Saturday, 28 March 2015

"Jerusalem the golden" - Bernard of Cluny, 12th Century

THE pious monk, now known as Bernard of Cluny, was born in the twelfth century in Morlaix, France; and upon maturity dedicated himself to the service of God in the Abbey of Cluny. Whether or not he was named after Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, as some suppose, it is known that he was much younger than the author of "Jesus, the very thought of Thee." From within the cloistered walls of the Abbey the godly man looked out upon the world about him, and was sick at heart to see so much worldliness and sin in the life of the people of his day. 

As he meditated upon this sad condition, which weighed so heavily upon his soul, he wrote in the Latin language a great poem of three thousand lines, entitled "Concerning a Disdain of the World." While it is largely a satire upon the sinful age, and warns against the wrath to come, the poem by way of contrast contains the most exalted passages, expressing the poet's eager contemplation of the glorious life awaiting the blessed in heaven. Dr. John Mason Neale, an English clergyman and scholar, has made exquisite translations into English from these lines upon heaven, and from his translations, among others, has been taken our stirring hymn, "Jerusalem the golden." It has been called the "Hymn of heavenly homesickness," as it expresses so tenderly the yearning of the devout soul for "that sweet and blessed country." 

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