Friday, January 30, 2015

King St. Charles the Martyr

The Society of King Charles the Martyr (SKCM) has an elegant website including the announcement of the services in remembrance of Charles I's beheading--which they describe as a martyrdom for the Church of England--held every year at the Banqueting House, Whitehall. The description of the day of this execution begins:

On the morning of 30th January, 1649 Charles awoke early and told his attendant Thomas Herbert, “this is my second marriage day… for before night I hope to be espoused to my blessed Jesus.” The winter weather was so severe that the Thames had frozen over. The King was concerned that the cold would make him shiver giving the appearance of shaking with fear, so he asked as he was dressed to be provided with an extra shirt for warmth (one of these shirts is kept at Windsor Castle and the other at the Museum of London).
William Juxon, Bishop of London, arrived to read Morning Prayer with the King and to administer the Sacrament. The Bishop read the lesson for the day, which was the account of the Passion of Christ. Charles thought that this passage had been especially chosen by the Bishop but was told that it was the proscribed lesson in the Prayer Book for that day. The King found this very reassuring.
At ten o’clock Colonel Hacker told the King that it was time to leave for Whitehall. Charles, Juxon and Herbert were escorted on foot from S.James’s Palace. Two companies of infantry guarded the route. The party was led through the inside of several buildings to avoid the gathering crowds. They passed over the upper floor of the Holbein Gate from where Charles would have seen the scaffold below and then into the Banqueting House.

The website also includes this poem/hymn by John Keble in honor of the king:

First published in 1827 as part of The Christian Year: Thoughts in verse for The Sundays and Holydays Throughout the Year.

“This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience towards God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” I S.Peter ii. 19

Praise to our Pardoning God! though silent now
The thunders of the deep prophetic sky,
Though in our sight no powers of darkness bow
Before th’ Apostles’ glorious company;

The Martyrs’ noble army is still ours,
far in the North our fallen days have seen
How in her woe the tenderest spirit, towers
For Jesus’ sake in agony serene.

Praise to our God! not cottage hearths alone,
And shades imperious to the proud world’s glare,
Such witness yield: a monarch from his throne
Springs to his Cross and finds his glory there.

Yes: wheresoe’er one trace of thee is found,
As in the sacred land, the shadows fall:
With beating hearts we roam the haunted ground,
Lone battle-field, or crumbling prison hall.

And there are aching solitary breasts,
Whose widow’d walk with thought of thee is cheer’d,
Our own, our royal Saint: thy memory rests
On many a prayer, the more for thee endear’d.

True son of our dear Mother, early taught
With her to worship and for her to die,
Nurs’d in her aisles to more than kingly thought,
Oft in her solemn hours we dream thee nigh.

For thou didst love to trace her daily lore,
And where we look for comfort or for calm,
Over the self-same lines to bend, and pour
Thy heart with hers in some victorious psalm.

And well did she thy loyal love repay:
When all foresook, her Angel still was nigh,
Chain’d and bereft, and on thy funeral way,
Straight to the Cross she turn’d thy dying eye.

And yearly now, before the Martyrs’ King,
For thee she offers her maternal tears,
Calls us, like thee, to His dear feet to cling,
And bury in His wounds our earthly fears.

And Angels hear, and there is mirth in Heaven,
Fit prelude of the joy, when spirits won
Like thee to patient Faith, shall rise forgiven,
And at thy Saviour’s knees thy bright example own.

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