20 March 2021 Evensong
This service was sung at the end of the Lent Term, once the choir was permitted to resume singing behind closed doors in March for the first time since December. It features Finzi's monumental anthem Lo, the full, final sacrifice, commissioned by the Revd Walter Hussey for the 1946 patronal festival at St Matthew's Church, Northampton. Hussey, a great patron of the arts, commissioned many great figures in art and music to create works for St Matthew's, and for Chichester Cathedral where he was later Dean. The products include Benjamin Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Henry Moore's sculpture Madonna and Child, and Graham Sutherland's Crucifixion, the latter featured as the thumbnail of this webcast. Unveiled at the service at which Lo, the full, final sacrifice was premièred, it centres on the extraordinary, disturbing scene of Jesus' hanging on the cross, a fixation echoed by Finzi in his intense and moving setting of poet Richard Crashaw's texts.
Lo, the full, final Sacrifice
On which all figures fix't their eyes.
The ransomed Isaac, and his ram;
The Manna, and the Paschal Lamb.
Jesu Master, just and true!
Our Food, and faithful Shepherd too!
O let that love which thus makes thee
Mix with our low Mortality,
Lift our lean Souls, and set us up
Convictors of thine own full cup,
Coheirs of Saints. That so all may
Drink the same wine; and the same Way,
Nor change the Pasture, but the Place,
To feed of Thee in thine own Face.
O dear Memorial of that Death
Which lives still, and allows us breath!
Rich, Royal food! Bountiful Bread!
Whose use denies us to the dead!
Live ever Bread of loves, and be
My life, my soul, my surer self to me.
Help Lord, my Faith, my Hope increase;
And fill my portion in thy peace.
Give love for life; nor let my days
Grow, but in new powers to thy name and praise.
Rise, Royal Zion! rise and sing
Thy soul's kind shepherd, thy heart's king.
Stretch all thy powers; call if you can
Harps of heaven to hands of man.
This sovereign subject sits above
The best ambition of thy love.
Lo the Bread of Life, this day's
Triumphant Text provokes thy praise.
The living and life-giving bread,
To the great twelve distributed.
When Life, himself, at point to die
Of love, was his own Legacy.
O soft self-wounding Pelican!
Whose breast weeps Balm for wounded man.
All this way bend thy benign flood
To a bleeding Heart that gasps for blood.
That blood, whose least drops sovereign be
To wash my worlds of sins from me.
Come love! Come Lord! and that long day
For which I languish, come away.
When this dry soul those eyes shall see,
And drink the unseal'd source of thee.
When Glory's sun faith's shades shall chase,
And for thy veil give me thy Face. Amen.