As we offer cheerful praises
in this ancient holy shrine,
round this table where we worship,
meeting Christ in bread and wine,
let us thank God for our patron,
Alphege, martyr, saint, divine.
Lo, a thousand years before us,
barb’rous Danes assailed this land:
homesteads, boroughs, churches, abbeys,
pillaged by a plundering band;
and the people suffered deeply
from the cruel heathen hand.
Pious Alphege, humble prelate,
languished in captivity,
while his gaolers sought a ransom
from his flock in poverty.
But the saint forbade the payment
that would buy his liberty.
As his captors camped at Greenwich
sadly dawned the fateful day:
warriors in a drunken fury
launched a murderous affray,
showered the saint with bones of oxen,
slew the old man as he lay.
Sorrowing monks conveyed his body
to a sombre, holy wake.
Faithful flocked to Canterbury
loving pilgrimage to make.
Dane and Saxon learned to honour
him who died for justice sake.
Praised be God for Holy Alphege;
may his mem’ry not abate.
Praise God for his steadfast courage,
as he faced an unjust fate.
May a modern generation
learn that love can conquer hate.