> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Who Shall Judge the Lord (A Carol)

Who Shall Judge the Lord (A Carol)

[words Rudyard Kipling, tune trad.]

A Carol is the last poem from Rudyard Kipling's book Rewards and Fairies. Peter Bellamy sang it as Who Shall Judge the Lord on his second album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Merlin's Isle of Gramarye. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

This is possibly the most convincing of all Kipling's traditionally-styled pieces. It appears at the very end of Rewards and Fairies, thus being the last word of the cycle as Puck's Song was the first. A tradtitional tune fits precisely to these verses; whether or not Kipling knew the tune I can't say, but if he did not, the coincidence is remarkable, because the tune is that od a traditional carol: The Leaves of Life.

Lyrics

Our Lord Who did the Ox command
To kneel to Judah's King,
He binds His frost upon the land
To ripen it for Spring—
For to ripen it for Spring, good sirs,
According to His word;
Which well must be as ye can see—
And who shall judge the Lord?

When we poor fenmen skate the ice
Or shiver on the wold,
We hear the cry of a single tree
That breaks her heart in the cold—
That breaks her heart in the cold, good sirs,
And rendeth by the board;
Which well must be as ye can see—
And who shall judge the Lord?

Her wood is crazed and little worth
Excepting as to burn
That we may warm and make our mirth
Until the Spring return—
Until the Spring return, good sirs,
When people walk abroad;
Which well must be as ye can see—
And who shall judge the Lord?

God bless the master of this house,
And all that sleep therein!
And guard the fens from pirate folk,
And keep us all from sin,
To walk in honesty, good sirs,
Of thought and deed and word!
Which shall befriend our latter end—
And who shall judge the Lord?