A Hymn to Virtue

St. Louis de Montfort (b. 1673- d. 1716), the great French Marian priest, was a prolific poet and hymn writer. When he traveled through France giving missions, Montfort taught the people his hymns as a means of teaching the truths of the Roman Catholic Faith. The following is one of Montfort’s hymns which is titled Respect and Desire for Virtue. It is quite instructive. You will note that the hymn ends with the saint’s personal motto, “God Alone.” The Church has shown, by Montfort’s elevation to the altar, that he truly lived this motto.

Now, a hymn to virtue by St. Louis de Montfort:

1. One day I saw in the Lord
Someone who ravished my heart:
A charming Princess.
Smitten with her great beauty,
I ask who she is.
Heaven is silent; I persist.
I say it is out of love,
They answer, “Mortal man,
It is the Virtue of God,
Take her as your mistress!

2. Virtue comes from the Creator,
She is the divine breath
Of his glory everlasting;
He wants her in all his friends,
As enemies he condemns
All those who forsake her.
In heaven he crowns only
Her faithful lovers.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
How beautiful I find you!

3. God himself has come forth
To show this reality divine
To every creature;
To reveal it tangibly
He became a mortal man,
He took on his nature,
In his manhood
He laid bare his utter holiness.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
How pure I find you!

4. In the midst of poverty,
Jesus is rich in truth,
He has all abundance
Since he is full and clothed
With Virtue’s great treasures
And her innocence.
Oh! How rich we are in her embrace!
Oh! How poor we are when we let her go!
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O my treasure immeasurable!

5. If God takes from us so many cares,
If he provides for all our needs,
It is for Virtue herself;
Day and night he smites our heart
To take us to her love.
It is his paramount desire,
It is his chief purpose,
And all that he expects of us.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
Suffer me to love you.

6. To her the Holy Spirit leads,
Be perfect, Jesus said,
Like God your father. (Mt 5,48)
Why, Martha, are you troubled?
As for everyone Virtue
Is all you need;
It is truly the better part
That we always too late embrace.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
In you is my hope.

7. Virtue alone is a treasure
Before which all gold and silver
Are but mud and sand;
Without her all is vanity,
Sin, lies, infirmity,
Dreadful woe;
With her all is of value,
Be it pain or scorn.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O my true blessing!

8. Saints aflame with passion seek her
As their substantial dignity
And their beatitude;
Woe to them who do not possess her,
Or do not make her here below
The center of their meditation!
Since she is our chief possession,
Our purpose, our wherewithal.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
Your yoke is not harsh.

9. So powerful is her appeal
That we can never resist her,
The profligate admire her;
Even the most barbarous of heathens
Find how great a blessing she is,
They love her and they long for her.
O Virtue, there is nothing like you,
Nothing so staunch, nothing so sweet.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
For you my heart is yearning.

10. Each man is made for Virtue,
Without her he is weak and downcast,
Without pleasure, without victory.
Had Virtue not charmed him,
His heart would ever hunger;
Man of the world, I want to believe you;
Ah, if you opened up your heart to us
We would see what is your woe.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O my peerless glory.

11. She is the secret most certain
For edifying our neighbor,
For converting his soul.
She is a sweet-smelling balm
That gently fills his heart
With a divine flame;
She speaks to him with eloquence,
And sends him into rapture.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
It is you I beg for.

12. Without her a fine preacher
Merely stuns his listener,
Without converting him,
He does not fail to cause division,
And never makes his central point;
The point of righteousness.
Can he give what he does not have?
Make people walk without taking a step?
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
Let me be your sanctuary.

13. A truly virtuous man,
Be he the lowliest of beggars,
Is far more respectable
Than all the kings and doctors,
Have they not Virtue in their hearts,
A virtue that is true.
Without her the finest talents
Sparkle falsely and in vain.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O my transcendent glory!

14. What good for all those tradesmen,
For all those famous conquerors,
Who fill up history’s pages,
To gain this whole universe,
And doom themselves to hell?
Dear God, what foolishness!
Without Virtue all is lost,
But no one understands this word.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O treasure of my life!

15. When the Lord judges us,
What will he ask of us:
A great nobility,
A great capacity,
A sublime ability?
No, no, but wisdom only,
Virtue in her purity,
Genuine holiness.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O my great wealth!

16. You friends of holy Zion,
Let us desire perfection,
Since God commands it.
But let us desire it purely
And seek it passionately,
Its reward it great;
Let us strive hard to obtain it,
Let us labor until death.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
It is you I ask for.

17. But we must strive to excel:
Not to push forward is to fall back.
Let us never stop pushing forward,
And spare nothing to achieve it.
To do better in the future
Charity urges us on.
Let us not think of our past as worthy,
Or that we have done something good.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
Toward you my heart hastens.

18. Let us pile coin upon coin,
As they do in every trade:
No measly little virtue.
Aim always for the most excellent,
For thus did the saints
To attain their reward;
Whoever grows in virtue
Receives the rest as well.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
I follow in your footsteps.

19. Let us confound our cowardice
By pondering the holiness
Of all the saints our brethren.
Against these mighty giants
We are but shiftless manikins,
Full of every wretchedness;
They were made of iron and fire,
And we for God are naught but ice.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O Virtue of my fathers!

20. We attain pure virtue
Only after a noble fight,
A lawful combat;
Let us fast then unceasingly and pray,
Let us subdue our passions,
The root of every sin;
And practice earnestly
The great virtues of the Savior.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
O my sublime glory!

21. Forgive me, God of goodness,
In truth my virtue is
But mere posturing;
I wish to follow you step by step.
Lord do not forsake me.
Grant me your grace;
Not gold, nor silver, nor renown,
But only the virtues of your heart.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God.
Yes, it is you I embrace.

22. O worthy Mother of Jesus,
O great Queen of virtues
And their perfect model!
If I am your servant,
Let me be your imitator!
O Virgin most faithful,
Let your virtues enter into me,
Wisdom and Faith above all.
God, God, God, virtue of my God,
My Bride everlasting.

23. Away with you, false world,
Your fancied bliss
Sullies and starves me both;
By your pompous glamour you want
To make me forever woeful.
Begone, accursed, loathsome one,
And spread your poison elsewhere,
Virtue is my only song.
God, God, God, Virtue of my God,
I sing of your radiance.

GOD ALONE. (source) (end of hymn by St. Louis de Montfort)

May you have a good day.


~Image: St. Louis de Montfort, image source.

~Comments from The Marian Room:

R. Anne, 8:02 a.m.: “What a pretty and powerful hymn!”

K. Anne, 8:19 a.m.: “Love this! A big part of Stella (my household from Franciscan U.) is the imitation                                          of the 10 virtues of Mary!”