What sweet of life endureth

Representative Text

1 What sweet of life endureth
Unmixed with bitter pain?
’Midst earthly change and chances
What glory doth remain?

2 All is a feeble shadow,
A dream that will not stay;
Death cometh in a moment,
And taketh all away.

3 O Christ, a light transcendent
Shines in thy countenance,
And none can tell the sweetness,
The beauty of thy glance.

4 In this may thy poor servants
His joy eternal find;
Thou calledst them, O rest them,
Thou lover of mankind!

Source: The New English Hymnal #330

Author: St. John of Damascus

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus (b. Damascus, c. 675; d. St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. John's father, a Christian, was an important official at the court of the Muslim caliph in Damascus. After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church. He defended the church's use of icons, codified the practices of Byzantine chant, and wr… Go to person page >

Translator: Athelstan Riley

Riley, John Athelstan Laurie, M.A., s. of John Riley, Mytholmroyd, Yorks, was born in London, Aug. 10, 1858, and educated at Eton and at Pembroke College, Oxford (B.A. 1881, M.A. 1883). He has been since 1892 a member of the House of Laymen of the Province of Canterbury. He was one of the compilers of The English Hymnal, 1906, and contributed to it seven translations from the Latin (34, 185, 193, 195, 213, 242, 321, with No. 97 previously published), and one from the Greek, beginning, "What sweet of life endureth," from Iiola rod fiiov, p. 899, i., and the following originals:— 1. Come, let us join the Church above. Martyrs. 2. Saints of God! Lo, Jesu’s people. St. Bartholomew. The initials of the lines form the acrostic S… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: What sweet of life endureth
Author: St. John of Damascus
Translator: Athelstan Riley
Source: Greek
Language: English

Tune

CHRISTUS, DER IST MEIN LEBEN

Melchior Vulpius (PHH 397) composed this short chorale tune, published as a setting for the anonymous funeral hymn "Christus, der ist me in Leben" ("For Me to Live Is Jesus") in Vulpius's Ein Schön Geistlich Gesangbuch (1609). Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) based his Cantata 95 on this tune and provided tw…

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ST. MARY MAGDALENE


Timeline

Media

The Cyber Hymnal #7269
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The Cyber Hymnal #7269

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The New English Hymnal #330

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