New Internet and a Quick Visit

Yesterday was primarily a “recover from Faire” day. It was also a “wait around all day for the cable internet guy” day. We were told that the guy would be coming to install our cable internet guy any time between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. So I had to forgo my Bible Study and my grocery shopping and then after all that, and after Walter rushing home from work when they finally said he was coming, the guy never came and we were told he would come this morning.

Meanwhile, remember how I mentioned that my basket of stuff tipped out when I was taking everything back to the car on Sunday? Well, when I got home I realized that my forged metal ring was missing. The one that is part of the spikes and ring game I got from Shadowhawk. I sent out messages on Facebook asking people to look for it, because I know the general area where it would be. Shadowhawk and his wife both searched but didn’t find it. Grrr! I might have to get back out there and search myself.

Today the cable guy did eventually come. Since Walter was able to be on site for at least some of the time, I went out for at least a few groceries, and then after lunch I got in the car and took off for Dallas to visit my aunt. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. It was deliciously cool–in the 70s–and sunny and breezy. There were more idiots than usual on the highway, and I very nearly got run off the road by a semi driver who wasn’t paying attention.
I made it safely to the nursing home and had a nice visit with my aunt, though it was marred by another resident screaming her lungs out for an hour and a half. It was awful. The staff treated that poor woman very kindly and my heart went out to all of them.

After saying goodbye to my aunt, I head home and stopped for supper on the way. What a beautiful drive it was. I drove through the gorgeous sunset and through deepening dusk and twilight. The cool wind blew in through the open window and I saw the first few stars appear as I drove back into town. It was a lot of driving for a little less than two hours of visiting, but I’m glad I went today. It’s the only day I could go this week and I hated to put it off any longer.

By the way, after six hours of effort, the cable guy finally got our internet set up. I don’t really notice a difference on my computer, but Netflix is a LOT faster now.

P.S. I am not done talking about the Faire yet. Fair warning.

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Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?

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I don’t know how to sum up the last two days of Faire without being really boring. Then I realized: nobody has to read this. If you’re not interested in my report of the faire, you can just move along and read the blog of someone who is actually interesting. I’ll never even know that you rejected me! Unless you tell me, obviously.

This was the last weekend of the Faire, and they really needed to have a good turnout. Lucy and I got there barely before the gates opened on Saturday, and we witnessed this picturesque scene in front of the main gate (DeWitt, our Punch & Judy man, was reciting Shakespeare):

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Soon I was ensconced in my accustomed chair at the Armoury, and I had very little to do because although there were some patrons, none of them were coming to buy weapons or lemonade or funnel cake. It was a very pleasant morning, but not a profitable one. Oh, and for those of you who still haven’t made it out to the Faire, here’s what the Armoury looks like:

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Please note the excellent shade.

Early in the afternoon there was a flurry of excitement when Carrie arrived. Carrie is Tim’s wife, for whom I was substituting due to her breast cancer surgery. It was so good to see her, and for the rest of the afternoon there was a constant stream of people coming to visit her and wish her well. There was also an almost constant stream of customers for both the concession stand and the weapons shop. It was a very pleasant but busy afternoon.

Among our customers were a troop of belly dancers from Houston. Somewhat to my surprise, they were very interested in weapons. A couple of them spent a great deal of time browsing and adding to their “pile” before buying. Considering our own arsenal, I could only approve this behavior.

Toward the end of the day, the mermaid sought me out and gave me a lovely little pin with a seashell and a frond of fake water plant. She said that it is the custom among rennies to exchange these little “favors” as mementos at the end of a faire. I immediately began scheming to make some of my own.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, Mercy had to do virtually all the chai party preparations on her own. By the time Lucy and I got back, I was exhausted and the chai party was in full swing. I had this idea that I could just take a shower and sneak into bed. Before I could carry out my plan, however, I received a report that my friend Kristina was waiting for me outside, so I ended up going out to the party and staying up late yet again!

Sunday was the first day that I worked at the faire that I didn’t wake up on my own. When the alarm went off I wanted to smash it. There had been forecasts of dire weather, so I staggered out of bed to check the weather and see if maybe the last day of faire had been called off. It hadn’t. In fact, the weather forecast had been somewhat downgraded from “life threatening” to “scattered thunderstorms.” It ended up sprinkling maybe 20 drops of rain in the afternoon.

So, off we went. It was a beautiful, bittersweet day, as I had known it would be. There were almost no patrons in the morning, so I was free to roam a bit. I spent a delightful interlude visiting with the queen, and checking in with other friends. I had made a little pearl pin to give to the mermaid, and I had other beaded pins to pass out as well. I gave my knitting friend Mindy a set of my stitch markers, and she gave me a lovely little tatted Celtic knot pin in return.

I went and bought some earrings and ear cuffs made by my friend Sarah, and got some heavenly-smelling soap as a bonus. I found some little charms that are perfect for a project I’m working on also.

Tim was pretty busy with concessions, so I returned during the lunch hour in case anyone wanted to buy weapons. We made a few sales, but since everything was half price, that was not too surprising. By the middle of the afternoon, Tim was just about out of everything and had closed the concession stand, so once again I was free to roam. I watched Elliot’s show for the last time and took lots of photos. I always try to get photos of performers during their shows because they often don’t have a lot of photos of themselves “in action,” as it were.

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Lucy and I had promised the queen we would go to the tea, and Tim wanted to participate in the ax throw tournament, so he just closed down the shop for an hour or so. The tea was great fun as always. Everyone on the cast is so kind and friendly. Listening to the lords and ladies of the court sing was a little hard to do without weeping, but I think we both mostly managed it.
After the tea, I went back to the shop to see if Tim needed me or if I could attend the final joust, and found him in conversation with a very singular young man whose friendliness seemed to be in direct proportion to the number of tattoos he had. He reminded me a bit of one of Spencer’s friends. So we chatted for a few minutes, and then he said, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Why did you ask that question?” I was stumped. He was clearly on alert about something and I feared I had somehow offended him.
“What question?” I had to ask. I couldn’t remember asking a question!
“Why did you ask him if you could go to the joust?”
Ah. He was all ready to defend me against Tim, who is the least oppressive person on earth.
“Well, I work for him so I wanted to know if he needed me.”
Tim confirmed that I was indeed working for him and the young man was visibly relieved. I was kind of tickled that he was ready to come to my defense though!

So, I went to the joust with a smile on my face and took lots of photos and enjoyed every minute of it. They gave out awards for the overall winner of each of the skills games and also of course the overall winner for the whole jousting season. This year it was Don Federico Serna:

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Lucy got a few unusual compliments during the course of the day. One man admired her height and beauty and admonished her to embrace life as a Viking princess! Another raved about her “Jennifer Lawrence” eyes and urged her to cosplay as Katniss. I am not making this up.

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As the hours slipped away, everyone became more emotional. In some cases, the emotion was at least partly fueled by various adult beverages. More favors were exchanged. I received another from Mindy’s daughter Elizabeth, who is the joust manager. I gave out quite a few of my own to various friends. When Tim started closing the shop, Lucy and I decided to haul our stuff out to the car and then return to say our final goodbyes. On the way to the car, my cart turned over and my basket fell out upside down. I had to gather everything back up and stuff it back into cart and basket before continuing on to the car.

When we walked back into the gate, the entire cast was gathered in a big group hug/huddle and singing “The Parting Glass” together. You can’t blame me for tearing up at that. I didn’t get my camera out until they were starting to break up at the end of the song:

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We walked up the boulevard one more time and said more goodbyes. What made it especially hard was knowing that some of these people whom we’ve grown so fond of won’t be returning. Some are moving on to other things, or trying to make actual money. Others are leaving because a private disagreement turned into a public revenge which means that some of our faire people are leaving to start their own faire, which will be in direct competition with Four Winds. I can’t tell you how sad this makes me. But, it is what it is.

The older I get, the more I value and strive to achieve the ability to forgive and reconcile with others. Life is too short to hold grudges. To be honest, I have often been wrong about people so it would be unbelievably arrogant of me to stay angry at someone for an offense that might be more imagined than real.

As we drove home in almost total silence, it was hard to think that in coming weekends there would be no faire to go to. If we were to drive out to the site, it would be all but deserted (there are a handful of people who actually live at the faire). Lucy is hoping to be a squire next year, but we will have to see what that will cost in time and money. I know she would enjoy it.

Quote of the Day:
This is from an email that I received from Sir Dustin, the owner of our faire. “Every man is a knight in preparation for glory. I always felt that respect and a hand up was all that was needed to repair the poverty of East Texas. I still believe that and will fight on. The Faire is the best weapon I have in this fight.”

Parting Shot:

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Musical performers the “Walking Bones,” bereft of an audience, lay down on the job and continued to play their music, much to my amusement. I tipped them.

And Can It Be?

And Can It Be

Charles Wesley

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

The Faire Birthday Banquet Day

Today was a big day. First of all, it was Jasper’s 13th birthday. I can’t believe my “baby” is a teenager! I don’t have any “kids” anymore–just teenagers and adults.

I had to get up early to get ready to take Jasper to the faire for School Day, because School Day starts an hour earlier than normal faire days. (It also ends five hours earlier.) Despite the early rising and hurrying to get ready, we still left a little late and didn’t arrive at the faire until almost 9:30.

There were plenty of kids around, many of them from my original homeschool group. (I still belong to it but am not very active there these days.) I could see that Tim was going to need help, but since the kids were all doing other activities at the beginning, I had a few minutes to hang out with the birthday boy. We went to the forge for a while (something I have sorely missed this season) and then to the archery booth where Jasper got to shoot 10 arrows and did pretty well!

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Then I headed back to the Armoury and got to try to corral the herds of children that drifted through from time to time. Tim had blocked off part of the entrance so that we could have some control over the traffic flow. There was lots of “looking” but not all that much “buying,” especially since the kids are not allowed to buy a knife or sword unless we get permission from a parent.

My friend Kim was there with her two youngest boys today, so when I was tied up with the shop, Jasper hung out with them. During the joust I had another break, so I went up to visit for a few minutes with my knitting friend Mindy.

It was kind of weird to close up shop and leave at only 2:00 in the afternoon. Jasper was the happiest kid alive by then. He kept telling me it was the best day he’s ever had at the faire. I’m so glad he had a great birthday!

By the time we got home, I was kind of tired and grouchy, but I felt a lot better after a shower and a very brief rest. Then I had to make icing to go on the two gluten-free pound cakes I made last night, put on a nice dress, and head over to the high school banquet with Lucy.

This kind of event is what I like to think of as introvert hell. Those who know me may find it hard to believe, but I’m actually a lot better at small talk than I used to be. Just not as good at it as everyone else. I did get to see a couple of friends I haven’t seen for a long time, and I sat with friends from church, which made it a little less stressful.

I think Spencer and Lucy had a pretty good time. After the meal, I left to come take care of a headache and get my feet up for a while before it was time to go pick Lucy up from the after party. Now I’m up too late and need to get some sleep so I can go back and work at the faire again tomorrow.

Parting Shot:

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The Burklin All-Blacks

Is There Such a Thing as Winning at Failing?

Today was so full of fail that I kind of hate to talk about it. Not enough to stay silent, obviously, but it’s been that kind of day.

I woke up with a monster sinus headache that has not been at all responsive to my efforts to get some relief. Then I got all ready to go tutoring, only to discover when I got there that I brought the wrong notebook, and therefore all the materials I intended to share with my students were at home–in the right notebook.

Furthermore, when I knocked at the door, it was answered by a very surprised young lady, who was not at all expecting to see me today. Both of my students thought I was coming tomorrow, so of course they had put off their homework until tonight and were really blindsided by my unexpected appearance on their doorstep. So, it kind of turned into a workshop, and that was okay.

My friend Robin was not at home to explain why she thought I was coming tomorrow when I thought I was coming today! Which meant that she was also not home for me to have lunch and a visit with, so I came home and succumbed to my headache for a while before gritting my teeth for what came next.

Yesterday Lucy brought up the point that she needed shoes for the high school banquet. Which is tomorrow. She might as well have said she needed moon rocks. Somehow, I thought she had suitable shoes, but I was wrong. I knew for sure that I have no shoes to wear, because the one pair of “not flip-flop” shoes I had disappeared months ago. What all this means is that I was forced to go shoe shopping with Lucy this afternoon.

I knew, before we even got into the car, that this was going to be a soul-destroying exercise in futility and despair–and yet, I had to at least try, right? I mean, people sometimes actually win the lottery, so theoretically we might actually find shoes in a shoe store, right?

If you are the kind of person who can walk into a shoe store, go to the section for your size, and then spend a delightful few minutes choosing among the many cute options before walking out the door with shoes that you love, you have no idea how demoralizing it is for the girls in our family to darken the door of a shoe store. Also, I hate you.

I was inwardly weeping before we even walked into the shoe store. I knew what was going to happen. The store would have shoes in Lucy’s size–maybe a total of 10 or 12 pairs. Maybe 4 of those pairs would be “dressy.” None of them would fit, probably because they’re not wide enough. We, like everyone else, need for shoes to meet 4 criteria: they must be the right length, they must be the right width, they must be comfortable (or at least not agonizingly painful), and they must be appropriate for whatever we plan to wear them for. Attractive would be nice, but that’s just crazy talk when your feet are the size of canoes.

The surprising thing that came out of that depressing stop was that they did have a pair of sneakers in Lucy’s size that were wide enough and on sale, so we nabbed them. And since everything in the store was “buy one, get one half off,” I got a scarf that was also on sale for half the sale price. I like to fancy myself as the kind of woman who wears scarves. Women who wear scarves always seem so classy and put-together. I keep buying and making scarves in hopes of attaining classiness, but I always feel like such a poser when I try to wear them and I’m certain that everyone can tell I’m an imposter.

Since the shoe store we went to is actually situated in the parking lot of the mall, we felt duty-bound to check out the shoe stores in the mall, so no one could accuse us of not really trying; and because naturally we love being humiliated multiple times in one afternoon. There were lots and lots of shoes in the mall–but none for Lucy. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and sob. This happens every single time.

I know what you’re thinking. Can’t you just buy shoes online? Lots of people do that and love it. You’re right. That is a good option if you have more than two days’ notice, and if your feet come in a standard size so that you can be reasonably sure that shoes will fit. In the future we will probably order shoes for Lucy online and have them delivered to the store, where she can try them on and return them instantly if they don’t fit–and they probably won’t.

My case is more difficult because of the severe foot injury I had as a teenager, which has led to arthritis and a bulging ankle. There is no such thing as a shoe that looks attractive on my feet, and is also comfortable enough to walk in, which is why I have given up. I have a pair of men’s clogs that I wear in the winter, and I will weep bitter tears when they finally wear out. The rest of the year I wear flip-flops or, if I want to dress up, a pair of Teva rubber sandals (also men’s). It’s not that I don’t want nice shoes. It’s just that they don’t exist for someone with my foot issues and my budget.

I’m not sure what Lucy is going to do about tomorrow. She wants to just go barefoot. I don’t blame her.

Meanwhile, I still had to come home and make three kinds of pizza (because remember, I don’t get cheese anymore) and then after supper go to Walmart to do all the chai party shopping because the next two days are already full.

When I got home, I still had to make two gluten-free pound cakes because in a moment of weakness I agreed to make a dessert for the banquet tomorrow. So, I get to stay up late waiting for cakes to bake and then get up early to go to the faire tomorrow. It is also someone’s birthday tomorrow, and the birthday boy will be coming to the faire with me because it’s school day. I’ve never been to one of the school days before so I’m kind of curious.

In Which I Really Hope the Light at the End of the Tunnel is Not an Oncoming Train

I had my last English class of the school year today, with my younger students. We had a spelling test and then lots of goodies while we watched The Secret World of Arietty because we’ve been reading The Borrowers this semester. I’ve really been struggling with feeling under the weather since yesterday, so I was glad it was an easy class.

However, after everyone left I began to feel worse and it has been hard to focus on what I still need to get done in the next few days. I dread this time of year! It seems that relief is in sight, but it never quite gets here!

If only I can make it through the next couple of weeks, I should get to a better place. In fact, I may have more free time this summer than I’ve had in a while, since there has been virtually no interest in my summer classes this year!

Tomorrow I have tutoring and then baking desserts for the high school banquet. I really hope I feel a lot better when I wake up.

My Writer Fix

Since I was too tired to go shopping yesterday morning, I absolutely had to go shopping today, even though I was still too tired! My family has this crazy idea that they should get to eat three times a day.

This afternoon we had our last high school class. We almost finished our vocabulary story, and then had some goodies and watched some highlights of Ben-Hur. Too bad we had to stop right after the chariot race and depressing death scene. . . And I had forgotten how very slow the pace of that movie is.

Then I had less than an hour to get ready for my critique group and writers’ meeting. I was pretty nervous about the critique group again, but again nothing terrible happened and in fact I got some great input on two different pieces of writing.

We had four new people come to our regular meeting, so it was nice to see some new faces along with the familiar ones. I do so enjoy hanging out with other writers and am already feeling sorry for myself in advance for not being able to go to Realm Makers this year.

Since getting back from the meeting I’ve had some editing and grading to do, but since that’s not much fun to read about, I thought I’d take you on a brief tour of our front yard.

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rose

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rose

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rose

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rose

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primroses

A Breather

Today I was supposed to go shopping early. I didn’t. I was exhausted from staying up late grading papers. This afternoon I was supposed to go to my Bible Study, and I fully intended to, but Robin wasn’t able to go so I got a bit of a reprieve, for which I am grateful because the next six days are going to be very full.

So, I took it easier than usual and ran a couple of errands and did some preparation. Tomorrow is my last high school class for this school year.

So really, the only really important thing about today is that 23 years ago on this day I gave birth to a ten and a half pound baby girl! Happy Birthday to my sweet Mary Rose!

Mary with guitars

In Which I Almost Drink a Bee, and We Sell a Klingon Bat’leth to an Surprising Customer

I hope you had a blessed Resurrection Day. My celebrations were solitary, rather than corporate, as I had agreed to spend the day at the weapons shop again. Lucy and I had an early breakfast before heading back out to the faire.

After our fairly busy day yesterday, today was a huge letdown from a business standpoint. We were ready when the gates opened, but I’m not sure if we saw any patrons for the first two hours. Tim was all set to make funnel cakes and nachos, and pretzels, but he didn’t have customers. Elliot’s first show of the day did not happen because he had no audience at all.

Since there were no customers, I was able to take a quick walk down to the Punch and Judy stage to get a photo of puppeteer DeWitt, whom I had interviewed yesterday. I also had a chance to get a photo of a musician I had interviewed and I got a new interview with a very charming and interesting doll maker.

The method I have used for staying awake the last two days has been to drink Mountain Dew. I’m not proud of it, but it has worked. I poured it into my pewter mug and then sipped on it until the caffeine began to take effect. This afternoon I was on my second Mountain Dew, and had in fact imbibed most of it, when I became engrossed in conversation with another vendor who was visiting our shop. I grabbed my mug to take a sip of Mountain Dew, and found something alive was trying to get past my lips and into my mouth. The little insect legs were scrabbling at my lips. I was pretty sure that, given the sweetness of the drink, the something was a bee. I’m sure you can imagine the alacrity with which I spewed Mountain Dew and bee from my mouth. I was not stung–just a little freaked out. The soda-soaked bee survived the encounter and staggered about on the sawdust floor, no doubt wondering what on earth just happened.

I took a few minutes to go interview our resident mermaid, and I’ve got to tell you, that was fascinating! She offers customers the chance to “birth” a pearl. They pick an oyster from a bowl of water, and then she opens it and extracts the pearl, while giving them a tour of oyster anatomy. Then they get to pick a setting for the pearl and a chain or ribbon to wear it around their necks. I can’t wait to write up this profile. It was so interesting! Did you know there are “mer” Olympics? Mermaid beauty pageants? I didn’t.

Later this afternoon a customer walked into the shop. That was news all by itself, because we hardly had any customers all day. This customer was a Catholic priest who had just conducted the Easter service on the faire grounds. “In the market for a weapon, Father?” I asked. I was joking. “Maybe,” he said. “I’ve got so many already.” A few minutes later he was the proud owner of a Klingon Bat’leth. Before he left the shop he said, “I came in here with a cross and left with a Bat’leth. That’s my kind of religion!” I kind of want to hear one of his sermons now.

Since there were so few patrons, I was free to go to the second joust with Lucy. I have missed getting to go to the jousts and hang out at the forge and all the other stuff I “usually” do. However, doing the interviews has had many compensations. We enjoyed the joust, as we always do, and afterwards Lucy got a short ride on a massive and gorgeous Percheron belonging to the marshal of the joust.

From a business standpoint, the day was very disappointing. We sold a couple of fox tails, a cheap pendant, the bat’leth, and a coyote skin. From a personal standpoint, it was a pretty good day. I enjoy visiting with Tim and the other vendors. I got three more interviews in–all of which fascinated me–and took some photos. I got to see a joust. I’m not complaining.

Parting Shot:

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These two adorable little girls belong to the mermaid. They had so much fun playing in the dirt in front of the shop in their beautiful Easter dresses!

Low in the Grave He Lay

Low in the Grave He Lay

Robert Lowry

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Refrain
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Refrain

Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!
Refrain