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Let all mortal flesh keep silence

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Title: Let all mortal flesh keep silence  
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Subject: Easter Vigil, Edward Bairstow, The Best of John Fahey, Vol. 2: 1964–1983
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Let all mortal flesh keep silence


Let all mortal flesh keep silence is an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion based on words from Habakkuk 2:20, "Let all the earth keep silence before him". The original was composed in Greek as a Cherubic Hymn for the Offertory of the Divine Liturgy of St James in the fourth century AD, with local churches adopting arrangements in Syriac. In modern times, the Ralph Vaughan Williams arrangement of a translation from the Greek by Gerard Moultrie to the tune of Picardy, a French medieval folk melody, popularized the hymn among other Christian congregations.

The Moultrie translation is written in 87.87 Trochaic meter. Therefore, winged in the first line of the fourth stanza ought to be read or sung as a single syllable. However, the two-syllable variant wingèd has become commonly accepted, especially outside of the United Kingdom.

Verses

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

There is also a Latin version of the English hymn "Caro mortis Habe Pacem."

Further reading

External links

  • Words, MIDI, and score at
  • Musical annotation for playing as MIDI melody or score at
  • Hear Real Audio and MP3 samples at Center for Church Music songs and hymn collection "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence"
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