Poets and Prophets

Cristo ya nacio en Palacagüina

Received from Padre Grant Gallup, Casa Ave Maria, Managua. He writes: "The phrase 'Cristo ya nacio en Palacagüina' is the name of a wonderful Christmas carol (and its music) written here in Nicaragua by Carlos Mejia Godoy during the Sandinista revolution. Palacagüina is his own home town, a remote village in the campo. So he declares that Christ has now been born there, too. This remains a popular carol in Nicaragua, though the closing words have been altered. (When I heard this sung recently, the choir had changed 'guerrillero' to 'misionero' -- Jesus would be a missionary when he grew up, not a guerrilla!)"

En el cerro de la iguna                On the hill of the iguana
montaña adentro de Segovia             a mountain in Segovia
se vio un resplandor extraño           a splendor strange was seen
como una aurora de medianoche          like daybreak at midnight!
los maizales se prendieron             cornfields caught fire,
los quiebraplatas se estremecieron     Even ironwood trees trembled
Llovió luz por Moyogalpa               Light rained down on Moyogalpa
Por Telpaneca, por Chichigalpa         On Tepaneca, on Chichigalpa

Coro:                                  Chorus:
Cristo ya nació en Palacagüina         Christ has now been born in Palacagüina
de Chepe Pavón y una tal Maria         of Joe Pavón and a girl named Maria
Ella va a planchar muy humildemente    She goes very humbly to iron
la ropa que goza                       the clothes enjoyed by the
la mujer hermosa del terrateniente     landlord's lovely woman

La gente para mirarlo                  The people come to see
se rejuntaron en un molote             joining in a great throng
y el indio Joaquin le trajo            And the indian Joaquin brings
quesillo en trenza de Nagarote         braided cheeses from Nagarote,
en vez de oro, incienso y mirra        Instead of gold, incense and myrrh
le regalaron, segun yo supe            they bring, far as I know,
cajetitas de Diriomo                   candy kisses from Diriomo
y hasta buñuelos de Guadalupe          and even yucca fritters from Guadalupe

José el pobre jornalero                Joseph the poor day laborer
se mecateya todo el dia lo             slaves all day long
   tiene con reumatismo                there with his rhematism,
el tequio de la carpenteria            webbing seats for chairs, his work of carpentry
Maria suena que el hijo                Mary dreams that her son
igual que el tata sea carpintero       Like his papa will be a carpenter
Pero el cipotillo piensa               But the little rascal thinks:
Mañana quiero ser guerrillero!         Tomorrow I'll be a guerrilla!


Our Lady

By Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

   Mother of God! no lady thou:
     Common woman of common earth
   Our Lady ladies call thee now.
     But Christ was never of gentle birth;
     A common man of the common earth.

   For God's ways are not as our ways:
     The noblest lady in the land
   Would have given up half her days,
     Would have cut off her right hand,
     To bear the child that was God of the land.

   Never a lady did He choose,
     Only a maid of low degree,
   So humble she might not refuse
     The carpenter of Galilee:
     A daughter of the people, she.

   Out she sang the song of her heart.
     Never a lady had so sung.
   She knew no letters, had no art;
     To all mankind, in woman's tongue,
     Hath Israelitish Mary sung.

   And still for men to come she sings,
     Nor shall her singing pass away.
   'He hath filled the hungry with good things' --
     O listen, lords and ladies gay! --
     'And the rich He hath sent empty away.'




By G. A. Studdert-Kennedy

  When Jesus came to Golgatha,
  They hanged Him on a tree,
  They drove great nails through hands and feet,
  And made a Calvary.
  They crowned Him with a crown of thorns,
  Red were His wounds and deep,
  For those were crude and cruel days,
  And human flesh was cheap.

  When Jesus came to Birmingham
  They simply passed Him by,
  They never hurt a hair of Him,
  They only let Him die;
  For men have grown more tender,
  And they would not give Him pain,
  They only just passed down the street,
  And left Him in the rain.

  Still Jesus cried, 'Forgive them,
  For they know not what they do!
  And still it rained the winter rain
  That drenched Him through and through;
  The crowd went home and left the streets
  Without a soul to see,
  And Jesus crouched against a wall
  And cried for Calvary.


The Sign of the Son of Man

By Vida Dutton Scudder, quoted in The Cry for Justice, 1915.

Suggested tune: Aurelia

   Thy Kingdom, Lord, we long for,
     Where love shall find its own;
   And brotherhood triumphant
     Our years of pride disown.
   Thy captive people languish
     In mill and mart and mine;
   We lift to Thee their anguish,
     We wait Thy promised Sign!

   Thy Kingdom, Lord, Thy Kingdom!
     All secretly it grows;
   In faithful hearts forever
     His seed the Sower sows;
   Yet ere its consummation
     Must dawn a mighty doom;
   For judgment and salvation
     The Son of Man shall come.

   If now perchance in tumult
     His destined Sign appear --
   The rising of the people --
     Dispel our coward fear!
   Let comforts that we cherish,
     Let old traditions die,
   Our wealth, our wisdom perish,
     So that He but draw nigh!

The following additional verses are found in Vida Scudder's The Church and the Hour: Reflections of a Socialist Churchwoman (1917):

   In wrath and revolution
     The Sign may be displayed,
   But by Thy grace we'll greet it
     With spirits unafraid.
   The awestruck heart presages
     An Advent dread and sure;
   It hails the hope of ages--
     Its Master in the poor.

   Beyond our fierce confusions,
     Our strife of speech and sword,
   Our wars of class and nation,
     We wait Thy certain Word.
   The meek and poor in spirit
     Who in Thy promise trust
   The Kingdom shall inherit,
     The blessing of the Just.


Hail the Glorious Golden City

Felix Adler, 1878 (alt}

Suggested tune: Dyke's "Sanctuary"

1. Hail the glorious golden city,
Pictured by the seers of old!
Everlasting light shines o'er it,
Wondrous tales of it are told:
Free and righteous men and women
Dwell within its gleaming wall;
Wrong is banished from its borders,
Justice reigns supreme o'er all.

2. We are builders of that city,
All our joys and all our groans
Help to rear its shining ramparts;
All our lives are building stones:
Whether humble or exalted,
All are called to task divine;
All may aid alike to carry
Forward God's sublime design.

3. And the work that we have builded,
Oft with bleeding hands and tears,
Oft in error, oft in anguish,
Will not perish with our years:
It will live and shine transfigured,
In the final reign of right;
It will pass into the splendors
Of the city of the light.


Comrade Jesus

Sarah N. Cleghorn

Thanks to St. Mathew who had been
At mass-meetings in Palestine,
We know whose side was spoken for
When Comrade Jesus had the floor.

"Where sore they toil and hard they lie,
Among the great unwashed dwell I;--
The tramp, the convict, I am he;
Cold-shoulder him; cold-shoulder me."

By Dives'door with thoughtful eye,
He did to-morrow prophesy;--
"The Kingdom's gate is low and small;
the rich can scarce wedge through at all."

"A dangerous man,"said Caiaphas;
"an ignorant demagogue, alas!
Friend of low women, it is he
Slanders the upright Pharisee."

For law and order, it was plain,
For holy church, he must be slain.
The troops were there to awe the crowd
And violence was not allowed.

Their clumsy force with force to foil
His strong, clean hands He would not soil,
He saw their childishness quite plain
Between the lightnings of His pain.

Between the twilights of His end,
He made His fellow-felon friend;
With swollen tongue and blinding eyes
Invited him to Paradise.

Ah, let no local Him refuse!
Comrade Jesus hath paid His dues,
Whatever other be debarred
Comrade Jesus hath His red card.


Jesus Christ

Woody Guthrie's song to the tune of Jessie James exists in many different versions; the following verses draw upon several of them. In most versions, the third line of the chorus reads, "and a dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot", but I have kept a version that rhymes -- and is more fun to boot.

Jesus Christ was a man that travelled through the land,
A carpenter true and brave.
He said to the rich give your money to the poor
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

    Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand,
    His followers true and brave.
    But that foe of the proletariat named Judas Iscariot
    Has laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

The people of the land took Jesus by the hand;
They followed him far and wide.
I come not to bring you peace, but a sword,
So they killed Jesus Christ on the sly.

    He went to the rich and he went to the poor,
    He went to the hungry and the lame
    He said that the poor would one day win the world,
    So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

Well he went to the preachers, he went to the law;
He told them all the same,
Sell all of your jewelry and give it to the poor,
So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

    Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand,
    His followers true and brave.
    But that foe of the proletariat named Judas Iscariot
    Has laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

When Jesus came to town all the working folks around
Believed what he did say.
Well it was the rich landlord and the preachers that they hired
Who laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

    They nailed him there to die on a cross in the sky --
    The lightening, the thunder and the rain --
    And Judas Iscariot committed suicide
    When they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

This song was made up in New York City
Of rich man, preacher, and slave.
If Jesus was to preach what he preached in Galilee,
They would lay Jesus Christ in his grave.

    Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand,
    His followers true and brave.
    But that foe of the proletariat named Judas Iscariot
    Has laid Jesus Christ in his grave.



Thy Kingdom Come

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Alt.

Suggested tune: Vulpius (1609).

O Hope of all the lowly!
To thirsting souls how kind!
What grace to all who seek you!
What bliss to all who find!

My tongue but feebly praises,
Yet praise be my employ;
Love makes me bold to praise you,
For you are all my joy.

Dwell with us, and our darkness
Will flee before your light;
Scatter the world's deep midnight,
And fill it with delight.

Oh humankind, behold him,
And seek his love to learn;
And let your hearts, in seeking,
Be fired with love and burn.

O come, O Sun of Justice!
Eternal judge and kind,
The longing world awaits you:
Arise, arise, and shine.


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