Bust of Charles i by Bernini

Bust of Charles i by Bernini, placed int eh chapel of Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight, to mark the 250th anniversary of the Martyr's death

One of King Charles the First’s last words to the public before his martyrdom was: “REMEMBER!”. Even today his call to us has not been forgotten.

Throughout the centuries various writers, poets and artists have also felt compelled to remember the Martyr’s sacrifice. The Eikon Basilike had a very important place in history just after the martyr’s death.

In the 19th century John Keble wrote a poem of remembrance and the foundress of The Society of King Charles the Martyr, The Honourable, Mrs. Ermengarda Greville-Nugent, wrote the lyrics to several hymns which are still sung by The Society of King Charles the Martyr today.

Keble’s poem and one of The Hon Mrs. Greville-Nugent’s hymns are included here below. The hymn is one of four that is included with our Liturgy Manual sample.

King Charles the Martyr by John Keble, priest and poet

First published in 1827 as part of The Christian Year: Thoughts in verse for The Sundays and Holydays Throughout the Year.

“This in thankworthy, if a man for conscience towards God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” I S.Peter ii. 19

Praise to our Pardoning God! though silent now
The thunders of the deep prophetic sky,
Though in our sight no powers of darkness bow
Before th’ Apostles’ glorious company;

The Martyrs’ noble army is still ours,
far in the North our fallen days have seen
How in her woe the tenderest spirit, towers
For Jesus’ sake in agony serene.

Praise to our God! not cottage hearths alone,
And shades imperious to the proud world’s glare,
Such witness yield: a monarch from his throne
Springs to his Cross and finds his glory there.

Yes: wheresoe’er one trace of thee is found,
As in the sacred land, the shadows fall:
With beating hearts we roam the haunted ground,
Lone battle-field, or crumbling prison hall.

And there are aching solitary breasts,
Whose widow’d walk with thought of thee is cheer’d,
Our own, our royal Saint: thy memory rests
On many a prayer, the more for thee endear’d.

True son of our dear Mother, early taught
With her to worship and for her to die,
Nurs’d in her aisles to more than kingly thought,
Oft in her solemn hours we dream thee nigh.

For thou didst love to trace her daily lore,
And where we look for comfort or for calm,
Over the self-same lines to bend, and pour
Thy heart with hers in some victorious psalm.

And well did she thy loyal love repay:
When all foresook, her Angel still was nigh,
Chain’d and bereft, and on thy funeral way,
Straight to the Cross she turn’d thy dying eye.

And yearly now, before the Martyrs’ King,
For thee she offers her maternal tears,
Calls us, like thee, to His dear feet to cling,
And bury in His wounds our earthly fears.

And Angels hear, and there is mirth in Heaven,
Fit prelude of the joy, when spirits won
Like thee to patient Faith, shall rise forgiven,
And at thy Saviour’s knees thy bright example own.

“O Holy King, Whose Severed Head”
by The Honourable Mrs. Ermengarda Greville-Nugent,
Foundress of The Society of King Charles the Martyr;
Tune: St. Stephen (English Hymnal 337)

O holy King, whose severed head
The Martyr’s Crown doth ray
With gems for every blood-drop shed,
Saint Charles for England pray!

For England’s Church, for England’s realm
(Once thine in earthly sway),
Lest storms our Ark should overwhelm,
Saint Charles of England, pray!

Thou for thy murderers didst plead
That January day;
O still, in this our hour of need,
Saint Charles for England pray!

Let us with him whose crown is won,
Meet adoration pay
To God the Father, God the Son,
And Paraclete alway.