Yesterday, with exultation
Joined the world in celebration
Of her promised Saviour’s birth:
Yesterday the Angel nation
Poured the strains of jubilation
O’er the Monarch born on earth.
But today, o’er death victorious,
By his faith and actions glorious,
By his miracles renowned,
Dared the Deacon Protomartyr
Earthly life for Heav’n to barter,
Faithful midst the faithless found.
Forward, champion, in thy quarrel!
Certain of a certain laurel,
Holy Stephen, persevere!
Perjured witnesses confounding,
Satan’s Synagogue astounding
By thy doctrine true and clear.
Lo! in Heav’n thy Witness liveth;
Bright and faithful proof He giveth
Of His Martyr’s full success:
Thou by name a Crown impliest;
Meetly then in pangs thou diest
For the Crown of Righteousness!
For a crown that fadeth never,
Bear the torturer’s brief endeavour,
Victory waits to end the strife.
Death shall be thy birth’s beginning,
And life’s losing be the winning
Of a true and better life.
Whom the HOLY GHOST endueth,
Whom celestial light imbueth,
Stephen penetrates the skies:
There GOD’s fullest glory viewing,
There his victor strength renewing,
For his near reward he sighs.
See, as Jewish foes invade thee,
See, how JESUS stands to aid thee:
Stands, to guard His champion’s death!
Cry that opened Heav’n is shown thee:
Cry that JESUS waits to own thee:
Cry it with thy latest breath!
As the dying Martyr kneeleth,
For his murderers he appealeth,
And his prayer their pardon sealeth,
For their madness grieving sore;
Then to CHRIST he sleepeth sweetly,
Who His pattern kept completely,
And with CHRIST he reigneth meetly,
Martyr first-fruits, evermore!