This is the original text of this hymn from Fr. Oakley’s Lyra Liturgica (1865). It is listed in that hymnal under the heading “The Feast of the Immaculate Conception: The Patroness of the Two Advents”:
Thy peerless privilege, O Mother-Maid,
In earliest lessons of our year hath part,
Telling how Faith’s foundations deep are laid
In spotless innocence of mind and heart.
When Christ is nigh for mercy, or in fear,
His twofold Advent draws its light from thee,
O Virgin Mother of our Saviour dear,
O Mother of our Judge that is to be!
The grace that from thy chaste Conception flows
To awe and keen compunction well may move;
So high the Nature that th’ Incarnate chose,
So pure the Creature that deserv’d His love.
Yet, when our breaches of His perfect law,
Sham’d by the brightness of thy life, appal;
We so disfigur’d, Thou without the flaw
That cleaves to us, poor children of the Fall.
Thy Mother’s name, so sweet, and full of power,
Sheds o’er the sinner’s night its gleam of hope,
That thou, the guardian of Christ’s natal hour,
Wilt turn from us His judgment’s fearful scope.
But woe to them, that in thy mercy trace
Deceitful hues of peace that ne’er shall come;
And in the sorrowing sinner’s pledge of grace
Forget the harden’d sinner’s threat of doom.
Prize we the merits of our Virgin Queen,
The store of her Annunciation Feast,
Her lowliness and calm submission, seen
In shrinking converse with her Angel-Guest;
Prize we the charity, that bade her share
With meek Elizabeth the saving news;
Prize we her griefs, and on her glories rare
In duteous love and lowly reverence muse;
But, would we know the secret of her might,
Whence every grace its grand proportions drew,
The golden urn, whence flow’d the tide of light,
That o’er her life such matchless radiance threw?
‘Tis from the mystery we hail to-day
Her glory issues, as her merits date;
We sum her panegyric, when we say
‘Mother of God, conceiv’d immaculate!’
What truths are lock’d within that ample phrase!
What funds of virtue, and what depths of power!
A life of peaceful love and ceaseless praise,
And years of merit centred in each hour.
No stain of earth her sacrifice to mar,
No fault or flaw its beauty to impair;
The Spirit’s life without the Flesh’s war,
Each word an oracle, each thought a prayer.
Bend, O ye Angels, o’er the gracious sight;
Return abash’d, ye sinners, from the view,
Humbled, yet thankful, that a Queen so bright
Should yearn with all a Mother’s heart o’er you.
Yet, while ye claim her sweet indulgent aid.
Seek ye the grace her life to imitate;
We cannot love the spotless Mother-Maid,
And love the sin which was her only hate.
Words: Fr. Frederick Oakeley, 1865.
Tune: “Ffigysbren” Welsh Hymn Melody, 1840.