Gregory ruled the Church during the reigns of the Emperors Maurice and Phocas, and in the second year of the latter's reign he passed from this life and entered the true life of heaven on 12th March 604. His body was laid to rest in the church of Saint Peter the Apostle, in Rome, from whence he will one day rise in glory with other shepherds of Holy Church. On his tomb was inscribed this epitaph:
0 earth, the body that you gave,
Till God's life-giving power destroy the grave.
Over his heaven-bound soul death holds no sway
Who steps through death into a fairer day.
The life of this high Pontiff, here at rest,
With good deeds past all reckoning was blest.
He fed the hungry, and he clothed the chill,
And by his teaching, shielded souls from ill.
Wisdom was in his words, and all he wrought
Was as a pattern, acting what he taught.
To Christ he led the Angles, by God's grace
Swelling Faith's armies with a new-won race.
0 holy pastor, all your work and prayer
To God you offered with a shepherd's care.
Triumphant now you reap your just reward,
Raised to high place, the consul of the Lord.
(With acknowledgement to the Venerable Bede, and recorded in The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, published by Penguin Books).
The words of the celebratory anthem, commissioned by the Choir of St. Gregory's Minster, are based on the above epitaph, and have been set to music by Clifton Hughes, composer and Chairman of the Orpheus Choir of North Hertfordshire. The first performance of this work was given on the actual 1400th Anniversary of Saint Gregory's death, during a service of Choral Evensong , held in the Minster.
Lawyer, Administrator and Monk | Mission to England | Gregorian Chant | Pope and Pastor
Text by Bill Smith. Page provided by Ryedale Christian Council Updated 8th May 2004