Lamb of God, 6th C in dome of Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna
None other Lamb, none other Name,
None other hope in Heav’n or earth or sea,
None other hiding place from guilt and shame,
None beside Thee!
My faith burns low, my hope burns low;
Only my heart’s desire cries out in me
By the deep thunder of its want and woe,
Cries out to Thee.
Lord, Thou art Life, though I be dead;
Love’s fire Thou art, however cold I be:
Nor Heav’n have I, nor place to lay my head,
Nor home, but Thee.
I have loved this poem ever since being introduced to it in a book of Craig Courtney’s vocal duets. That was several years ago, but the preparation of the work caused me to memorize the text. Just as years of singing Love Came Down at Christmas, and In the Deep Midwinter have embedded those texts in my soul as well.
When poetry became a more frequent reading choice, I found a bounty of her work in my beloved Christian poetry anthology A Treasury of Christian Poetry. To my joy, my #1 Son gave me a a copy of Christina Rossetti: The complete Poems for Christmas last year. Christina Rossetti’s words and images are so evocative and authentic. Her transparent love for the Lord, her beautifully expressed Scriptural allusions and her forthright confessions never fail to lead me to my own candid examen.
As is often the case, when I went looking for an audio version of the Courtney arrangement to share, I stumbled upon a great variety of choral arrangements using this text, and two different hymn tunes. Surely Christina is pleased about this. Betty S. Flowers, who wrote the introductory material in Christina Rossetti: The Complete Poems notes, “One of her earliest ambitions was to write a really fine hymn. And the beauty of her lyricism, the perfect pitch and clarity of her line, the subtle effects of rhyme and rhythm owe much to the nakedness of feeling and simplicity of form to be found in the hymns she knew so well.”
This arrangement is similar to the one I learned as a duet by Craig Courtney. Here it is beautifully sung by Alex Desilets.
Here is a link to more information about The Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna Italy.