Being the Sacred Poetry of St. Alphonso Maria Liguori
Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
Translated from the Italian
And Edited By
Robert A. Coffin
Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer
Burns And Lambert, 17 And 18 Portman Street,
And 63 Paternoster Row.
Joan. Can. Poen. Morris,
N. Card. Wiseman.
Westmon. 7 Oct. 1863.
NOTICE.ROBERT ASTON COFFIN, C.SS.R.
The present Translation is an humble attempt to render, as faithfully as possible, in our own language, the Sacred Poetry of St. Alphonso.
In order to attain this, it has been our endeavour to retain not only the ideas of the saintly Author, but even his forms of expression, and his very words, as far as was found practicable.
Having this object in view, it became a duty often to sacrifice style to exactness, and poetical form to a faithful reproduction of the original. In doing this, we have the consolation of believing that we are following in the steps of St. Alphonso himself, who was ever ready to abandon the highest literary excellence, for the sake of a single word which could lead to a greater love of Jesus and Mary.
The spirit of these compositions will not be thoroughly understood, unless the reader bears in mind, that they were for the most part written by St. Alphonso for the use of the people, and in order to replace the profane and dangerous love-songs, of which the Neapolitans were so passionately fond. He was accustomed, not only while yet a missionary, but even after his elevation to the episcopacy, to sing them himself before the people in the church, in order to animate them by his example. We learn from his biographer that, after the missions given by him, he had the consolation to see the fruit of his zealous endeavours in the general abolition of dangerous songs, which were replaced by his own Devotional Hymns to Jesus and Mary.
As to the ascetical and mystical poetry, which form a considerable portion of this collection, they must be regarded in the same light as the wonderful effusions of St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, and other Saints, who were wont to give expression in verse to the uncontrollable ardours of Divine Love which consumed their hearts. We may therefore expect to find many sentiments which, unhappily, few will be able to make their own, and many perhaps will not even understand; but which ought to humble us all at the sight of our own coldness, and excite us to admire the effects of Divine Love in the saints, and to adore the mysteries of that Sacred Union which God deigns to contract, even here upon earth, with a faithful soul.
The Translation has been made for the most part from the Italian editions of the Saint’s complete works, published at Monza and at Turin. A few pieces not to be found in those editions have been translated’ from a collection found in a Neapolitan edition printed during the lifetime of the Saint, in 1769, which was used by the Sacred Congregation in the examination of his works previous to his beatification, and is now preserved in the Archives of our Congregation in Rome. The “Ode on the Birth of our Lord,” and the “ Invocation of Mary in time of Temptation,” have been translated from Mss. preserved likewise in the same Archives. Two others, Nos. 12 and 18, are taken from a Neapolitan Collection of Mission Hymns, and are attributed to the Saint.
May this little volume contribute not only to make St. Alphonso more known and appreciated, but also to increase amongst us that simplicity and tenderness of devotion which are the pervading characteristics of his spiritual writings, and which it was the aim of his life to instil into the hearts of all!
St. Mary’s, Clapham,
Feast of the Assumption 1863.
To St. Alphonso.
A Life Scarce Stained By Conscious Sin
PART I. DEVOTIONAL.
§ 1. Our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. On the Birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ
When Jesus first appeared on earth.
2. To the Infant Jesus in the Crib
Oh, how I love Thee, Lord of Heaven above!
3. To the Infant Jesus
O King of Heaven! from starry throne descending.
4. Hymn of St. Joseph, who addresses the Divine Child Jesus
Since Thou the name of Father hast bestow’d.
5. On the Sacred Heart of Jesus
I dwell a captive in this heart.
6. To Jesus in His Passion
My Jesus! say, what wretch has dared.
7. To the Instruments of the Passion of Jesus
O ruthless scourges, with what pain you tear.
8. To Jesus in the Tabernacle
O flowers, O happy flowers.
9. For Holy Communion
My soul, what dost thou!
10. To Jesus, after Communion
O Bread of Heaven! beneath this veil.
11. Visit to Jesus on the Altar
When the loving Shepherd.
12. Visit to the Blessed Sacrament
In this sweet Sacrament to Thee.
§ 2. The Blessed Virgin Mary.
13. Mary our Hope
Mary, thou art Hope the brightest.
14. Virgin of virgins
Of all virgins thou art fairest.
15. Aspirations to Mary
Knowest thou, sweet Mary.
16. Our Mother Mary
Thou art clement, thou art chaste.
17. Mary, the Mother of Mercy
Look down, O Mother Mary!
18. The Name of Mary
Mother Mary, Queen most sweet.
19. On the Loveliness of Mary
Raise your voices, vales and mountains.
20. A Soul the Lover of Mary
I am the lover of a Queen.
21. The Madonna’s Lullaby
Mary Sings, The Ravish’d Heavens.
22. The Mother of Sorrows
O ye who pass along the way.
23. The Death of Mary
Uplift the voice and sing.
24. The Assumption of Mary
Fly, my soul, with Mary fly!
25. Invocation of the Blessed Virgin
Haste, my Mother, run to help me.
PART II. ASCETICAL.
26. On the Tomb of Alexander the Great
Behold the end of all the pomp of earth.
27. Eternal Maxims
Why serve the world, thy enemy?
28. Stanzas for the Evening Exhortations
’Tis the Lord hath sent me hither.
29. Act of Contrition
I have offended Thee, my God.
30. Invitation to Solitude
Fly hither, from the storm that rages round.
31. To the Holy Ghost. The Soul all for God
Begone, ye vain hopes.
32. The Soul gives itself to Jesus
World, thou art no more for me.
33. How amiable is the will of God
‘Tis Thy good pleasure, not my own.
34. On the Love which Jesus bears to the Soul
Oh! it were joy and high reward.
35. Hymn to God the Creator
Why didst Thou not create my soul.
36. The Soul sighing for God
This heart of mine is sighing.
37. The Soul sighing for Heaven
Oh! I am dying of desire.
PART III. MYSTICAL.
38. The Soul enamoured of the Beauty of God
Let those who will for other beauties pine.
39. The Life of a Spouse
To love is the only true life of a spouse.
40. Aspirations to Jesus
Jesus, my sweetest Lord!
41. Dialogue between Jesus and the loving Soul
Open to me, my sister.
42. The Soul inebriated with Divine Love
Oh! where am I!
43. The loving Soul in Desolation
O dark and solitary grove.
44. In honour of St. Teresa
Ye angels, most inflamed.
45. On the Words of St. Aloysius
Poor heart, what art thou doing? say.
The subjoined hymns are inserted among the poetry of St. Alphonso in both the Turin and Monsa editions of his works, but we’re not composed by the Saint.
46. On the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Anonym.)
Fly, my soul, ah, fly away.
47. On the Love of God (Mgr. Falcoja)
O God of loveliness!
48. Mary our Mother (Mgr. Majello)
When I think o’er my happy lot.
49. To Mary assumed into Heaven (Mgr. Majello)
Mary, thy heart for love.
A complete PDF of this hymnal may be found here.