When the first Christian Martyr died,
He saw the Heav’ns unfolded wide,
And Jesus, all alone,
Surrounded by no white-rob’d band,
In solitary glory stand
Beside th’ Omnipotent’s right hand,
Ready His Saint to own.
Years went and came—and, one by one,
Departing as their work is done,
The Saints ascend the skies;--
Blest Mary, with th’ Apostles true,
Martyrs and Virgins, not a few,
And thousands that the world ne’er knew,
Whom age on age supplies.
If Heav’n to-day should drop its screen,
Far other sight would now be seen
Than sooth’d St Stephen’s end;
Jesus, not as before alone,
But circled with a blazing zone
Of myriads, who around His throne
In adoration bend.
O, bold indeed! and shall we say,
Those gathering throngs, from day to day,
No difference make on high?
That time, as still it onward steals,
And its progressive scheme reveals,
From all their prayers no influence feels,
Rain’d from the golden sky?
Forbid it, Heav’n!—It were all one,
Christ from His glory to dethrone;--
Souls of the Sainted dead!
Look down from your exalted height;
Great is our need, and great your might;
Except ye pray, in vain we fight;
Assist us, ere we perish quite;
For we are sore be-sted.
Edward Caswall, Cong. Orat., 1814-1878
Grant, O Lord, that in all our sufferings here upon earth, for the testimony of thy truth, we may steadfastly look up to heaven, and by faith behold the glory that shall be revealed: and, being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love and bless our persecutors, by the example of thy first Martyr Saint Stephen; who prayed for his murderers to thee, O blessed Jesus, who standest at the right hand of God to succour all those that suffer for thee, our Meditator and Advocate; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal
Fr Lee Kenyon