A Hymn for St Nicholas

HYMN                                                                                        Kingsfold

 

In dark and dismal winter days,

the dying of the year,

the soul is seared with bitterness,

the heart oppressed with fear.

But Advent kindles welcome hope,

and in that hope we sing

on this, the Feast of Nicholas,

the praise of Christ our King.

 

In days of peril, danger, sword,

Saint Nicholas endured:

by chains confined, to cell consigned,

he served the risen Lord

whose cross he bore each day with joy,

whose Gospel path he trod;

a faithful bishop in the Church,

a servant of our God.

 

His flock he tended by the sea,

the deep was all their toil;

on white-flecked wave their ships sailed home

with corn and wine and oil.

But when, in ocean’s rage and swell

their hearts and hopes would break,

Good Nicholas would fall to prayer,

“and all for Jesu’s sake.”

 

To fill them with the finest wheat

he emptied out his purse;

the humble poor were his delight,

to Kings he was a curse:

the innocent he saved from death

when justice fled the land;

he trusted in God’s strength, and stayed

the executioner’s hand.

And when he heard a father’s grief

(“Three daughters! All in thrall;

condemned to brutal slavery,

the vilest trade of all …”),

he freed them from their cruel bonds:

his gold he freely shared;

a dowry gave he them who thus

for love by love were spared.

 

Such is the tale of Nicholas,

whose fame will never fade,

who, for the sake of God-made-flesh,

preserved the flesh God made:

and, as we share in Christmas gifts,

we praise the God who gives

himself. the greatest gift of all,

to us, and all that lives.

 

Sophie Fowler, b. 1963

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