“…as surely as birds must sing, so long as words exist and man is capable of feeling, there will be song.”
Gerard Finzi, 1955
Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice was written in 1946 for choir and organ. The following year Finzi completed a version for orchestra which he conducted himself at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester with the London Symphony Orchestra.
This 14-minute anthem was commissioned by Reverend Walter Hussey for his church St Matthew’s in Northampton and received its premiere there.
Rev Hussey was a strong supporter of the arts. He had previously commissioned Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb which the Choir sung earlier in the term. He also commissioned Henry Moore’s sculpture, Madonna and Child, and Graham Sutherland’s painting, The Crucifixion for his church.
The Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge with Christopher Robinson and Cristopher Whitton, organ.
Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice
Lo, the full, final Sacrifice
On which all figures fix’t their eyes.
The ransomed Isaac, and his ram;
The Manna, and the Paschal Lamb.
Jesu Master, just and true!
Our Food, and faithful Shepherd too!
O let that love which thus makes thee
Mix with our low Mortality,
Lift our lean Souls, and set us up
Convictors of thine own full cup,
Coheirs of Saints. That so all may
Drink the same wine; and the same way.
Nor change the Pasture, but the Place
To feed of Thee in thine own Face.
O dear Memorial of that Death
Which lives still, and allows us breath!
Rich, Royal food! Bountiful Bread!
Whose use denies us to the dead!
Live ever Bread of loves, and be
My life, my soul, my surer self to me.
Help Lord, my Faith, my Hope increase;
And fill my portion in thy peace.
Give love for life; nor let my days
Grow, but in new powers to thy name and praise.
Rise, Royal Sion! rise and sing
Thy soul’s kind shepherd, thy heart’s King.
Stretch all thy powers; call if you can
Harps of heaven to hands of man.
This sovereign subject sits above
The best ambition of thy love.
Lo the Bread of Life, this day’s
Triumphant Text provokes thy praise.
The living and life-giving bread,
To the great twelve distributed
When Life, himself, at point to die
Of love, was his own Legacy.
O soft self-wounding Pelican!
Whose breast weeps Balm for wounded man.
All this way bend thy benign flood
To a bleeding Heart that gasps for blood.
That blood, whose least drops sovereign be
To wash my worlds of sins from me.
Come love! Come Lord! and that long day
For which I languish, come away.
When this dry soul those eyes shall see,
And drink the unseal’d source of thee.
When Glory’s sun faith’s shades shall chase,
And for thy veil give me thy Face.