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The Happy Birds Te Deum Sing 'Tis Mary's Month of May

This hymn about Mary for the month of May was written by English Anglican minister and writer, Alfred Gurney (1843-98).

It was first published in his book "Verses" in 1870, and still has a fondly-remembered annual place in worship in some English churches.

With meter 86 86 D, tunes it is set to include:
  • FOREST GREEN (aka O Little town of Bethlehem)
  • A march tune used by a number of regiments, and usually known as "The Lincolnshire Poacher" - which is actually the folk-song usually sung to the tune - this appears to be the most widely-used tune
  • WOLVERCOTE written in 1910 by English composer William Harold Ferguson (1874-1950)
  • HOLY WELL - published in Hymns Ancient and Modern, edition TBA.



Downloads



Examples

Instrumental - brass band, tune LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER



Instrumental, pipe organ. Tune WOLVERCOTE



Instrumental - small brass band, tune LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER


Lyrics

The happy birds Te Deum sing,
'Tis Mary's month of May;
Her smile turns winter into spring,
And darkness into day;
And there's a fragrance in the air,
The bells their music make,
And O the world is bright and fair,
And all for Mary's sake.

Where'er we seek the holy Child,
At every sacred spot,
We meet the Mother undefiled;
Who shun her seek him not:
At cloistered Nazareth we see.
At haunted Bethlehem,
The throne of Jesus, Mary's knee,
Her smile, his diadem.

The Daughter, Mother, Spouse of God,
None silence her appeal
Who long to tread where Jesus trod,
What Jesus felt to feel.
O, Virgin-born, from thee we learn
To love thy Mother dear;
Her teach us duly to discern.
And rightly to revere.

To love the Mother, people say,
Is to defraud the Son.
For them, alas, there dawns no May,
Until their hearts are won:
Then, when their hearts begin to burn.
Ah, then, to Jesus true,
And loving whom he loves, they learn
To love Saint Mary too.

How many are the thoughts that throng
On faithful souls to-day!
All year we sing our Lady's song,
'Tis still the song of May:
Magnificat! O may we feel
That rapture more and more;
And chiefly, Lord, what time we kneel
Thine altar-throne before.

'Tis then, when at thy feet we pray,
We share our Lady's mirth;
Her joy we know who hail to-day
Thy Eucharistic birth;
That trembling joy to Mary sent,
Ah, Christians know it well,
With whom in his dear sacrament
Their Saviour deigns to dwell.

Yes, Mary's month has come again,
The merry month of May;
And sufferers forget their pain,
And sorrows flee away,
And joys return, the hearts whose moan
Was desolate erewhile
Are blithe and gay - once more they own
The charm of Mary's smile.

Thy Son our Brother is, and we,
Whatever may betide,
A Mother, Mary, have in thee,
A guardian and a guide;
Thy smiles a tale of gladness tell
No words can ever say?
If but, like thee, we love him well,
The year will all be May.

All hail! An angel spake the words
We lovingly repeat;
The song-notes of the singing birds
They are not half so sweet:
This is a music that endures,
It cannot pass away,
For Mary's children it ensures
A never-ending May.


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