Friday, 23 March 2012

An old house on an ancient site on the banks of the Dodder

Templeogue House ... stands on a site dating back to the Knights Templar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

On my way home from work this evening, I stopped to have a look at Templeogue House, now known as Saint Michael’s House. The house has a history that dates back perhaps 800 years ago, and has been the home of knights and writers, judges and politicians, and even an aristocrat who was willing to threaten the life and health of Dublin City to protect his family’s interests.

In the mid-13th century, the River Dodder was diverted into an open channel through the grounds of the present Templeogue House, forming the Dublin City Watercourse. The Knights Templar are said to have built a castle or house later on the site of Templeogue House, and this Templar house or castle was later replaced by or incorporated into Templeogue Castle.

Although there is no clear evidence of the 13th-century city watercourse, archaeologists have found early watercourses that predate the building of Templeogue Castle ca 1550. By the mid-16th century, the castle was home to the Talbot family. Richard Talbot, who died here in 1577, controlled the watercourse that ran close to his house and was Second Justice of the Common Bench.

By 1615, Templeogue Church, Teach Mealóg, the Church of Saint Meal Óg, was in ruins. Forty years later, when Theobald Harold was the steward of Templeogue in 1655, there was a castle in good repair, a mill, a house out of repair; some cottages and Templeogue had a population of 40 people.

Henry Talbot was ordered to be transplanted to Connacht. In the Cromwellian era, but the Talbot family recovered Templeogue Castle after the Caroline restoration. His son, Colonel James Talbot, leased Templeogue House to Sir Thomas Domvile in 1686 for £3,000.

Talbot was a Jacobite officer in the Irish army of James II, and Templeogue Castle is one of several mansions in which King James is said to have slept on the night after his defeat at the Battle of the Bone in 1690. Talbot was outlawed by the Williamites and when he died in action the following year at the Battle of Aughrim, Domville gained full possession of Templeogue Castle.

Templeogue House incorporates a tower and other parts of the fabric of the earlier Templeogue Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Domville built a brick house, incorporating fabric of the earlier castle, including a tower and an undercroft. When he died in 1721, the house and lands passed to his son, Sir Compton Domvile, who rebuilt the house and laid out the gardens in 1730s. Archaeologists believe the new house involved renovating the castle rather than building a completely new house, and he built an 18th-century brick-lined outhouse behind the tower.

His extensive improvements to the grounds included dramatic ornamental water gardens with ponds and cascades. This involved diverting the old City Watercourse, and a new millpond and millrace were created to the south of the house, replacing an earlier mill shown on the Down Survey.

Sir Compton Domville became the subject of controversy in when he obtained a pardon for his nephew, Henry Barry, Lord Santry, who was convicted of the murder of a servant at Palmerston Fair in 1738. Compton threatened to cut the city water supply at the watercourse in Templeogue unless Lord Santry was reprieved.

The reprieved but disgraced Lord Santry was finally forced to leave Ireland, and the Domville family inherited the Santry estate on the northside of Dublin. Sir Compton Domville lived at Templeogue House from 1751 until his death in 1768.

His nephew, Charles Pocklington inherited his property and took the name of Domville. He lived at Templeogue until 1780. But by then the house was in a bad state of repair and he left it and moved to Santry House, taking with him many ornamental features from Templeogue House, including the circular temple.

Although Santy became the family’s principal residence, the Domvilles continued to hold on to Templeogue House, and in the 19th century the house was still said to have a great courtyard, impregnably high walls and gate piers 20 feet high, each topped with globes of granite, an old Dutch waterfall, terraced walks, gigantic grottoes, extensive gardens, and avenues of trees.

The house was then owned by Sir Compton Pocklington Domville of Templeogue House and Santry House, who had an estate of over 6,000 acres in Co Dublin. He was a son-in-law of Bishop Charles Lindsay of Kildare, and in 1815 was given the tile of baronet. When he stood as the Conservative candidate in the Westminster by-election for Co Dublin in 1823, he was defeated 994-49 by Colonel Henry White, who had the support of Daniel O’Connell and the Catholic interest.

In 1842, he leased Templeogue House to the writer Charles James Lever, who had become the editor of the Dublin University Magazine that year. Lever lived here for about two years and wrote some of his novels in the tower of the house. The literary notables entertained here included William Thackeray.

His biographer says Lever “held aloof from general society in Dublin ... Genial men whom he brought to his house made it most enjoyable. Men of wit and letters were by degrees recruited, generally summoned by such welcome missives as ‘Come and dine to meet the Magazine’.” But in the winter of 1844, Lever left Dublin to live in Italy, and he died at Trieste in 1872 at the age of 62.

Templeogue House was bought in 1919 by Bernard Daly who sold it in 1945 to Henry White, a gown manufacturer. The Maynooth Mission to China (Columban Fathers) bought the house in 1958 and sold it to Crampton housing in 1972. It is now known as Saint Michael’s House.

It is not clear whether any parts of the original castle survive in the fabric of the present building is still unclear, but archaeologists believe significant parts of the castle remain, and that they probably include the front part of the present building, lower and upper ground floors and upper floor, the undercroft and an early layer of cobbling forming the undercroft floor, and the tower to the north-east of the house.

A series of archaeological investigations took place at Templeogue House from 1996 to 2006, and significant parts of the first-floor timber floor have been dated to the 1630s or early 1640s. A badly preserved ceiling behind the ornate 1730s plaster ceiling of the room to the west of the lower ground floor may date from the 17th century.

During the excavations in the undercroft in 1996, an important collection of artefacts was recovered, including glass and pottery vessels from the 17th to the 19th century, the majority from the early 18th century. They include glass bottles, imported ceramic bottles, and some unusual wine-glass fragments. The table glass, from the 1670s or 1680s, was of exceptional quality and may be among the largest and most diverse collection of late 17th-century table glass that has yet been excavated anywhere.

Meanwhile, the Domville family continued to live in Santry House until the 1940s, when they moved to England.

Meanwhile, in 1912, the only surviving daughter of Sir William Compton Domvile, 3rd Baronet, Mary Adelaide Domville, married Hucheson Poë, who was given a new title that year. He was also a Senator of the Irish Free State in 1922-1924.

Their only son, Hugo Compton Domvile Poë, was declared of unsound mind in 1929. When his father died in 1934, he inherited the title, and when his mother died he became eligible to inherit the Domville estates in Dublin, on condition that he adopt the surname and arms of Domvile. As there were doubts about whether this could be done for a person of unsound mind, a private act of the Oireachtas was passed in 1936 to change his name to Hugo Compton Domvile Poë Domvile and his arms to a quartering of the Poë and Domvile arms.

This last title became extinct when Sir Hugo died in 1959, and so came to an end the line of the Domvilles of Templeogue.

For other postings on the architectural heritage of South Dublin see:

Berwick Hall.
The Bottle Tower, Churchtown.
Brookvale House, Rathfarnham.
Camberley House, Churchtown.
Dartry House, Orwell Park, Rathfarnham.
Ely Arch, Rathfarnham.
Ely House, Nutgrove Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Fernhurst, 14 Orwell Road, Rathgar.
Fortfield House, Hyde Park, Terenure.
No 201 Harold’s Cross Road, the birthplace of Richard Allen.
Homestead, Sandyford Road, Dundrum.
Kilvare House, also known as Cheeverstown House, Templeogue Road.
Knocklyon Castle.
Laurelmere Lodge, Marlay Park.
Marlay Park.
Mountain View House, Beaumont Avenue, Churchtown.
Newbrook House, Taylor’s Lane, Rathfarnham.
Old Bawn House, Tallaght.
Rathfarnham Castle.
Sally Park, Fihouse.
Scholarstown House, Knocklyon.
Silveracre House, off Sarah Curran Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Synge House, Newtwon Villas, Churchtown, and No 4 Orwell Park, Rathgar.
Templeogue House.
Washington House, Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham.
Westbourne House, off Rathfarnham Road.

‘Receive all who need human love and fellowship’

Nicodemus helps with the burial of Christ

Patrick Comerford

Friday 23 March 2012,

8.30 a.m., The Eucharist

Jeremiah 26: 8-11; Psalm 34: 15-22; John 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30.


May I speak to you in the name of + the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Our Old Testament and Gospel readings have been chosen in the Church of Ireland Daily Lectionary this morning because they offer parallels between the plots against Jeremiah and against Jesus, leading eventually to arrest, condemnation and death.

It is interesting how, despite the efforts of the authorities at this stage of the Gospel story, we are told “no one had laid hands on him.”

In many ways, your challenge as priests is going to be to help people to lay hands on Jesus.

You will want to teach them to lay hands on the Gospel, so that the Word of God becomes theirs. You will want them to hold the Gospels so tightly in their hands that, in the words of that well-loved collect, they learn “to read mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the Gospels, and make them their own.

Inwardly digest?

Gospel-greedy people?

Gobbling up Scripture?

It is a wonderful image.

And you will want to administer the sacrament to them, not as an arcane ritual that the holy huddle remain behind after “mangled Matins,” but as the bread of life and our spiritual drink … for the whole people of God, so that we truly realise that we being many are one body, for we all share in the one bread.

Time and again you have realised in the past, and time and again, I hope, you will realise that Christ has “laid hands” on you, has grabbed hold of, has made you a prisoner for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

And when you go to parishes as curates, it matters not whether your parish is your first, second or third choice today.

What matters is whether Christ has grabbed hold of you, and you are grabbing hold of Christ. We are here not to serve ourselves but to serve the Kingdom of God and those who are being called into that Kingdom.

Perhaps you might like to keep in mind that prayer of Thomas Ken (1637-1711), Bishop of Bath and Wells, inscribed on the door of Saint Stephen’s Wallbrook in London:

O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship; narrow enough to shut out all envy pride and strife, Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children nor straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter's power. God make the door of this house the gateway to thine eternal kingdom. Amen.

At our Community Eucharist on Wednesday evening, [the Revd] Colin [McConaghie] was talking about the conversation in the dark between Christ and Nicodemus (John 3: 14-21).

There are two other references to Nicodemus in this Gospel. One comes later in the chapter we have been reading from this morning – it’s the Gospel reading for tomorrow morning (John 7: 40-52).

From someone who is questioning first of all, and is so afraid that he comes to talk to Christ in the dark, Nicodemus moves on in this chapter to becoming someone brave enough to speak up against the plot to arrest Jesus.

And then, in Chapter 19, Nicodemus comes to anoint the body of Christ after he has been taken down from the Cross.

So, perhaps you can identify with that development of the faith and discipleship of Nicodemus – from fear and questioning, to bravery and speaking up, to acting and wanting to hold for himself the Body of Christ. Do you recognise in that your own journey?

Sometimes, when I have taken hold of the Holy Communion, both presiding and as a recipient, I find myself kissing my hands afterwards. To hold the Body of Christ, as Nicodemus does, is, paradoxically, both an awesome and a liberating experience, not just tinged but filled with love.

Has Christ taken hold of you?

Be in awe of him.

Have you taken hold of Christ?

Be freed.

Do not worry this afternoon about which rectors or parishes did not place you on their list. If you have Christ at the top of your list, and know that Christ has you at the top of his list – for it is he who calls you – then all is going to be well.

Love the call, love the journey, love God’s people, love Christ, and know that Christ loves you. And then, in the words of Julian of Norwich, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This reflection was shared at the early morning Eucharist in the institute chapel on 23 March 2012.

Poems for Lent (28): ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins


Patrick Comerford

My choice of a Poem for Lent this morning is ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889). Hopkins was an English Jesuit who spent much of his life in Dublin. He is counted among the leading Victorian poets, was a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse, and was a close contact of many of the leading poets, theologians and artists of the day.

Hopkins was born on 28 July 1844 in Stratford, east of London, the first of nine children to Manley and Catherine (Smith) Hopkins. His father, who was once the British consul general in Hawaii, was for a time the churchwarden at Saint John-at-Hampstead. He was also a published writer and reviewed poetry for The Times. Both parents were deeply religious High Church Anglicans.

The poet’s first ambitions were to be a painter, and he sketched throughout his life, inspired, as an adult, by the work of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites.

In 1852, the Hopkins family moved to Hampstead in 1852, and he was sent to Highgate School as a boarder. He went up to Oxford to study classics at Balliol College (1863–1867), and there he developed a life-long friendship with the future Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges. As a student, Hopkins was deeply impressed with the work of Christina Rossetti, who became one of his greatest influences, and a follower of Henry Parry Liddon and Edward Pusey, the last member of the original Oxford Movement. There too he wrote this morning’s poem, ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ in 1865.

However, early in the following year (1866), he included poetry in the list of things he was giving up for Lent. That July, he decided to become a Roman Catholic, and John Henry Newman received him into the church on 21 October 1866. In 1868, he made a bonfire of his poems and gave up writing poetry almost entirely for seven years.

The decision to become a Roman Catholic estranged him from his family and many of his friends. After his graduation in 1867, Newman appointed him to a teaching post at the Oratory in Birmingham. There he felt a call to priesthood and decided to become a Jesuit. He began his Jesuit novitiate at Manresa House, Roehampton, in 1868 and moved to Saint Mary’s Hall, Stonyhurst, to study philosophy in 1870.

In 1874, he returned to Manresa House to teach classics. While he was studying theology at Saint Beuno’s near St Asaph in North Wales, he was asked by his religious superior to write a poem to mark the foundering of a German ship in a storm, and wrote a lengthy poem, ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland,’ that displays both the religious concerns and some of the unusual meter and rhythms of his later poetry.

‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ was accepted for publication by a Jesuit journal, but was never published. This rejection fuelled his ambivalence about his poetry, and most of his poetry remained unpublished until after his death. On the other hand, he found an embracing welcome and inspiration in St Asaph (which received city status earlier this month).

Hopkins failed his final theology examination, and believed this would impede his progress among the Jesuits. He was ordained in 1877, the same year he wrote or completed ‘God’s Grandeur’ ‘The Starlight Night,’ ‘The Windhover,’ and ‘The Sea and the Skylark.’

Newman House, Saint Stephen’s Green, Dublin, where Gerard Manley Hopkins died (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

He began teaching at Mount Saint Mary’s College, Chesterfield, and served as a curate in London, Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, before going on to teach Greek and Latin at Mount Saint Mary’s College, Sheffield, and Stonyhurst College, Lancashire. He moved to Dublin in 1884, when he became Professor of Greek and Examiner in Classics at the Catholic University of Ireland (later the Royal University of Ireland and University College Dublin).

But he did not like living in Dublin, where he felt confined and dejected and that he had failed both his religious vocation and his poetic calling. After suffering ill health for several years, he died in Newman House on Saint Stephen’s Green on Saturday 8 June 1889, just short of his 45th birthday . After a funeral Mass in Saint Francis Xavier Church, Gardiner Street, he was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.

His last words on his deathbed were: “I am so happy, I am so happy. I loved my life.”

‘At morn we found the heavenly Bread’ ... fresh bread in Hindley’s Bakery in Tamworth Street, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Reading the poem

‘Barnfloor and Winepress’ was written in 1865, while Hopkins was an undergraduate at Oriel College, Oxford, and while he was still an Anglican. ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ which draws on George Herbert’s poems ‘Love’ and more especially ‘The Bunch of Grapes,’ points to the origins of the Church and its liturgy, Hopkins illustrates how the Great Sacrifice of Christ – the Bread of Life (John 6: 32-36), and “real vine” (John 15: 1) – comes to be the “firm foundation” (Matthew 7: 24-26) on which to build the true, everlasting covenant between God and humanity.

The poem paves the road for Hopkins’s subsequent acceptance of the Roman Catholic belief in transubstantiation. He focuses on the spatial realms of barnfloor and winepress – Church horizontals as it were – which, taking part in the true “joy of harvest,” are both directly involved in the Eucharistic processing of grain and grape, whose images (“bruised sore” and “scourged upon the threshing floor,” then “racked”) represent Christ’s body being first tortured and then crucified.

Thrown away, “leafless, lifeless, dry,” the “riv’n Vine” bore its “terrible fruit” on Easter morning, when it reappeared as “the Tree.” Not only did it spread over the whole world, but it became a new axis mundi, a vertical beam linking heaven and earth.

The Church, as God’s answer to humanity in need, is the sign of the invitation for “the weary” to “come into its shade” and a reminder of the strength and sustenance given in the Eucharist.

‘At morn we found the heavenly Bread’ ... fresh bread in a shop in Liverpool (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hopkins opens the poem by citing an Old Testament passage as an epigraph and includes several biblical phrases and images throughout the poem. Addressing the sinner and perhaps even the unbeliever, Hopkins, the Christian, announces the wonderful gifts that Christ purchased by means of his sacrifice:

Thou that on sin’s wages starvest
Behold we have the joy in harvest:
For us was gather’d the first-fruits,
For us was lifted from the roots,
Sheaved in cruel bands, bruised sore
Scourged upon the threshing-floor;
Where the upper mill-stone roof’d His head,
At morn we found the heavenly Bread
And, on a thousand altars laid,
Christ our sacrifice is made!


Hopkins binds together an extraordinarily complex range of biblical allusions, uniting them in a series of closely related paradoxes.

He cites the idea that the Eucharist, the “heavenly Bread,” came as the antetype of the Levitical “first-fruits.” He also alludes to Genesis 3: 15 when he mentions that Christ was “bruised sore.” But his central conceit is taken from the images of barnfloor and winepress that appear in the Bible, from the Book Numbers through to the Revelation of Saint John the Divine.

The poem’s epigraph comes from 2 Kings 6: 27: “And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? Out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?” These lines telling the sinner that God is his only hope are taken from a rather grisly episode in the Bible. When the Syrians besieged Samaria, the people had nothing to eat:

Now as the king of Israel was walking on the city wall, a woman cried out to him, ‘Help, my lord king!’ He said, ‘No! Let the Lord help you. How can I help you? From the threshing-floor [barnfloor] or from the wine press?’ But then the king asked her, ‘What is your complaint?’ She answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give up your son; we will eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.” So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, “Give up your son and we will eat him.” But she has hidden her son.’ When the king heard the words of the woman he tore his clothes (2 Kings 6: 26-30).

Hopkins serves several purposes by citing this grisly episode from biblical history in a poem about Christ’s sacrifice.

1, Firstly, this story of cannibalism illustrates forcefully our fallen nature and our need for a Saviour.

2, Secondly, this story of evil acts as a powerful contrast between the true and false sacrifice of a son to preserve life.

3, Thirdly, the allusion to the linked terms, “barnfloor and winepress,” evokes the many complex associations they have throughout the Bible.

In Numbers 18: 26-27, when God instructs Moses on the nature of the priestly office, he tells him that when the Levites receive a tithe from the people they must first offer up one-tenth of it as an offering before they can retain the rest: “It shall be reckoned to you as your gift, the same as the grain of the threshing-floor and the fullness of the wine press.” The priests retain nine-tenths of the tithe as “it is your payment for your service in the tent of meeting” (Numbers 18: 31).

This early Biblical linking of the images of the barnfloor (or “threshing-floor”) and the winepress have theological significance in several ways:

1, Firstly, the barnfloor and the winepress are the places where bread and wine begin to be made from wheat and grapes, and signify human sustenance from the work of human hands.

2, Secondly, since the barnfloor and the winepress call to mind bread and wine, they prefigure the Eucharist.

3, Thirdly, because this passage contains directions for priestly conduct, it prefigures Christian priesthood, tithing, and the relationship between priests and their congregation.

4, Fourthly, since it mentions a sacrifice taken as a type of Christ, the passage also refers to him and his sacrifice. This passage in the Book Numbers, like so many others in the Pentateuch, the first five Books of the Bible, is interpreted in terms of looking forward to Christ as both priest and sacrifice.

‘We shout with them that tread the grapes: / For us the Vine was fenced with thorn’ ...grapes on sale on a market stall in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

These images of the barnfloor and the winepress also suggest the ideas of the slave and the liberator, for in Deuteronomy 15: 13-14 God instructs the Israelites to free all Hebrew slaves every seven years: “And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing-floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you.”

This law is a reminder that God freed the people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to prosperity. This connection of barnfloor and winepress to political liberation appears again in the Book of Judges: “The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian for seven years” (Judge 6: 1), and the Midianites stole or destroyed their crops. Gideon, who was threshing or “beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites” (Judges 6: 11), is told by an angel of the Lord to lead the people in battle, and they are victorious. Once again, they learn that falling away from God leads to punishment, defeat and privation. But, when the children of God are at their lowest and most in need, God sends someone to save them.

In Jeremiah 48: 33, God “stopped the wine from the wine presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy; the shouting is not the shout of joy.” Elsewhere, God punishes humanity by treading humanity in the winepress. In Lamentations 1: 15, “The Lord has rejected all my warriors in the midst of me; he proclaimed a time against me to crush my young men; the Lord has trodden as in a wine press the virgin daughter Judah.” Similarly, in Isaiah 63: 3, the Lord announces: “I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their juice spattered on my garments, and stained all my robes.”

This passage prophesying divine punishment is then fulfilled in Revelation 14: 18-20, when the angel gathers the “vine of the earth” and throws it “into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.”

Hopkins draws on these readings and others to work through a number of paradoxes in ‘Barnfloor and Winepress’:

● Christ is both the sacrificing priest and the sacrificial victim.
●True, life-giving sustenance comes in feeding the soul with the Eucharist and not in feeding the body.
●Christ, who is both victim and conqueror, treads the winepress and is crushed by it.

One of Hopkins’s central organising ideas is that true beauty, true life and true victory are achieved only, as Christ has shown, by being bruised and crushed, and Christ triumphs over sin and death by giving himself to be bruised in the Crucifixion.

In ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ Hopkins emphasises how Christ, “Sheaved in cruel bands, bruised sore” brought humanity new life, the Tree of Life, by his sacrifice then and His continuing sacrifice now, which is the Eucharist:

For us by Calvary’s distress
The wine was racked from the press;
Now in our altar-vessels stored
Is the sweet Vintage of our Lord.


Emphasising the element of paradox that derives from Christ’s combination of being conquered and conqueror, Hopkins tells us that He was “Sheaved in cruel bands” and later, near the poem’s close, that Christ has saved all and “sheaved us in His sheaf.”

‘At morn we found the heavenly Bread’ ... fresh bread in a shop window in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Barnfloor and Winepress, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

‘And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee?
Out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?’
– 2 Kings 6: 27.

Thou that on sin’s wages starvest,
Behold we have the joy in harvest:
For us was gather’d the first-fruits
For us was lifted from the roots,
Sheaved in cruel bands, bruised sore,
Scourged upon the threshing-floor;
Where the upper mill-stone roof’d His head,
At morn we found the heavenly Bread,
And on a thousand Altars laid,
Christ our Sacrifice is made!

Those whose dry plot for moisture gapes,
We shout with them that tread the grapes:
For us the Vine was fenced with thorn,
Five ways the precious branches torn;
Terrible fruit was on the tree
In the acre of Gethsemane;
For us by Calvary’s distress
The wine was rackèd from the press;
Now in our altar-vessels stored
Is the sweet Vintage of our Lord.

In Joseph’s garden they threw by
The riv’n Vine, leafless, lifeless, dry:
On Easter morn the Tree was forth,
In forty days reach’d Heaven from earth;
Soon the whole world is overspread;
Ye weary, come into the shade.

The field where he has planted us
Shall shake her fruit as Libanus,
When He has sheaved us in His sheaf,
When he has made us bear His leaf.—
We scarcely call that banquet food,
But even our Saviour’s and our blood,
We are so grafted on His wood.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin