I was thinking about Joseph Plunkett’s poem. I first read it in the poetry appendix of Christian Prayer more than thirty years ago. The musical setting I was first familiar with was that of Michael Joncas from his collection Every Stone Shall Cry, a small publishing house release around 1981. In trying to find it on YouTube, I was unsuccessful, but I noticed that many other composers have taken a try at the text, including Steeleye Span. Interesting.
The words seem enough for this week:
I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.
I was reading that part of Mr Plunkett’s education was with the Jesuits. The spiritual exercises this Lent have emphasized seeing. “I see,” the first line of two stanzas, leapt out at me. All the YouTube versions I heard seem to skip lightly over that verb.
Maybe I’m feeling particularly attuned to things Ignatian, but this poem has a very Jesuit feel to me.