Those Eternal Bowers

This hymn is a translation of the idiomela for All Saints, which falls on the Sunday after Pentecost in the Byzantine Liturgy. See notes below on the original text. 

Here is the original text as it appears in the first edition of Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862). The text in the fifth edition has no substantial differences:

Those eternal bowers
Man hath never trod,
Those unfading flowers
Round the Throne of God:
Who may hope to gain them
After weary fight?
Who at length attain them
Clad in robes of white?

He, who gladly barters
All on earthly ground;
He who, like the Martyrs,
Says, ‘I will be crown’d:’
He, whose one oblation
Is a life of love;
Clinging to the nation
Of the Blest above.

Shame upon you, legions
Of the Heavenly King,
Denizens of regions
Past imagining!
What! with pipe and tabor
Fool away the light,
When He bids you labour,—
When He tells you,—’Fight!’

While I do my duty,
Struggling through the tide,
Whisper Thou of beauty
On the other side!
Tell who will the story
Of our now distress:
Oh the future glory!
Oh the loveliness!

Words: St. John of Damascus, 8th C.; tr. John Mason Neale, 1862.
Tune: “Morley” Thomas Morley, 1867 .
Meter: 6.5.6.5.D

According to Dr. Neale, the original Greek text is entitled “Τὰς Ἐδρὰς Τὰς Αἰωνίας”. I have been unable to find the text in the Pentecostarion and John Julian has the following note on this text:

Tὰς ἐδρὰς τὰς αἰωνίας. St. John of Damascus. [All Saints] In his Hymns of the Eastern Church, 1862, Dr. Neale entitles this ” Idiomela for All Saints.” According to this it should be found in the Pentecostarion. Various editions, however, have been searched in vain. Dr. Neale’s tr., “Those eternal bowers,” was given in his Hys. of the E. Church, 1862. in 4 st. of 8 1. It has since appeared in various collections, and ranks with the more popular of his translations from the Greek. [J. J.]

About Noah

musings of a young Catholic aspiring to be faithful to his Lord and God Jesus Christ through His Holy Catholic Church
This entry was posted in All Saints (November 1), Ancient & Mediaeval Hymns, Byzantine Liturgy, English Translation of Non-English Hymn, Greek Hymns, Hymns By The Greats, John Mason Neale, Liturgies of the Various Eastern Churches (Byzantine, etc.), Major Feasts, Non-English Hymns, Original Language Text Needed, Pentecostarion, Saints of the Church (Canonized or Beatified), St. John of Damascus, The Church Year, The Communion of Saints, The Liturgy of the Church and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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