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The Hymns Of Prudentius by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius

I. HYMN AT COCK-CROW

Awake! the shining day is born!
The herald cock proclaims the morn:
And Christ, the soul's Awakener, cries,
Bidding us back to life arise.

Away the sluggard's bed! away
The slumber of the soul's decay!
Ye chaste and just and temperate,
Watch! I am standing at the gate.

After the sun hath risen red
'Tis late for men to scorn their bed,
Unless a portion of the night
They seize for labours of the light.

Mark ye, what time the dawn draws nigh,
How 'neath the eaves the swallows cry?
Know that by true similitude
Their notes our Judge's voice prelude.

When hid by shades of dark malign
On beds of softness we recline,
They call us forth with music clear
Warning us that the day is near.

When breezes bright of orient morn
With rosy hues the heavens adorn,
They cheer with hope of gladdening light
The hearts that spend in toil their might.

Though sleep be but a passing guest
'Tis type of death's perpetual rest:
Our sins are as a ghastly night,
And seal with slumbers deep our sight.

But from the wide roof of the sky
Christ's voice peals forth with urgent cry,
Calling our sleep-bound hearts to rise
And greet the dawn with wakeful eyes.

He bids us fear lest sensual ease
Unto life's end the spirit seize
And in the tomb of shame us bind,
Till we are to the true light blind.

'Tis said that baleful spirits roam
Abroad beneath the dark's vast dome;
But, when the cock crows, take their flight
Sudden dispersed in sore affright.

For the foul votaries of the night
Abhor the coming of the light,
And shamed before salvation's grace
The hosts of darkness hide their face.

They know the cock doth prophesy
Of Hope's long-promised morning sky,
When comes the Majesty Divine
Upon awakened worlds to shine.

The Lord to Peter once foretold
What meaning that shrill strain should hold,
How he before cock-crow would lie
And thrice his Master dear deny.

For 'tis a law that sin is done
Before the herald of the sun
To humankind the dawn proclaims
And with his cry the sinner shames.

Then wept he bitter tears aghast
That from his lips the words had passed,
Though guileless he his soul possessed
And faith still reigned within his breast.

Nor ever reckless word he said
Thereafter, by his tongue betrayed,
But at the cock's familiar cry
Humbled he turned from vanity.

Therefore it is we hold to-day
That, as the world in stillness lay,
What hour the cock doth greet the skies,
Christ from deep Hades did arise.

Lo! then the bands of death were burst,
Shattered the sway of hell accurst:
Then did the Day's superior might
Swiftly dispel the hosts of Night.

Now let base deeds to silence fall,
Black thoughts be stilled beyond recall:
Now let sin's opiate spell retire
To that deep sleep it doth inspire.

For all the hours that still remain
Until the dark his goal attain,
Alert for duty's stern command
Let every soul a sentry stand.

With sober prayer on Jesus call;
Let tears with our strong crying fall;
Sleep cannot on the pure soul steal
That supplicates with fervent zeal.

Too long did dull oblivion cloud
Our motions and our senses shroud:
Lulled by her numbing touch, we stray
In dreamland's ineffectual way.

Bound by the dazzling world's soft chain
'Tis false and fleeting gauds we gain,
Like those who in deep slumbers lie: --
Let us awake! the truth is nigh.

Gold, honours, pleasure, wealth and ease,
And all the joys that mortals please,
Joys with a fatal glamour fraught --
When morning comes, lo! all are nought.

But thou, O Christ, put sleep to flight
And break the iron bands of night,
Free us from burden of past sin
And shed Thy morning rays within.

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