23 September 2021

The Holy House

A great benefactor of the restored Shrine at Walsingham was Sir William Milner; who, in 1926, composed the first version of the Pilgrimage Hymn, designed to utilise the melodies of the Lourdes hymn.

In the 1960s, the then Administrator replaced Sir William's wording. One can see why it was felt that some of the expressions offered problems of vocabulary or rhythm; but, well, not everybody is happy with his replacement text!

Here are some stanzas of Sir William's hymn, relating to the legend of Richeldis:

To Richeldis, a matron full blameless of life,
Who sought for the Star that leads safe through our strife
(Ave ...)
Our Lady, all clement, was pleased to appear,
And her voice sweetly sounding, Richeldis did hear:
(Ave ...)
"I come now to ask you, dear daughter of mine,
On the lands of your fathers to build me a shrine:
(Ave ... )
"See build from this model my arms now enfold --
'Tis Nazareth's homestead, more precious than gold,
(Ave ...)
"Where Jesus, my Lord, on my bosom once laid;
Thrice holy the house where His baby feet played.
(Ave ...)
. . . .
"And the spot that I choose where the House shall arise,
By a sign shall be plainly revealed to your eyes."
(Ave ...)
Next morn when Richeldis went abroad in the meads
With her chaplain conversing, and saying her bedes,
(Ave ...)
Lo! springs bright as crystal burst forth from the plain
Where but now the green pastures unbroken had lain.
(Ave ...)
"The sign that was promised see, father, revealed!
O God, for thy goodness our thanks now we yield,"
(Ave ...)
Thus in joy quoth the matron. Forthwith goodly store
Of oak trees was hewn, and of rushes galore.
(Ave ...)
Right soon the good timbers in order were laid,
And the walls, newly rising, stood forth in the glade.
(Ave ... )
When lo! in the night came a bright angel-band,
And the work was completed by Mary's own hand.

Et cetera !

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