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Lord of the ages (Magna Carta)

An epical story. A beautiful poem. A soothing melody. This is the last book of the Bible, the Apocalypse, made poetry.

Lord of the Ages rode one night
Out through the gateways of time.
Astride a great charger, in a cloak of white samite
He flew on the air like a storm.
Dark was the night,
For he'd gathered the stars in his hand to light a path through the sky,
While the hooves of his charger made comets of fire,
Bewitching all eyes that beheld them.

Lord of the Ages
Nobody knows
Whither he goes.
Nobody knows.

Below a dark forest, in caves of black granite,
The children of darkness dwelled in oblivion
Betraying one another in endless confusion,
For the Lord of the Dark
Had bewitched them.

From time’s first creation
The wise men and prophets
And all workers of magic had warned of the reckoning,
The wind and the fire
And the plague of destruction
That follows the path of evil.

Lord of the Ages
Nobody knows
Whither he goes.
Nobody knows.

Far above the wide ocean and thundering rivers,
Through the sun and the rain and the turn of the seasons,
Rode the god of all knowing.
While all about him, celestial companions,
Friends from the void before time was woven,
Honoured his crown with words of white fire
And carried his robes of light.

Whither he goes
Nobody knows

But in the peace of a valley a young child was born
Filling the night with his crying,
And an old man gave thanks to the Lord of the Ages
Whose battle is not with innocence.
But the birds of the air were silent
Knowing the time had come
When time was forgotten.
The waters were stilled,
And the mountains stood empty,
For the cities were deaf
Long, long ago.

‘Enough’ cried a voice
And the earth was awakened,
The poor and the rich felt the plague and the fire.
Death and destruction rode out together
Turning the world to a funeral pyre.

It was the Lord of the Ages
Gathering in the harvest.
I saw the Lord of the Ages
Gathering in the harvest,
Gathering in the harvest.

And from the blood and the thunder
Of men and their dying,
His eyes dark with sorrow,
The Lord of the Ages gathered in his harvest.

But to the old and the helpless,
The weak and the humble,
To the children of light,
His words of compassion breathed on them gently
Dissolving the darkness across the great valley
That rumbled with fire.
And from the death and destruction,
The Lord of the Ages carried the fruit of the harvest
To freedom.

Lord of the Ages
Nobody knows
Whither he goes.
Nobody knows.

RODE- irregular past: ride-rode-ridden (to travel by horse)
GATEWAYS- gate, door
ASTRIDE- (adverb) the position of your body when you’re sitting on something with your legs on either side (for example on a horse)
CHARGER- a poetical word for "horse"
CLOAK- a piece of clothing that you wear on your back, tied around your neck or shoulders, and going down to your legs
SAMITE- an old kind of cloth made of fine silk
FLEW- irregular past: fly-flew-flown
FOR HE HAD GATHERED- The word "FOR" here is used to mean "BECAUSE" (not a rare use in oral English)
HOOVES= plural of HOOF, the hard bottom of the foot in animals like cows and horses
BEWITCH= control magically
BEHELD= irregular past: behold-beheld-beheld. An old poetical word meaning "to look", very often used in the standard version on the Bible. We still use it in the expression: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", meaning that beauty is something subjective.

WHITHER= to where (an old fashioned word used now only in poetry)

BELOW= under
GRANITE= a hard stone made of little grains of different shades of grey, black and white
DWELL= to live (old fashioned)
OBLIVION= if you are "in oblivion", everybody forgot about you
BETRAY= to do what traitors do (first you trust them and then they do something bad to you). ONE ANOTHER= each other.
ENDLESS= without end (the suffix –LESS expressing the idea of "without")
FOR THE LORD OF THE DARK= again, we see FOR with the meaning of BECAUSE.

WISE MEN= men who know a lot about life and know how to take the right decisions.
RECKONING= here it means "the day of reckoning", which is the day when you have to pay or be punished for all the bad things you’ve done = the Judgment Day.
EVIL= an abstract noun related to the adjective BAD: the universe is a great battle between Good and Evil


THUNDERING= making a strong roaring noise like a thunder (the noise of lightening)
THE TURN OF THE SEASONS= the passing of time (the 4 seasons are: spring, summer, autumn and winter)
THE VOID= the emptiness. If something is void, there’s nothing inside it, it’s empty
WOVEN= irregular past: weave-wove-woven. It’s what you do to turn thread into a cloth
ROBE= an item of clothing used in ancient times made of one piece, going from your neck down to your legs or feet

WHOSE= the possessive form of WHO (it means "of whom)
TO STILL= to stop motion
DEAF= if you’re deaf, you can’t hear anything. In this song, "a city is deaf" means that there’s no people there, so there is no noise.

THE POOR= the poor people. The construction THE + ADJECTIVE, meaning "that group of people", so it is plural: "the poor are getting poorer". The poor = poor people in (general).
FUNERAL PYRE= a pile of wood where you burn a dead person
GATHERING IN THE HARVEST= in this sentence, IN is not a preposition, but a particle, so the verb here is "gathering in" (and not "in the harvest"). "Gather in" is a transitive verb, it means to collect the fruit of your harvest (the plants you grow) and put them inside to protect it from the rain.

BLOOD= the red liquid inside your body. Be careful with the pronunciation, it is said with the vowel in HUT.
THEIR DYING= here, DYING is a noun (that’s why it can take a possessive). In English, when we use a verb as the subject or object of a sentence, we use the -ING form.
SORROW= sadness

THE OLD AND THE HELPLESS= other two adjectives used with THE to refer to a group of people (like "the rich and the poor")
THE WEAK AND THE HUMBLE= same thing, part of the group of THE + adjective.
BREATHED= that’s what you do when you let air out of your mouth gently
RUMBLE= to make a low, continuous, throbbing sound, like when lots of people are talking

This sounds like a poetical epic story Middle-Ages style, a bit like "The Lord of the Rings", but it is in fact a depiction (quite faithful) of the end of the world as it is metaphorically described in the Book of Revelation (from the Bible): the Apocalypse.

One of the titles of God is "Lord of the Ages", and one of the titles of Satan is "Lord of the Dark". At the end of times people will be divided in two different kinds: "the children of light" (followers of God) and the children of darkness (followers of Satan). According to the Book of Revelations the children of darkness (the worshippers of the Beast) will have the control and the children of light will be repressed and persecuted. But the Evil will not prevail. Jesus is described leading an army of angels, riding the skies on a white horse and forcing darkness to retire. On that day, the followers of Satan will seek refuge in the darkness of caves and will look for protection under rocks, but the glory of Jesus will reach them all and there will be no escape from divine justice. On that day, the good people (who had been suffering) will be saved, and the bad people will face destruction, that's the day of reckoning, the Judgement Day (or Doom's Day), where everyone will have the fruit of his harvest. The Book of Revelation compares that to a harvest, where God sends his angels to gather the fruit of the harvest and separate the wheat from the weeds. Just like the wheat is taken home and the weeds burnt in a fire, the good will be taken to heaven and the evil will "burn" in hell. But the Apocalypse is not a book about the destruction and end of the world, it's a book about the purification of the world, the time when all the evil and bad things will finally disappear from the face of the Earth and only goodness will prevail and Jesus will reign.

Although some Protestant people believe the story narrated in the Book of Revelation will happen literally as it is described there, most Christians read the book as a symbol of a message of hope: Evil will not prevail, mankind moves to a better future and some day we will finally build a Paradise on earth because God pushes history in one direction: perfection.

Anyway, this song is making a poetical summary of the Apocalypse and the final victory of God, the victory of goodness, the end of history (but not the end of the world).



The original fragment from the Book of Revelation that describes the appearance of the man (Jesus) riding the sky on a white horse is in chapter 19 and says (King Jame's version):

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God. That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the Beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

And this fragment is the opening of the present song. The rest of the song makes a brief summary of some of the other chapters in the Apocalypse.

 
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