by Anonymous / Unidentified Author

Canticle II (Abraham and Isaac)
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
God speaks (tenor and alto together):
 Abraham, my servant, Abraham,
 Take Isaac, thy son by name,
 That thou lovest the best of all,
 And in sacrifice offer him to me
 Upon that hill there besides thee.

 Abraham, I will that so it be,
 For aught that may befall.

 My Lord, to Thee is mine intent
 Ever to be obedient.
 That son that Thou to me hast sent
 Offer I will to Thee.
 Thy bidding done shall be.

(Here Abraham, turning him to his son Isaac, saith:)

 Make thee ready, my dear darling,
 For we must do a little thing.
 This woode do on thy back it bring,
 We may no longer abide.
 A sword and fire that I will take,
 For sacrifice behoves me to make;
 God's bidding will I not forsake,
 But ever obedient be.

(Here Isaac speaketh to his father, and taketh a bundle of
sticks and beareth after his father, and saith:)

 Father, I am all ready
 To do your bidding most meekely,
 And to bear this wood full [bayn]1 am I,
 As you commanded me.

(Here they both go to the place to do sacrifice)

 Now, Isaac son, go we our way
 To yonder mount if that we may.

 My dear father, I will essay
 To follow you full fain.

(Abraham being minded to slay his son Isaac, lifts up his
 hands, and saith the following:)

 O! My heart will break in three,
 To hear thy words I have pitye;
 As Thou wilt, Lord, so must it be,
 To Thee I will be bayn.
 Lay down thy faggot, my own son dear.

 All ready, father, lo it is here.
 But why make you such heavy cheer?
 Are you anything adread?

 Ah! Dear God! That me is woe!

 Father, if it be your will, 
 Where is the beast that we shall kill?

 Thereof, son, is none upon this hill.

 Father, I am full sore affeared
 To see you bear that drawne sword.

 Isaac, son, peace, I pray thee,
 Thou breakest my heart even in three.

 I pray you, father, [layn]2 nothing from me,
 But tell me what you think.

 Ah! Isaac, Isaac, I must thee kill!

 Alas! Father, is that your will,
 Your owne child for to spill
 Upon this hilles brink?
 If I have trespassed in any degree
 With a yard you may beat me;
 Put up your sword, if your will be,
 For I am but a child.
 Would God my mother were here with me!
 She would kneel down upon her knee,
 Praying you, father, if it may be,
 For to save my life.

 O Isaac, son, to thee I say
 God hath commanded me today
 Sacrifice, this is no nay,
 To make of thy bodye.

 Is it God's will I shall be slain?

 Yea, son, it is not for to layn.

(Here Isaac asketh his father's blessing on his knees, and saith:)

 Father, seeing you mustë needs do so,
 Let it pass lightly and over go;
 Kneeling on my knees two,
 Your blessing on me spread.
 My blessing, dear son, give I thee
 And thy mother's with heart free.
 The blessing of the Trinity,
 My dear Son, on thee light.

(Here Isaac riseth and cometh to his father, and he taketh him,
 and bindeth and layeth him upon the altar to sacrifice him, and

 Come hither, my child, thou art so sweet,
 Thou must be bound both hands and feet.

 Father, do with me as you will,
 I must obey, and that is skill,
 Godës commandment to fulfil,
 For needs so it must be.

 Isaac, Isaac, blessed must thou be.

 Father, greet well my brethren ying,
 And pray my mother of her blessing,
 I come no more under her wing,
 Farewell for ever and aye.

 Farewell, my sweetë son of grace!

(Here Abraham doth kiss his son Isaac, and binds a kerchief about his

 I pray you, father, turn down my face,
 For I am sore adread.

 Lord, full loth were I him to kill!

 Ah, mercy, father, why tarry you so?
 Jesu! On me have pity,
 That I have most in mind.

 Now, father, I see that I shall die:
 Almighty God in majesty!
 My soul I offer unto Thee!

 To do this deed I am sorrye.

(Here let Abraham make a sign as tho' he would cut off his son
 Isaac's head with his sword; then...)

God speaks:
 Abraham, my servant dear,
 Lay not thy sword in no manner
 On Isaac, thy dear darling.
 For thou dreadest me, well wot I,
 That of thy son has no mercy,
 To fulfil my bidding.

 Ah, Lord of heaven and King of bliss,
 Thy bidding shall be done, i-wiss!
 A hornëd wether here I see,
 Among the briars tied is he,
 To Thee offered shall he be
 Anon right in this place.

(Then let Abraham take the lamb and kill him.)

 Sacrifice here sent me is,
 And all, Lord, through Thy grace.

 Such obedience grant us, O Lord!
 Ever to Thy most holy word.
 That in the same we may accord
 At this Abraham was bayn;
 And then altogether shall we
 That worthy King in heaven see,
 And dwell with Him in great glorye
 For ever and ever. Amen.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 bayn: willing
2 layn: hide


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Érik Laloy) , title 1: "Canticle II", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 164
Word count: 898