Saturday, November 30, 2013

Full Homely Divinity's Advent Calendar

As always, FHD has something beautiful for the new season:
Finding ourselves a bit frustrated by Advent Calendars that are more about Christmas than Advent, we decided to try our hand at creating our own online Advent Calendar. The background for our calendar [below] is a Jesse Tree on an ivory panel from Bavaria, c. 1200, which is now at the Louvre Museum in Paris. (Click here for more information about this piece.) As is the case with most Advent calendars, ours begins on December 1st, rather than the First Sunday of Advent. That simply means that in some years you will have to start the calendar a day or two before Advent begins, while in other years, it will not have enough days. Click on the numbers to follow a link for each day of December leading up to Christmas. All of the numbers are linked, so you can jump ahead if you want, but we recommend discipline and doing one page a day. The Jesse Tree provides one of the themes of the project: the ancient faith history of the people of God as the forebears of the Messiah lived it. The calendar also looks forward to the culmination of God's plan at the end of time, linking the faith history of the past with John's grand apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation.

More about Advent on Full Homely Divinity:
Rediscovering Advent                    
The Saints of Advent                       
Hymns of Advent             
A Devotion for the Last Days of  Advent

The readings from Scripture on the calendar are throughout from the Old Testament - Genesis through the Prophets - and Revelation.  Clearly the idea is to point to Christ as Alpha and Omega - and just at the time he enters the world to "consecrate it with his most loving presence."  Quite a wonderful way to move through Advent, I'd say.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Hymns at the Lesser Hours: Prime V

This is the fifth and last post on the topic of the hymns at Prime; see Part I here, which describes the Office of Prime in a general way.  Part II is here; Part III here; Part IV here.

The following are the hymns listed for Prime, in  Hymn melodies for the whole year, from the Sarum service-books:
Daily throughout the year :-
Jam lucis orto sidere
    (1) On Sundays in Advent ... ... ... ... 24
(2) On all Ferias except in Paschal-tide ... ... 1
(3) On Xmas Day, Feasts of the  B.V. M.,  Dedication of a Church, Nativity of S. John Bapt, SS. Peter and Paul, Translation of S. Thomas, Abp., Feast of' Relics, S. Gregory, & S. Ambrose, (if they fall before Passion-tide), S. Augustin of England, if celebrated out of Paschal-tide, S. Augustin of Hippo, S. Michael & all Angels, S. Jerome, & Translation of S. Edward, K. Conf.  ... ... ... ... 3
(4) On the Feast of S. Stephen & the three days following, & on the Feasts of the Circumcision & of S. Vincent ... 27
(5) On the 6th day in the 8ve of Xmas & daily till the Vigil of Epiphany, and on the Vigil, (if it be a Sunday), & on all Feasts, except those of the lowest class, from the 8ve of Spiphany until the Purification of the B. V. M. ... ... ... ...26
(6) On the Vigils of Christmas & Epiphany (not being a Sunday), & on all Ferias & Vigils from Low Sunday to Ascension Day, & on the Vigil of Pentecost, & on all Simple Feasts of the lowest class throughout the year, & during 8ves. ... ... ... ...2
(7) On the Feast of Epiphany, the Sunday within the 8ve, & on the 8ve day ... ... ... ... ... ... 28
(8) On the remaining days of the 8ve ... ... ... 29
(9) On all Sundays from the 8ve of Epiphany until the 1st  Sunday in Lent, when the Service is of the Sunday ... ... 21
(10) On the 1st & 2пd Sundays in Lent ... ...  ... ...30
(11) On the 3d & 4th Sundays in Lent ... ...  ... ...33
(12) On Passion & Palm Sundays, & on Feasts of the Holy Cross  ... ...   ... ... 35
(13) On all Sundays from Low Sunday until Ascension Day, when the Service is of the Sunday ... ... ... ... 37
(14) On Ascension Day & daily until the Vigil of Pentecost, & on the Feast of Corpus Christi ... ... ... ... 41
(15) On Whitsun Day & daily until Trinity Sunday ...  ... ...42
(16) On Trinity Sunday & all following Sundays until Advent, when the Service is of the Sunday ... ... ... ... 43
(17) During the 8ve of the Dedication of a Church, & on all Feasts, except those of the lowest class, from the Purification of the B.V. M.. until Passiontide, & from Trinity until Advent ... ... ... 4
(18) On all Feasts of Apostles & Evangelists out of Xmas & Paschaltides, except SS. Peter & Paul  ... ... ... ...48
(19) During the 8ves of the Assumption & Nativity of the B.V.M.  ... ... ... ... 63
(20) On all Feasts of Saints occurring between Low Sunday & Ascension Day, except the Annunciation of our Lady ...  ... ...39
(21) On the Feast of All Saints  ... ... ... ...3 or 26
[At Christmas-tide (York) : Agnoscat omne seculum ... ... 55]

Iam lucis orto sidere is the one and only hymn prescribed for use at Prime; there are over twenty different melodies in the list above, though!  The melodies used for  Iam lucis orto sidere vary by feast and season - Sundays are counted this way too;  the hymn takes on the melody associated with the season or holy day in which it's sung.  (As you can see from the note above, Agnoscat omne seculum was used only in Christmastide at York; I go over that one just here in this post.)

This is TPL's entry for Iam lucis orto sidere; it's noted that "This 6th century hymn is used in the Roman Breviary at the Office of Prime. In the Liturgia Horarum it is found at Thursday Lauds for the second and fourth weeks of the Psalter during Ordinary time."   These are the words from that page, in Latin and English (translation by Alan G. McDougall (1895-1964)).
IAM lucis orto sidere,
Deum precemur supplices,
ut in diurnis actibus
nos servet a nocentibus.    

Linguam refrenans temperet,
ne litis horror insonet,
visum fovendo contegat,
ne vanitates hauriat.    

Sint pura cordis intima,
absistat et vecordia:
carnis terat superbiam
potus cibique parcitas.    

Ut cum dies abscesserit,
noctemque sors reduxerit,
mundi per abstinentiam
ipsi canamus gloriam.    

Deo Patri sit gloria,
eiusque soli Filio,
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
nunc et per omne saeculum.

NOW in the sun's new dawning ray,
lowly of heart, our God we pray
that He from harm may keep us free
in all the deeds this day shall see.

May fear of Him our tongues restrain,
lest strife unguarded speech should stain:
His favoring care our guardian be,
lest our eyes feed on vanity.

May every heart be pure from sin,
and folly find no place therein:
scant meed of food, excess denied,
wear down in us the body's pride

That when the light of day is gone,
and night in course shall follow on,
we, free from cares the world affords,
may chant the praises that is our Lord's.

All laud to God the Father be,
all praise, Eternal Son, to Thee;
|all glory, as is ever meet,
to God the Holy Paraclete.

Here's the chant score for melody #39, used for  Iam lucis orto sidere "On  all Feasts of Saints occurring between Low Sunday & Ascension Day, except the Annunciation of our Lady":

This is the same melody used for the Sarum Mattins hymn, Aurora Lucis Rutilat ("The Day Draws on with Golden Light") (mp3 here); again the audio file comes from the LLPB.

Here's melody #3 again, one option for Iam lucis orto sidere "On the Feast of All Saints"

The other option for Iam lucis orto sidere "On the Feast of All Saints" is melody #26; this is the same melody used for the All Saints hymn at Lauds and 2nd Evensong, Christe, redemptor omnium, Conserva - which in turn is the same tune used for the Christmas Matins hymn, Christe, Redemptor omnium, De:

Here, from LLPB is an mp3 that matches this tune; it's called "Jesus, the Father's Only Son," and is listed as a "Hymn for the first Vespers of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord."

York, as usual, sings melody #55 for Prime in Christmastide; the melody is the same one used at all the other offices there:

I still don't have an audio file of this tune; sorry about that.  Will try to remedy as soon as I can.

The hymn itself come from a long Fortunatus hymn/poem, and I'm not quite sure which portion of it they sing for Prime, or whether it's sung in its entirety.  Herem againm is that entire poem/hymn from this book about the Christmas season by Dom Gueringer.
Agnoscat omne saeculum
Vemsse vitae praemium;
Post  hostis asperi jugum
Apparuit redemptio

Esaias quae cecinit
Complete sunt in Virgine
Annuntiavit Angelus
Sanctus replevit Spiritus.

Maria ventre concipit
Verbi fidelis semine:
Quem totus orbis non capit
Portant puellae viscera.

Radix Jesse floruit,
Et Virga fructum edidit;
Foecunda partum protulit,
Et Virgo mater permanet.

Praesepo poni pertulit
Qui lucis auctor exstitit,
am Patre coelos condidit,
Sub Matre pannos induit.

Legem dedit qui saeculo,
Cujus decem praecepta sunt,
Dignando factus est homo
Sub Legis esse vinculo.

Adam vetus quod polluit
Adam novus hoc abluit:
Tumens quod ille dejicit
Humiliimus hie erigit,

Jam nata lux est et salus,
Fugnta nox et victa mora,
Venite gentes, credite,
Deum Maria protulit. Amen.

Let all ages acknowledge  that he is come,
Who is the reward of life.
After mankind had carried the yoke of its cruel enemy
Our Redemption appeared.
What Isaias foretold,
has been fulfilled in the Virgin;
an Angel announced the mystery to her,
and the Holy Ghost filled her by his power.

Mary conceived in her womb,
for she believed in the word that was spoken to her:
the womb of a youthful maid holds Him,
whom the whole earth cannot contain.

The Root of Jesse has given its flower,
and the Branch has borne its fruit:
Mary has given birth to Jesus,
and the Mother is still the spotless Virgin.

He that created the light
suffers himself to be laid in a manger;
He that, with the Father, made the heavens,
is now wrapt by his Mother's hand in swaddling-clothes.

He that gave to the world the ten
commandments of the law, deigns,
by becoming Man, to be
Under the bond of the law.

What the old Adam defiled,
that the new Adam has purified;
and what the first cast down by his pride,
the second raised up again by his humility.

Light and salvation are now born to us,
night is driven away, and death is vanquished:
oh! come, all ye people, believe;
God is born of Mary. Amen.

Here's a peek-in to the SSM Breviary entry for Prime:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Richard Lloyd: Drop Down Ye Heavens (AKA "The Advent Prose")

The Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge sings this setting of the Advent text.

This text is commonly known as "The Advent Prose"; it's attributed to Prudentius.  Here is the full text:
Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

Be not very angry, O Lord, neither remember our iniquity for ever:
thy holy cities are a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation:
our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing,
and we all do fade as a leaf:
our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away;
thou hast hid thy face from us:
and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen;
that ye may know me and believe me:
I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour:
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour forth righteousness: let the earth be fruitful, and bring forth a Saviour.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, my salvation shall not tarry:
I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions:
fear not for I will save thee:
for I am the Lord thy god, the holy one of Israel, thy Redeemer.

This is the English version of the plainsong hymn:

And here's the chant score with Latin words, from the Liber Usualis:

 More about the "Advent Prose" from this page:
The Advent Prose is a series of texts adapted from the book of the prophet Isaiah, and said, or more usually sung, in churches during the season of Advent. In its Latin form, it is attributed to Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, who lived in the fourth century. The English translation is traditional. It is most common in high church Anglican or Roman Catholic churches, but no doubt known elsewhere as well. There are several ways of singing it, but a common one is for the Rorate section, shown here with emphasis to be sung as a chorus, and for the choir to take the verses, with the chorus alternating. Although the English text says 'Drop down, ye heavens...', the Latin verb rorare actually means 'to make or deposit dewdrops', a fact which evaded me when I first came to the piece. Similarly, justum in the second line means 'the just man', rather than 'righteousness'.

More here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chant from Solesmes, 1930

This is the "Monastic Choir of the Abbey of St. Pierre de Solesmes," singing a variety of chant from the liturgy (both the Mass and Office) - complete with scratchy-sounding vinyl.

This is from the YouTube page:
One LP of a two LP collection issued in the early 1960s on the RCA Victor Red Seal Collector's Issue label, catalogue number LCT-6011.
Images of the slipcase covers of what I believe are the original Decca recordings can be seen here:

Solesmes Abbey or St. Peter's Abbey, Solesmes (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes) is a Benedictine monastery in Solesmes (Sarthe, France), famous as the source of the restoration of Benedictine monastic life in the country under Dom Prosper Guéranger after the French Revolution. It was originally founded in 1010 as a priory of the Benedictine Le Mans abbey. The abbey is noted for its crucial contribution to the advancement of the Roman Catholic liturgy and the revival of Gregorian chant. A documentary film on life at Solesmes was made in 2009 and focuses on the tradition of the chant at the monastery.

Here's Solesmes' website.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?"

I can't remember, exactly, how I came across these videos.  I don't know who Scot McKnight is - he says here he's an Anabaptist - but I somehow found my way here, and then listened to this talk all the way through, both videos.  McKnight is, as far as I can tell, talking about Evangelicalism to Evangelicals, and his purpose here is to ask the question, "What is the Gospel?" - and then to answer it.

I've wondered about this question, too - because awhile back, I came into contact with what I think of now as "Reformation Ideas" through a priest in the Episcopal Church.   The priest in question, when talking about another priest (a liberal one, very into what might be called "the social Gospel"), said to me:  "He really can't ever preach the Gospel, can he?"   I wondered at the time what that actually meant; I had always assumed "the social Gospel" was "the Gospel," and I was kind of at a loss to understand what was being said.  What was I missing?

Everything about the church is new to me, and so was this; I learned eventually that, at least according to that particular priest's understanding of Reformation Theology, "the Gospel" is "what Jesus Christ did on the cross for our sake" (AKA, "Justification by Faith"). 

Scott McKnight, in this video (and perhaps elsewhere?), says he started to wonder about this, too.  In a very interesting anecdote (in Part 1), he mentions to a pastor of his acquaintance that he's thinking about the question, "What is the Gospel?"  The pastor responds:  "Easy.  'Justification by faith.'"  McKnight then asks:  "Did Jesus preach the Gospel?" - to which the colleague responded:  "Nope.   He couldn't have.   No one understood the Gospel until Paul.  No one could understand the Gospel until after the crucifixion, the Resurrection, and Pentecost."   McKnight said:  "Not even Jesus?"  The pastor said:  "Nope.  Not possible."  (McKnight adds his silent, sardonic thought at this point:  "Poor Jesus.  Born on the wrong side of the cross....")

As I've said before:  there's something about Reformation Theology - particularly the American Evangelical version of it - that really doesn't sit well with me.  I couldn't quite say what until now, but McKnight's put his finger on it for me here:  the Gospel, in Reformation Theology, has become all about us, and really not very much at all about Christ.    And that - the self-regarding, self-referential thinking - is, for me, exactly the primary flaw in Evangelicalism.   I've written about this before, from another angle, after coming into deeper contact with Reformation Theology and the idea of "grace":
It’s true that we can do nothing to merit the Grace of God; it’s true that we don’t deserve it, and that we can’t earn it. And sometimes it appears to me that the Evangelical thing is a worry that somehow we’re going to lose God’s love by “improving”! In other words, unless we acknowledge at all times that we are bad, bad, bad – and that nothing we do can change that fact – God will abandon us. Because that is the basis of the relationship! But of course, that is – as they say in A.A. – “pride in reverse.” It still leaves us at the center of the universe; we’re still focused on ourselves! The point, really, is to let go of all that, and become “channels” or “instruments” of God’s will.
But this did not get at the heart of the problem, as McKnight's analysis does; the "what Jesus did for me" idea keeps people stuck thinking about themselves; this shows up, though, apparently, all the way through Evangelical theology.   The whole point of the thing, though, is to stop thinking about ourselves!  That is the sine qua non of all spiritual endeavor, and the heart of Christianity, too.   (I've always had a bit of difficulty with the "what Jesus did for me/justification by faith" idea anyway; it's always seemed to me way too much like a kind of quid pro quo - a bizarre kind of "Salvation Equation" - and one that, tragically, ignores the story itself!   Because the story itself is where all the power is.  McKnight talks about this in Part 2.)  

McKnight goes on to say, simply, that:  "The Gospel is the announcement that Jesus is the Messiah - and that he is the point, and goal, and telos of the narrative."

All that means, naturally, that yes, of course:  Jesus preached the Gospel.  He announced himself:  not just once, but many times.  As McKnight says:  "The Gospel belongs to the narrative.  But the text has disappeared under interpretation."

It's a strong talk - and I think a real broadside across Evangelicalism's bow.  I'm assuming this is part of the "New Perspective on Paul," but don't know for sure; I'm very glad, though,  to see the move away from things like "imputation" and "justification by faith," neither of which have ever made any sense, or seemed very real, to me.  And I'm glad that "the narrative" is being put back front and center here; as McKnight says:  "The Gospel, or to 'evangelize,' in the New Testament, is to herald the story of Jesus as Messiah."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Seen and heard Sunday at Divine Service: Christ the King (November 24, 2013)

The white, high holy day vestments.

The wonderful collect:
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The absolutely splendid Gospel reading, perfect for this feast of ineffable mystery and beauty:
Luke 23:33-43

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing. The people stood by, watching Jesus on the cross; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

The Offertory:

And speaking of weeping at hymns:  I did, today, at the final words of the final hymn, "Crown him with many crowns."   The video below comes from Queen Elizabeth II's 50th Jubilee, and the reason for weeping is right there in the text.  It becomes very stark and clear when watching the video; it's exceedingly moving that the Queen, a "crowned head" herself, had made this choice:  "Crown Him the Lord of Lords, Who over all doth reign....."

It's good to know there are still people like her in the world.

You can get nine verses here (some of which are used in the video above), but we sing only these five:
Crown Him With Many Crowns

Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne;
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own;
awake, my soul, and sing of him
who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown him the Son of God
before the worlds began,
and ye, who tread where he hath trod,
crown him the Son of man;
who every grief hath known
that wrings the human breast,
and takes and bears them for his own,
that all in him may rest.

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed over the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save;
his glories now we sing,
who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

Crown him of lords the Lord,
who over all doth reign,
who once on earth, the incarnate Word,
for ransomed sinners slain,
now lives in realms of light,
where saints with angels sing
their songs before him day and night,
their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown him the Lord of heaven,
enthroned in worlds above;
crown him the King,to whom is given,
the wondrous name of Love.
Crown him with many crowns,
as thrones before him fall,
crown him, ye kings, with many crowns,
for he is King of all.

Not heard today, but why not post this video of the wonderful Dutch carol, "King Jesus Hath a Garden," anyway - just for the joy of it?

1. King Jesus hath a garden, full of divers flowers,
Where I go culling posies gay, all times and hours.
There naught is heard but Paradise bird,
Harp, dulcimer, lute,
With cymbal, trump and tymbal,
And the tender, soothing flute.

2. The Lily, white in blossom there, is Chastity:
The Violet, with sweet perfume, Humility. Refrain

3. The bonny Damask-rose is known as Patience:
The blithe and thrifty Marygold, Obedience. Refrain

4. The Crown Imperial bloometh too in yonder place,
'Tis Charity, of stock divine, the flower of grace. Refrain

5. Yet, 'mid the brave, the bravest prize of all may claim
The Star of Bethlem-Jesus-bless'd be his Name! Refrain

6. Ah! Jesu Lord, my heal and weal, my bliss complete,
Make thou my heart thy garden-plot, fair, trim and neat. Refrain

Anglicans Online offers a fantastic meditation on what it calls, aptly, "one of the richest days of the liturgical year."   Here's the last part of it - but I definitely advise reading the whole thing:
The lifetime of every reader of Anglicans Online has been a period in which every sort of ideology has been substituted for the kingdom of God, by Christians no less than by others. We have seen capitalism, communism, racism, sexism, absolutism, bullionism (our favourite), spiritualism, nationalism and even mechanism fail to meet completely the needs of the human soul. Our Christian faith is that the reign of Jesus Christ in the kingdom of God does meet every need of our souls and our societies; the reign of Christ is in our hearts and in our actions, not in our forebears' misunderstanding of a King Jesus who would overthrow the Romans. This instead is the kingdom of God described by our Lord:
Then the king will say [...], 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'
This parable teaches us that Christ the King reigns when he reigns within us.

Christ reigns in weakness from the Cross itself, in weakness transformed into power and beauty through forgiveness and self-offering.

Christ reigns in joy from the time of his first miracle, in joy made ever new through food and wine and song.

Christ reigns in poverty begun in his childhood in Nazareth, in poverty without earthly power but with dignity and honor and kin.

Christ reigns in service from the time of his last supper, in service like the washing of feet and the clothing of the naked and the feeding of the poor.

Christ reigns in teaching from the beginning of his ministry, in teaching that nourishes every mind and heart open to it.

Christ reigns in learning from his childhood, in learning through which he grew and changed, and we do, too.

Christ reigns in sorrow, in sorrow so deep that no pain of ours is beyond his sympathy and empathy.

Christ reigns in quiet and calm, in 'the silence of eternity, interpreted by love'.

Christ reigns in love itself, in love made perfect in every firm and gentle act of a father for his daughter, of a priest for a penitent, of a friend for a friend, of a labourer for her family, of a professor for his students, of a cook for them who will eat, of a doctor for such as need care, of a poet who feeds our hearts, of a builder who keeps rain and snow from our mortal frames, of an altar guild member who has washed and ironed linens for 50 years, of a human feeding an animal, of a farmer who tends the plants that give us nutrition, of a cleaner who keeps us safe from infection of mind or body. Christ reigns in love as care takes place and increases among all of God's creatures, and as wickedness and selfishness and confusion are banished from our motives.

Christ is king when he reigns in our hearts.

See you next week. Advent is upon us!

Veni Redemptor gentium (Andrew Smith / New York Polyphony)

Wow.  Here's New York Polyphony singing Andrew Smith's gorgeous setting of this Advent/Christmas office hymn.  Stunning, as always.

The lyrics here alternate, Latin then English - but here are all the original Latin words:
VENI, redemptor gentium,
ostende partum Virginis;
miretur omne saeculum:
talis decet partus Deum.

Non ex virili semine,
sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei factum est caro
fructusque ventris floruit.

Alvus tumescit Virginis,
claustrum pudoris permanet,
vexilla virtutum micant,
versatur in templo Deus.

Procedat e thalamo suo,
pudoris aula regia,
geminae gigas substantiae
alacris ut currat viam.

Aequalis aeterno Patri,
carnis tropaeo cingere,
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.

Praesepe iam fulget tuum
lumenque nox spirat novum,
quod nulla nox interpolet
fideque iugi luceat.

Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

From the YouTube page:
Veni Redemptor gentium - Andrew Smith (b. 1970)
Performed by New York Polyphony
Images from Robert Greene's "Snow Study/Weather Control"
© 2010 Prewar Cinema

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Apocalyptic theology lives! a report from the diaspora"

An interesting new post from Fleming Rutledge's Generous Orthodoxy blog:
After spending a week at Princeton Seminary, talking one-in-one with students and meeting with two advanced seminars in the theology of preaching, I am amazed and grateful that the work I have been doing for so many years is not a solitary project being carried out in a corner, but is breaking out across the scholarly landscape. When I was at Duke last spring, I met a few young students who were intensely interested in apocalyptic theology, and I have been corresponding with a few more, but here at Princeton it is even more obvious that there is a real movement afoot. Students are reading not only the "fathers and grandfathers" (see my apocalyptic "family tree" on this website) but are beginning to do their own work. Two PhD students at Princeton left today for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion/ Society of Biblical Literature; they are both giving papers closely related to apocalyptic theology. At that meeting, virtually all the 3rd-generation apocalyptic theologians, or those who are more or less closely related to them, will be present to encourage (and critique) this fourth generation. Why is this important? Well, for those who believe that a dimension of the New Testament that had long been in eclipse is actually its center, it is exhilarating. Apocalyptic theology offers a way of preaching and teaching the gospel that brings us back to the earliest apostolic message and yet puts us in touch at the same time with what God is doing in the world. It frees us from the burden of "if-then" and lets us live "because-therefore" ("If I am sufficiently well-behaved, spiritual, active for justice [or whatever], God can 'realize his dream' of the Kingdom" vs. "Because God has already done everything in Jesus Christ, I am already on my way to do the good works he has prepared for me to walk in" (Ephesians 2:10 as interpreted in the Book of Common Prayer). Properly understood, the gospel liberates us for action, not because we believe that the coming Kingdom depends on our doing the right thing, but because we live according to the promise that God is already working through his servants to do the right thing, namely to bring his Kingdom to pass in his coming new creation. This is only a hint. There is much more! A search of this website will show several more entries explaining apocalyptic theology.

I did do the search she recommends here, and found this post from April of this year:  How apocalyptic theology changed me, which I'm reading now.   This second post starts out this way:
This is an interesting topic for me because it requires me to describe the way that an introduction to the apocalyptic interpretation of the New Testament required a thorough overhaul of my previous point of view—although it must be said that I had a semiconscious leaning toward it all along, having been a lover of God and the Bible all my life.

First I will list (again) three distinguishing factors in apocalyptic which I believe are sine qua non. (Others might make a different list. I have posted longer lists on my website, which can be found with a search for “apocalyptic.” In my forthcoming book on the crucifixion there will be a much longer discussion.) I will then move into a direct response to your questions.

The three are:
  1. The divine agency
  2. The active presence of an Enemy, or Powers, hostile to God
  3. The incarnation, life, cross, and resurrection of Christ understood as a novum, discontinuous with what has gone before

Very interesting so far.  I love point #1, to which the key is this sentence:  "When we read Scripture with “apocalyptic” eyes, however, we become aware that God is not an object of a search but an acting Subject."  

More about this second post later, once I've finished it.  I'm thinking quite a bit lately about some various and disparate ideas:  the 613 Mitzvot, Judaism in general, "the way we live now," philosophical vs. political systems, and a number of other things (including an attempt to understand and think about Utilitarianism!).   

Somehow they all seem to be related; not quite sure how that works yet.....