And welcomed him with love.

2. They chose Siddhartha Gotama
To be the baby's name.
Eight Brahmins came to tell the king
The baby's future fame.

3. "A Universal King he'll be,
As long as he remains
A householder," the Brahmins said,
"By household life constrained."

4. But Kondanya, the youngest, said,
"A Buddha he'll become,
He will renounce the household life
And be th'Enlightened One."

5. "And why might he renounce his home?
If ever he should see
Old age, ill health, a monk, or death,
A Buddha he must be."

6. Siddhartha grew to be a man
Saw death, ill health, old age;
Renounced the world, and then became
A Buddha and a sage.

Based on the Jataka-nidana.

Good Judah Maccabee. C.M.

1. Good Maccabeus and his band:
They freed Jerusalem.
They cast the wicked tyrant out,
For God was guiding them.

2. The altars which the heathen built
Out in the public square,
They pulled them down, and then destroyed
The curséd idols there.

3. They cleansed the temple, kindled flame,
Gave thanks they were now free
And prayed to God to keep them safe
From barb'rous tyranny.

4. They celebrated eight glad days,
Rememb'ring their last feast,
Which they had held in mountain dens
Where they had lived like beasts.

5. Therefore they bore fair branches forth,
Green boughs, and also palms.
They praised the one who set them free:
To God they raised their psalms.

Metrical paraphrase of 2 Maccabees 10.1-7.

The Magi. C.M.

1. Once to Jerusalem there came
Some magi from afar; *
They sought a new-born king of kings,
For they had seen his star.

2. When Herod learned the magi's quest,
He called his priests and scribes.
"Where is this new-born 'Christ'?" he asked,
"King of the Jewish tribe?"

3. The priests and scribes said Bethlehem
Was where the child must be.
King Herod sent the magi thence:
"Go find this child for me."

4. They left the evil Herod's court.
Above the star still shone;
It led the magi to the child
Inside a humble home.

5. They fell and worshipped when they saw
The baby lying there.
Bright gold and myrrh and frankincense
They gave to him in prayer.

6. A dream had warned them: Don't go back
To evil Herod's court.
So by another road they left,
King Herod's plans to thwart.

* If you don't mind deviating from the book of Matthew, you can substitute "Three" for "Some".

Matthew 2.1-12.

The Whale. L.M.

By Herman Melville

1. The ribs and terrors in the whale,
Arched over me a dismal gloom,
While all God's sunlit waves rolled by,
And left me deepening down to doom.

2. I saw the opening maw of hell,
With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell —
Oh, I was plunging to despair.

3. In black distress, I called my God,
When I could scarce believe him mine,
He bowed his ear to my complaints —
No more the whale did me confine.

4. With speed he flew to my relief,
As on a radiant dolphin borne;
Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone
The face of my Deliverer God.

5. My song for ever shall record
That terrible, that joyful hour;
I give the glory to my God,
His all the mercy and the power.

A retelling of the Jonah story, from Melville's Moby-Dick.


Page revised 26 December 2013.