Richard Crashaw, one of the great Catholic poets of the seventeenth century, is a perennial source of inspiration. His verse preserves a mystical sensibility that is as refreshing today as it was when it was first composed in the Baroque era. This selection, “A Song,” is one of my favorites. I first had to memorize it many years ago in an English class on prayers (at Mr. Jefferson’s famously secular University, no less). I keep returning to it only to find new riches and new consolations. It seems eminently suited to our mid-Lenten moment, when the faithful yearn to see the face of the Resurrected and Glorified Christ.
LORD, when the sense of thy sweet grace
Sends up my soul to seek thy face.
Thy blessed eyes breed such desire,
I dy in love’s delicious Fire.
O love, I am thy Sacrifice.
Be still triumphant, blessed eyes.
Still shine on me, fair suns! that I
Still may behold, though still I dy.
Though still I dy, I live again;
Still longing so to be still slain,
So gainfull is such losse of breath.
I dy even in desire of death.
Still live in me this loving strife
Of living Death and dying Life.
For while thou sweetly slayest me
Dead to my selfe, I live in Thee.