I must admit I’ve never heard it sung, but the poem (CLXXIII of Verses on Various Occasions) is very dear to me b/c Father Newman wrote it at the behest of one of my patron fathers. When Blessed John Henry was going to Dublin for his continuing work at the University, Father St. John asked him to write something on Purgatory. This was Father Newman’s response:
TO AMBROSE ST JOHN
6 Harcourt Street Jan 9. 1857
My dear A
I am hardly recovered from my seasickness even now. I have generally found this a state favorable to versifying. Philosophers, like yourself, must explain why. Various of the Lyras were written in this state. Accordingly, I have written the Purgatory verses which you asked me for.* Perhaps you will say they do not do justice to my sea sickness. You will see I have observed your wish of having a repetitive verse.
Ever Yrs affly J H N
- Newman wrote these verses in his letter as they are printed in Vv., 'For the Dead," pp. 315-16. except that the first line of the last verse begins ‘Sweet Jesu, help,’ instead of ‘Good Jesu.’
From: The Letters and Dairies of John Henry Newman, Volume XII. Opposition in Dublin and London, Oct. 1855 to March 1857, page 490.
Fr. St. John had a great devotion to the Holy Souls. In his dedication of the Raccolta, he wrote the following, which I have in part used as a private prayer:
Accept then, beloved souls, this offering, slender though it be ; have respect to the end I set before myself, and the loving heart with which I offer it you. Forget not, ye chosen ones of God, to manifest in my behalf your mighty aid, and obtain for me from God the remission of my guilt, and the gift of holy perseverance, that hereafter I may come with you to love and enjoy Him for all eternity : all this I trust in you to obtain for me ; and in humbleness of heart I pray God that this work may ever produce in the faithful who are yet in the flesh the fruits of eternal life, and aid you to enter into that kingdom of glory whither your hearts are already gone before.
From: The Raccolta; Or, Collection of Indulgenced Prayers. By Ambrose St. John of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Birmingham (1857), pages [xvii]-xviii.
Jesus, God and man,
imprisoned by love in Thy most holy Sacrament,
have mercy upon us.
- Blessed John Henry Newman, December 22, 1851
Tú y yo sabemos por la fe que oculto en las especies sacramentales está Cristo,
ese Cristo con su Cuerpo, con su Sangre, con su Alma, y con su Divinidad,
prisonero de amor.
- San Josemaría Escrivá, 1 junio 1974
God loves to be resisted in His displeasure, and to be restrained by the humble from inflicting punishment… One saint will often save a nation; so true is it that humble souls are the hinges on which God moves the world.
- Abp. W. B. Ullathorne, The Groundwork of the Christian Virtues, 1882.