Try to get this song out of your head:
I first heard it in The Tudors, where it features in the final episode of season 2 – the episode where Anne Boleyn meets her end at the Tower. This haunting melody was a great choice to accompany the story of those sad events.
Though I first watched the episode months ago, I’ve only gotten around to actually looking up the words today. It seems like it could be a fitting text for Advent, because Advent is traditionally a time when we think about Christ’s future coming in glory. This poem is all about the longing for the “New Jerusalem,” which Christians believe will be established with that second Advent of Christ.
According to Cyber Hymnal, the words are ascribed to “F.B.P.”, thought to have been a Catholic priest, and the original manuscript, dated ca. 1583, is housed in the British Museum. It was published in Psalms and Hymns for Public or Private Devotion (Sheffield, England: Brittania Press, 1795).
In spite of her many faults, you can’t help feeling sorry for Anne Boleyn. I imagine this song might echo some of the yearnings she felt during her final days.
The text is very long, and I had a hard time finding the verses sung by Anuna on this recording, so I’ve bolded them below (though they’ve altered the words a bit).
Jerusalem, my happy home,
When shall I come to thee?
When shall my sorrows have an end?
Thy joys when shall I see?
O happy harbor of the saints!
O sweet and pleasant soil!
In thee no sorrow may be found,
No grief, no care, no toil.
In thee no sickness may be seen,
No hurt, no ache, no sore;
There is no death nor ugly devil,
There is life for evermore.
No dampish mist is seen in thee,
No cold nor darksome night;
There every soul shines as the sun;
For God himself gives light.
There lust and lucre cannot dwell;
There envy bears no sway;
There is no hunger, heat, nor cold,
But pleasure every way.
God grant that I may see
Thine endless joy, and of the same
Partaker ay may be!
Thy walls are made of precious stones,
Thy bulwarks diamonds square;
Thy gates are of right orient pearl;
Exceeding rich and rare;
Thy turrets and thy pinnacles
With carbuncles do shine;
Thy very streets are paved with gold,
Surpassing clear and fine;
Thy houses are of ivory,
Thy windows crystal clear;
Thy tiles are made of beaten gold—
O God that I were there!
Within thy gates nothing doth come
That is not passing clean,
No spider’s web, no dirt, no dust,
No filth may there be seen.
Aye, my sweet home, Jerusalem,
Would God I were in thee:
Would God my woes were at an end,
Thy joys that I might see.
Thy saints are crowned with glory great;
They see God face to face;
They triumph still, they still rejoice
Most happy is their case.
We that are here in banishment
Continually do mourn:
We sigh and sob, we weep and wail,
Perpetually we groan.
Our sweet is mixed with bitter gall,
Our pleasure is but pain:
Our joys scarce last the looking on,
Our sorrows still remain.
But there they live in such delight,
Such pleasure and such play,
As that to them a thousand years
Doth seem as yesterday.
Thy vineyards and thy orchards are
Most beautiful and fair,
Full furnished with trees and fruits,
Most wonderful and rare.
Thy gardens and thy gallant walks
Continually are green:
There grow such sweet and pleasant flowers
As nowhere else are seen.
There is nectar and ambrosia made,
There is musk and civet sweet;
There many a fair and dainty drug
Is trodden under feet.
There cinnamon, there sugar grows,
Here nard and balm abound.
What tongue can tell or heart conceive
The joys that there are found?
Quite through the streets with silver sound
The flood of life doth flow,
Upon whose banks on every side
The wood of life doth grow.
There trees for evermore bear fruit,
And evermore do spring;
There evermore the angels be,
And evermore do sing.
There David stands with harp in hand
As master of the choir:
Ten thousand times that man were blessed
That might this music hear.
Our Lady sings Magnificat
With tune surpassing sweet,
And all the virgins bear their part,
Sitting at her feet.
There Magdalen hath left her moan,
And cheerfully doth sing
With blessèd saints, whose harmony
In every street doth ring.
Jerusalem, my happy home,
Would God I were in thee!
Would God my woes were at an end
Thy joys that I might see!