September 14th: the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

An excerpt from the 8th-century poem The Dream of the Rood. It is one of the earliest known examples of Christian devotional poetry. In it, the narrator dreams of a beautiful cross covered with gold and jewels, wondrous to see. As he draws closer, however, the cross starts to bleed. It then speaks to him:

“‘Twas long ago (I remember it still)

That I was hewn at end of a grove,

Stripped from off my stem; strong foes laid hold of me there,

Wrought for themselves a show, bade felons raise me up;

Men bore me on their shoulders, till on a mount they set me;

Fiends many fixed me there. Then saw I mankind’s Lord

Hasten with mickle might, for He would sty upon me;

There durst I not ‘gainst word of the Lord

Bow down or break, when saw I tremble

The surface of earth; I might then all

My foes have felled, yet fast I stood.

The Hero young begirth Himself, Almighty God was He,

Strong and stern of mind; He stied on the gallows high,

Bold in sight of many, for man He would redeem.

I shook when the Hero clasped me, yet durst not bow to earth,

Fall to surface of earth, but firm I must there stand.

A rood was I upreared; I raised the mighty King,

The Lord of Heaven; I durst not bend me.

They drove their dark nails through me; the wounds are seen upon me,

The open gashes of guile; I durst harm none of them.

They mocked us both together; all moistened with blood was I,

Shed from side of the man, when forth He sent His spirit.

Many have I on that mount endured

Of cruel fates; I saw the Lord of Hosts

Strongly outstretched; darkness had then

Covered with clouds the corse of the Lord,

The brilliant brightness; the shadow continued,

Wan ‘neath the welkin. There wept all creation,

Bewailed the King’s death; Christ was on the cross.

Yet hastening thither they came from afar

To the Son of the King: that all I beheld.

Now the time is come,

That me shall honor both far and wide

Men upon earth, and all this mighty creation

Will pray to this beacon. On me God’s Son

Suffered awhile; so glorious now

I tower to Heaven, and I may heal

Each one of those who reverence me.

The rest may be found here.


Your human nature gripped by fear

Though union’d with Divinity

You grasp at root, at dust, at stone

Lor Jesus, on Your knees, alone.


The night so still, an eerie glow

interrupts shadows cast by the moon

No wind to sift through leaves below

Stark silence since the upper room.


As moments pass, chest heaves in pain

You see the wrong that I will do

Yet endure gladly for my stain

To draw my heart nearer to You.


Allow me, Lord, to come and help

You get up off Your knees

To wipe the blood-sweat off Your face

Your agony appease.


Not e’en one hour I wait with You

Now on Your knees again

I drift to sleep whilst You pour out 

Your heartfelt plea for men.


Though spirit willing, flesh is weak

And my will, weaker still

You make me know it’s You I seek

that You alone fulfil


The night wears on and You, O Lord,

begin to tire from grief

Tormented by our hardened hearts

our sins, our unbelief.


I would not dare to interfere

with Your foretold redemptive act

But let me walk the way with You

At least in prayer if not in fact.


Now others to the garden come

Your victory will soon be won.

You freely choose the bitter cup

To torture and death You give Yourself up


Taken by thugs, betrayed by a friend

Your death: our bond with Father, mend.


By AfterEpiphany, written during her postulant year.