1. Faithful Cross, sustain your burden,
Do not splinter, do not crack.
Though the load of all our sorrows
Hangs a dead weight on your back;
Upright on a hill of sadness
In the gale of evil’s power.
Hold him strongly, hold him gently
At his covenanted hour.
2. Nameless in the forest mounting,
Shoot and sapling, branch and tree,
Felled, dismembered, planed and jointed
For this day’s dark mystery.
Gibbet, infamous, ennobled
By this death and by this birth,
Hold your cross-grained branches open,
Harbour for a shipwrecked earth.
3. When, the noontide darkness ending,
He whom you have borne is dead,
In his mother’s arms laid gently,
You are left untenanted:
Sharp against the soul’s horizon
Still uphold us, shining tree,
Emblem of the Saviour’s passion,
Standard of his victory.
—words: ‘Crux Fidelis’ by Kevin Nichols (1929–2006),
priest-poet of St Mary’s Cathedral,
from Decryptions published at the Cathedral in April 2006;
music: traditional French melody,
adapted by Giovanni Pergolesi (1710–1836)