About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“There is no music worth hearing save that written in the last 40 years.”
— Johannes Tinctoris (1477)
Upon the Image of Death
published 21 June 2012 by Jeff Ostrowski

By St. Robert Southwell (†1595), Martyr of Jesus Christ

Before my face the picture hangs That daily should put me in mind
Of those cold names and bitter pangs That shortly I am like to find ;
But yet, alas, full little I Do think hereon that I must die.

I often look upon a face Most ugly, grisly, bare, and thin ;
I often view the hollow place Where eyes and nose had sometimes been ;
I see the bones across that lie, Yet little think that I must die.

I read the label underneath, That telleth me whereto I must ;
I see the sentence eke that saith Remember, man, that thou art dust!
But yet, alas, but seldom I Do think indeed that I must die.

Continually at my bed’s head A hearse doth hang, which doth me tell
That I ere morning may be dead, Though now I feel myself full well ;
But yet, alas, for all this, I Have little mind that I must die.

The gown which I do use to wear, The knife wherewith I cut my meat,
And eke that old and ancient chair Which is my only usual seat,—
All these do tell me I must die, And yet my life amend not I.

My ancestors are turned to clay, And many of my mates are gone ;
My youngers daily drop away, And can I think to 'scape alone?
No, no, I know that I must die,
And yet my life amend not I.

Not Solomon for all his wit, Nor Samson, though he were so strong,
No king nor person ever yet Could 'scape but death laid him along ;
Wherefore I know that I must die, And yet my life amend not I.

Though all the East did quake to hear Of Alexander’s dreadful name,
And all the West did likewise fear To hear of Julius Cæsar’s fame,
Yet both by death in dust now lie ; Who then can 'scape but he must die?

If none can 'scape death’s dreadful dart, If rich and poor his beck obey,
If strong, if wise, if all do smart, Then I to 'scape shall have no way.
Oh, grant me grace, O God, that I My life may mend, sith I must die.

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