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HYMN 2

 

(NOTE: The story of Tamar and Amnon is in 2 Sam 13, 1­29; the story of Shechem and Dinah is in Gen 34; and of Jephthah and his daughter in Judges 11, 29­40. There is also an allusion to the story of Susannah and the Elders, Dan 13 in the Septuagint.)

Dressed as a lamb,
coming to the ewe,
its mother ­ Amnon
thought to use
her generosity
to get his way.
Like a sick man he lay,
like a warrior he rose
grabbing at the prize
that would bring him shame
Seeing her virginity secure
as it was, he sought
to catch her secure in the trap
of what is not.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.

 

Crafty, O virgin,
was the hunger you sought
to satisfy, but
you are innocent, since Amnon,
seeking food,
sought you.
By this meal he did not want
he sought
the fleshly desire
he wanted, O
that deceiver!
By what he did not
want, he found
what he was looking for.

Only the just
can glorify God.

 

He was looking for a heart.
O, the Word who makes
hearts for the heartless one to take!
for he was like a snake,
lying still,
as if sleeping in the sun, or ill,
so that she would fail
to be on her guard and he could
wound her.
Desire deceived and destroyed
virginity, then anger
deceived and destroyed desire.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.

 

She tore at her robe, Tamar,
when she saw what she had lost.
The robe could be replaced
but her bodily integrity,
once stolen, could never be
sought out again. Virginity!
All can destroy you easily
but only the Lord of all has power
to take the creature that has been
broken, and make it whole again.

Only the just
can glorify God.

 

Tamar feared to say nothing but was ashamed
to speak; since she could neither
speak or say nothing, she tore her robe
so that the shreds would complain
silently, that all the hidden glory
of her virginity was gone.
All the precious stones
in her possession could not compensate
the desecration of that
greatest of treasures.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.

 

The King's daughter had,
sparkling about her,
many precious stones
but above them, one
shone, brighter than the others.
Therefore the thief despised
all the precious stones, except
the one that shone.
Virginity is modest.
She does does not know
that she is precious, but
the thief knows.

Only the just
can glorify God.

 

This champion knew
that he could not lay her low
by standing against her.
So he fell, and so
triumphed. What he sowed
in the inner chamber later
gave an abundant yield.
For he that had destroyed
virginity and refused
the healing discipline
of marriage, died by the sword.
Her virginal
blood, shed,
was to be repaid
by his blood, spilled
in the open field.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.

 

In the open field
they are waiting for you,
and in the inner chamber,
and in the wilderness.
What can you do?
If you go into the inner chamber,
there is Amnon, the treacherous.
And if you go out into the field,
Shechem is there,
the thief. O dove, O
lover of solitude, where can you go,
when hunters are looking for you everywhere?

Only the just
can glorify God.

 

But your hunters
are, themselves, pursued.
Shechem who, in the wilderness,
raped you, was killed
within four walls,
and Amnon who
waited for you
in the inner room
was pulled
out into the field.
All your destroyers
have been destroyed,
and this is a type.
For he who does not honour you
cannot live.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.

 

When Jephthah's daughter bowed
her head before her father's sword,
she was comforted by her purity,
she held to her virginity
as to a priceless pearl,
and she had this to console
her, that she was delivered whole
from every danger.
But they who have lost that wholeness,
have lost that white stone,
will die in great distress.
Even if they have atoned
and shown repentance
they will fear to rise again, will fear
the presence of the Saints.

Only the just
can glorify God.

 

When Jephthah's daughter bowed
willingly before the sword
it was to keep intact
her father's word.
O consecrated woman, do not let
your eyes break
the word your mouth
uttered in the secret room.
It was his daughter's blood
that Jephthah poured
out as a sacrifice,
but it was His own
blood that the One,
the only­begotten Lord,
gave as the price
to buy the blood
that seals the gate
that lies across the road
that leads into your womb.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.

 

A married woman wanted
to die to avoid
adultery.
A virgin
died to defend her father's word.
If a mother of children
preferred to die
rather than have
a seed that was stolen,
how could you want,
secretly,
to steal your fertility,
so that the child who is clean
in the womb should be born
lawlessly?

Only the just
can glorify God.

 

O celibate woman,
do not finish your days
in the trackless waste
of empty desires,
so that your enemy moves in,
takes hold of your strength,
breaks up your springs
of living water, and your length
of days be turned to shame,
your victories
be made a mockery,
all the battles that you won
in the time of your youth
so that in old age
you could wear a crown.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.

 

For when we are old and have lost
all comeliness, we remember
how, when we were young,
we abhorred the infirmities
of old age, unless,
deep in the soul there shone
the beauty of the spirit.
So you, virgin, let your beauty
shine through every one
of the senses, so that when they see
your old age, the young
will honour it.

Only the just
can glorify God.

 

Let chastity
shine in your eyes
and your ears know only
the sound of truth;
your tongue know nothing
but the word of life;
your hands know but
the giving of alms; your feet
visiting the sick ­ so let
the picture of God
be borne in your heart.
For, as metal is honoured
by the image of a King,
so will those be honoured
who show, standing,
about themselves, throughout,
in every one of the senses,
as in a church,
the image of the Lord.

They that surrender to lust
are shattered and ensnared.
Only the just
can glorify God.