The Beatitudes

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by Jame...

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This poem came out of my study of Matthew in the original Greek. It struck me that, although the usual way of translating the beatitudes is quite valid, the Greek also allows the word order to be reversed, changing the stress. Thus, instead of being a list where Jesus declares certain groups of people blessed, it becomes more the answer to an unspoken question: “You think it is the rich and powerful who are blessed by God? No, instead it is….” In fact, one could even add the definite article to “blessed” to make this even more obvious (though it didn’t scan so well for the poem): It is the poor in spirit who are the blessed ones”.

The meter of the poem is regular, but unusual: 10, 10 , 6, 6, 10. I thought (and still think) this would make a good hymn, but I have been unable to find any existing hymn tunes in that meter. Oh well.

————————————————————————————————–

It is the poor in spirit who are blessed,

The ones who know their poverty and need.

For unto them is given

The kingdom of the heav’ns

And they shall reign in righteousness indeed.

 

It is the ones in mourning who are blessed,

The ones who feel the depth of all their sin.

The Comforter shall come

And bring them safely home

To loving face and open arms within.

 

It is the meek and gentle who are blessed,

The ones who’d never harm another soul.

For they shall be His heirs

And all the Earth be theirs

From east to utmost west, and pole to pole.

 

It is the starving children who are blessed,

Who hunger and who thirst for righteousness.

A table will be set,

All their desires met,

Their satisfaction will be limitless.

 

It is the merciful who are the blessed,

Who hold no grudges, harbour no ill will.

For they themselves shall see

His mercy, wide and free,

Of living water they shall drink their fill.

 

It is the pure in heart who are the blessed,

Who keep themselves, though not to merit grace.

But this response they make

To Him, who for their sake

Gave all. And they will see Him face to face.

 

It is the ones who make peace who are blessed,

Who reconcile the hostile world to God.

For they shall all be called

The children of the Lord

And follow in the path that He has trod.

 

It is the persecuted who are blessed,

For righteousness they suffer and they bleed.

For unto them is given

The kingdom of the heav’ns

And they shall reign in righteousness indeed.

 

 

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