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Vedic Hymns

Word count: 1035

Song Cycle by Gustav Holst (1874 - 1934)

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1. Ushas (Dawn)

Behold the Dawn, the fairest of all visions,
Day's glory now appears.
Arise! For the night hath fled!
Arise and greet the Dawn.
Welcome her! Unveiled she now appeareth,
All things greet her radiant smile.
Borne by wingèd horse and car
She steals across the sky.
Child of heav'n arrayed in shining garments,
Blushing maiden draw thou near:
Sovran lady of earth and sky,
We hail thee as our queen.
Heav'n's breath awakeneth creation,
The sky is all aflame,
Th'eastern Portals open wide.
The Sun draws nigh.
Greeting thee, the holy fire ascendeth,
Greeting thee, our hymns arise,
Greeting thee, the Sun appeareth,
Greeting thee, thy worshippers
Bow down and bless and adore.

2. Varuna I (Sky)

Oh thou great judge, Varuna,
Day after day we break thy holy laws.
Oh let us not be yielded up to Death to be destroyèd,
To be destroyèd in thy wrath.

To gain forgiveness, Varuna,
In deepest woe I raise to thee my chant:
Behold, it riseth up towards thy holy throne to beg
for mercy,
As flies the bird unto his nest.

Thou knowest all, Varuna,
Thou knowest the pathway of the moon and wind,
Thy laws throughout eternity endure, thou mighty
And to thy judgement all must come.

He doth appear! My cry is answered!
I am delivered from my sin.

3. Maruts (Stormclouds)

Mighty Warriors,
Children of Thunder,
Glorious Maruts,
Heralds of storm!
Through the gloom 
Gathering round us
Ye and your horses
Appear in the sky;
Glowing like flames
From the holy fire
That springs from the altar,
Rising to God.

Flashing sword blades,
Tramping of horses,
Shouting of riders
Fill the sky!
Ye are seen
Spreading a mantle,
Cov'ring the heavens
And hiding the sun.
Then from above 'midst
The lightning's bright gleam,
Rejoicing in freedom,
Falleth the rain.

Rushing onward
Hurling your weapons,
Chanting your war songs
Nearer ye come!
We would fain
Welcome you fitly,
But faint are our voices
And feeble our lays.
Come then, dwell within us,
With your power inspire our hearts,
Then shall our songs,
Like clouds expanding,
Carry your glory
Throughout the world.

4. Indra (God of Storm and Battle)

Noblest of songs for the noblest of Gods!
A song that shall reach to the throne of Indra,
The Lord of the sky!
Radiant with light, thou dost ride through the
The Holy Ones rush forth to greet the monarch,
Who ruleth the sky!

Lo! to thy shrine we come, pouring libations.
Swelling like mighty floods, our hymns rise to heav'n,
Yoking thy steeds to thy swift flying chariot,
Bringing thee earthward to aid us in battle,
Filling our hearts with valour and strength,
With strength as of heroes!

Like to the river expanding the sea,
Our loud swelling song shall increase
Thy glory o'er earth and sky.
Lover of sacrifice, lover of singing,
Loud-voiced Thunderer,
Shaker of mountains and Lord of the sky.

5. Varuna II (The Waters)

'Fore mine eyes,
Yawning and hungry,
Looms the grave.
Spare me, O great Varuna.
Tossed by winds,
Trembling and faint,
I come to thee.
Spare me, O great Varuna!
Mighty God!
Waters o'erwhelm me
Swiftly rising.
Spare me, O great Varuna!
Yet within,
Thirst fiercely burning
Gnaws my heart.
Spare me, O great Varuna.

6. Song of the Frogs

Throughout the summer they were lying,
Their skins were scorching in the sun,
Now the rain hath wakened their voices,
Their singing hath begun,
And welcoming each other,
They rise and quench their thirst.
And one repeats another's greeting,
In courtly words polite and mild,
As a scholar learning a lesson,
A father teaching his child.
With eloquence and wisdom
They swell and seem to burst.
"Brothers rise and join the throng
Our throats are moist and ripe for song.
So pray you bellow like a cow,
Or bleat like goat, or grunt like sow."

Like Brahmans sitting round the altar,
Who loudly talk of holy rite,
Round the pool the frogs are ranging
With speech and song and fight.
Their year-long vow of silence
Hath ended with the Rain.
The joyous earth is now reviving,
The trees and flowers now arise,
And our hearts go forth in gladness
To greet the noisy cries.
The singing of the Frogs
Hath brought wealth to us again.
"Brothers rise and join the throng
Our throats are moist and ripe for song.
So pray you bellow like a cow,
Or bleat like goat, or grunt like sow."

7. Vac (Speech)

I, the queen of all,
First of those that mankind worship,
Worthy of all praise,
I proclaim aloud my wisdom.
Hearken unto me,
My word is true:
Unto God and Man
I bring blessing,
Pouring forth my wealth,
Making wise the man I cherish.
Through me each one lives,
Each one breathes and sees and hearkens.
All unite in me,
I alone sustain creation,
Compassing the earth
I reach t'ward heav'n.
In the water's depth
I have my dwelling,
On the summit of the universe
I bring forth the Father.
Beyond the earth and sky
I reign in my mystic grandeur.

8. Creation

Then, Life was not!
Non-life was not!
No vast expanse of air,
Nor vaster realm of sky that lies beyond.
Was water there, the deep abyss of ocean?
Then, Death was not!
Non-death was not!
No change of day and night.
And, cov'ring all, the gloom was lost in gloom.
All was unseen, One universe unknown.
Then there was One! One alone!
Calm and self-existing:
Beyond and apart was naught.
Then up rose Desire,
Fierce glowing Desire.
The seed of spirit,
The germ of mind,
The source of life,
Begetting mighty forces,
All heaved in restless motion.
Who then knows,
Who can now declare
Whence cometh creation?
He the Primal One whose
Eye controlleth all things,
He alone doth know it,
Or perchance even 
He knoweth it not!

9. Faith

By Thee the fire doth shine
Upon the sacred altar:
To Thee we raise our song of joy and homage,
Most Holy Faith!
By Thee the gen'rous heart
Is blessed with wealth and wisdom:
To Thee he giveth all in humble gladness,
Most Holy Faith!

By Thee the prayers are heard
That rise in silent worship:
To Thee mankind and God are drawing nearer,
Most Holy Faith!
By Thee inspired, our song
Ascendeth ever higher
To Thee at early morn, at noon, at even,
Most Holy Faith!

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