Martyrs of the ArenaA poem by J S Stallybrass, set to music by Laurent de Rille

Martyrs of the Arena


Great Caesar, with our dying breath,
Thus we hail thee!

The body thou canst doom to death,
Willing tools will not fail thee;
But the soul shall hold fast her faith.
O Caesar, with our dying breath,
Thus we hail thee!
Great Lord of life and death.

See the town keeps holiday today,
The circus, in festive array.
Now raise a merry shout to the Gods.
With cymbals clashing and trumpets blowing,
Before them the stern lictor's rods.
See the consuls in crimson glowing,
See the pale vestal's white robes flowing,
All attend till the great Caesar nods.

And we, all amid the dread arena,
Naked, defenceless, in God our sole reliance,
We hear, we hear with calm defiance,
The roaring lion and hyena,
Soon to be our living tomb.

Heard ye that ringing cheer?
They open now the cage,
And the tiger and panther in their rage,
They come madly bounding along.
Brethren, be strong!
Lift up the heart in prayer and song!

God of the martyr and the slave,
O Christ who has triumphed over death,
Come, O come, Thy suffering saints to save.
Now they draw their parting breath!

Tis the hour of joyful compensation!
Hark! it greets us from eternity;
Now comes the long looked for salvation,
Now dawns the day of liberty.

picGod of the martyr and the slave,
O Christ, who has triumphed over death,
Come, O come, Thy suffering saints to save.
Now they draw their parting breath;

And when the life blood is pouring,
And day is darkening into night,
O living God, to thee our souls are soaring
And death is the dawning of endless light.

Words by J S Stallybrass
Set music by Laurent de Rille

François Anatole Laurent de Rillé
Born 24 November 1828 in Orleans, died 26 August 1915 in Paris.

A French musician, composer and writer, De Rillé composed a number of operettas and sacred works, but his name is more frequently associated with the Orpheus movement, which also included Hector Berlioz and Charles Gounod among its members. The movement’s purpose was to set up and encourage male voice choir associations to promote participation in music in the community, the first of which was in Paris.
De Rillé wrote many pieces for male voice choirs and arranged other pieces by Verdi, Donizetti and Rossini, he also wrote books about forming and training choirs. Orpheus societies gained popularity in both France and the United Kingdom during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Nowadays most of De Rille’s music is largely forgotten but his choral works, which include the “The Destruction of Gaza” and Martyrs of the Arena remain popular with male voice choirs.

James Steven Stallybrass
Born 3 October 1826 in Selenginsk, Siberia, died 2 December 1888 in Stoke Newingtoon.

J S Stallybrass, the fourth son of the Rev. Edward Stallybrass, of the London Missionary Society, was a well known academic who contributed to various publications, supplying original hymns and poems, and translating or editing the work of others. His translations included various German hymns and poems, scientific works and several volumes of Teutonic Mythology written by Jacob Grimm. He was born in Selenginsk in Siberia, where his father was stationed at the time, but spent much of his life in Stoke Newington, London.

About Farthingale Publications...

... Is a hobby web site containing articles of local interest to Lancastrians, some favourite walking and cycling routes, selected words and poetry, and some writings of more general and whimsical nature, as well as the authors own picture gallery. Access is available via the homepage and menu at the head of the page. Listed below is a selection of recommended reading.

Richmond Hill Dairies - Pemberton

These pages contain some personal memories from my youth and my association with Richmond Hill Dairies, a local business I grew up with and remember with some affection. A well known and important feature of the local community in its day and part of the heritage of Pemberton, this is my attempt to commit some small snapshot of its history to print, I hope these pages paint a worthy picture.

Mind Your Language

A humorous poem by "the bard of Haydock" George Anderton, inspired by memories of a trip to Bad Canstatt, Stuttgart Germany with the Haydock Male Voice Choir in 1975. This publication will bring a smile to the faces of not only those members who were there at the time and know the people involved but the wider population of Haydock as well who speak the language.

Wigan and the American Civil War

Wigan Coal and Iron Company, The Right Honourable John Lancaster MP for Wigan, the Confederate Raider Alabama, USS Kearsarge, Cherbourg and the yacht Deerhound all feature in the last great sea battle of the American Civil War.

Wigan Old Bank 1792

A tragic boating accident on Windermere and a surprising journey through the social history of Wigan during the reign of Queen Victoria, highlighting the relationships between four families who played an important part in the commercial development of the town.

The Brocklebank Line

Daniel Brocklebank (1741-1801), shipbuilder and mariner, a brief biography, and some background detail of his family and the shipping line he founded.

Little Ships at Zeebrugge

An account of a heroic attempt to block the port of Zeebrugge during the first World War, to protect supply routes into the UK by denying enemy submarines based there access to the open sea.

A Cricket Calypso

A short biopic of cricketer Cyril Washbrook and a snapshot of his career including his role in the West Indies tour of 1950 recorded in the lyrics of the Cricket Calypso.

Not Much of a Warrior

Wigan RLFC in the fifties and sixties, through rose coloured glasses. A golden age of legendary players and memorable moments, along with some personal memories.

Further reading material


Local Interest:Richmond Hill Dairies; Mind Your Language; John Lancaster MP; Thomas Aspinwall (Miners Agent); Upholland Telephone Exchange 1962; Thomas Linacre School; Scot Lane School; The Lindsays of Haigh; Dust Upon God's Fair Earth; Nurburgring 1960; Wigan Advertisements 1960; Wigan Soldier Missing in Action; It's a Funny Life; Thomas Whitham VC; Isaac Watts; Wigan Old Bank; The Brocklebank Line; John Byrom of Lowton; The Holy City; Private Walter Turton; Little Ships at War; Cricket Calypso; Not Much of a Warrior.

Walking & Cycling: Moss Eccles Tarn; Abbey Lakes to Coppull Moor; Chorley Ice Cream Walk; Douglas Valley Dawdle; Three Counties Cycle Ride; Haigh to Borsdane Wood; A Lancshire Lineaer Walk; Blackrod or Bust; Cycle the Sankey Valley; Cycle the Monsal Trail; Wigan Circular by Bike; Freshfield to Crosby; Irwell Valley Trail (Bury to Rawtenstall); Irwell Valley (Bury to Salford).

Words & Poetry: The Heart of Midlothian; The Family Man; The Fair Rosamond; The Fair Rosamond Comic; The Wreck of the Hesperus; God Bless these Poor Wimmen that's Childer; Dombey and Son; Aw've Turned me bit O' Garden O'er; On Th' Hills; Four Favourite Poems; The Darkling Thrush; The Glory of the Garden; The Rolling English Road; Hymn Before Action; Dust upon God's Fair Earth; Mind Your Language; Jeff Unsworth's dialect poetry.

Wallgate Chronicles: Hugo Boss comes to Wigan; In the footsteps of the Manchester Rambler; Fun with Trigonometry; Surprise at the Philharmonic; Cat Bells; A Walk in the Hills; Eay Times Uv Changed; Fidelio; The Ravioli Room; Desert Island Discs; Travels in Time; The Spectroscope; The Bohemian Girl; Bookcase; Barnaby Rudge; Romance on a Budget; The Battle of Solferino; The Getaway Car; The Switchroom Wigan; The Force of Destiny; Adolphe Adam; The Fair Maid of Perth; Ivanhoe; Semele; Lohengrin.

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