Friday, January 31, 2014

Why the first step is the First Step

From Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step 1 (p. 24):
"Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.'s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect— unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

More from the Candlemas Procession (Feburary 2): Adorna thalamum

Adorna thalamum is another of the three antiphons used in the Candlemas Procession, along with Ecce Dominus Noster and Lumen ad Revelationem Gentium.  The antiphon is sung here, I believe, by the Pro Cantione Antiqua; it's beautiful.

CPDL has the Latin words for the antiphon, along with a couple of variants, and an English translation for all three versions:
Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion, et suscipe Regem Christum:
amplectere Mariam, quae est coelestis porta:
[amplectere Messiam gratulare huiusce matri:]
ipsa enim portat Regem gloriae novi luminis.
Subsistit Virgo, adducens manibus Filium ante luciferum genitum:
quem accipiens Simeon in ulnas suas praedicavit populis
Dominum eum esse vitae et mortis et Salvatorem mundi.

Variant 1
Adorna thalamum tuum, Syon, et suscipe regem regum Christum:
amplectere Mariam, quae novo lumine
subsistens Virgo portat regem gloriae.
Hunc accipiens Simeon exclamavit et dixit:
Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine,
Secundum verbum tuum in pace.

Variant 2
Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion, et suscipe Regem Christum:
Quem virgo concepit Virgo peperit quem genuit adoravit.

Adorn thy bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ the King:
embrace Mary, who is the gate of heaven,
[embrace the Messiah and congratulate this mother}
who herself truly brings the glorious King of new light.
She remains a virgin, though bearing in her hands a Son begotten before the daystar,
whom Simeon, taking him in his arms, proclaimed to the people
to be the Lord of life and death, and Saviour of the world.

Variant 1
Adorn thy bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ the king of kings:
embrace Mary, who remaining virgin, in new light,
carries the king of glory.
Whom Simeon took in his arms, exclaimed, and said:
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word".

Variant 2
Adorn thy bridal chamber, O Sion, and receive Christ the King:
He whom the Virgin conceived and bore, she also worshipped.

Here's the full chant score:

Here's another video of the same chant, sung quite beautifully (and live, I think, in 2012 at the Church of Saint Theresa of Avila in Budapest, Hungary) by the Schola Hungarica. Strangely enough, the schola seems not to be singing the Latin text.   It could be that they are singing in the vernacular (Hungarian?); if anybody knows, could they let me know in the comments?  The video is labeled "Adorna thalamum," and the music is definitely right; occasionally, too, we get a word in its right place ("Miriam," for instance).

This page at the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 describes the Candlemas Procession, and notes that St. John of Damascus wrote the text for this antiphon, which is "one of the few pieces which, text and music, have been borrowed by the Roman Church from the Greeks. The other antiphons are of Roman origin."

William Byrd set this text, and so did Orlando di Lassus; here's a video of di Lassus', sung at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, as part of their Candlemas Procession, it appears, from 2013. They are singing the main Latin text above.

Here's another Candlemas liturgy, posted at
Candlemas Procession
From the Book of Occasional Services

This procession is intended for use immediately before the Holy Eucharist on the Feast of the Present of Our Lord in the Temple

When circumstances permit, the congregation gathers at a place apart from the church so that all may go into the church in procession. If necessary, however, the procession takes place within the church. In this case it is suitable that the celebrant begin the rite standing just inside the door of the church.

All are provided with unlighted candles. A server holds the celebrant's candle until the procession begins. The congregation stands facing the celebrant.

The Celebrant greets the people with these words

Thanks be to God.
People Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The following canticle is then sung or said, during which the candles are lighted.

A Light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel,
A Light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.

Lord, you now have set your servant free*
to go in peace as you have promised.
A Light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.

For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,*
whom you have prepared for all the world to see.
A Light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.

The Celebrant then says the following prayer:
Let us pray.

God our Father, source of all light, today you revealed to the aged Simeon you light which enlightens the nations. Fill our hearts with the light of faith, that we who bear these candles may walk in the path of goodness, and come to the Light that shines forever, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Procession
Let us go forth in peace.
In the Name of Christ. Amen.
During the procession, all carry lighted candles; and appropriate hymns, psalms, or anthems are sung.

At a suitable place, the procession may halt while the following or some other appropriate Collect is said:
Let us pray.

O God, you have made this day holy by the presentation of your Son in the Temple, and by the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mercifully grant that we, who delight in her humble readiness to be the birth-giver of the Only-begotten, may rejoice for ever in our adoption as his sisters and brother; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following antiphon and psalm is appropriate as the procession approaches the Altar
We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O Lord, in the midst of your temple. Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world's end; your right hand is full of justice.

In place of the long antiphon given above, this shorter form may be used with the appointed Psalm
We have waited on your loving kindness, O Lord, in the midst of your temple.

Psalm 48:1-2,10-13
Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; *
in the city of our God is his holy hill.
Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion, *
the very center of the world and the city of the great King.
Let Mount Zion be glad
and the cities of Judah rejoice, *
because of your judgments.
Make the circuit of Zion;
walk round about her; *
count the number of her towers.
Consider well her bulwarks;
examine her strongholds; *
that you may tell those who come after.
This God is our God for ever and ever; *
he shall be our guide for evermore.

On arrival in the sanctuary, the celebrant goes to the usual place, and the Eucharist begins with the Gloria in excelsis.

After the Collect of the Day, all extinguish their candles.

If desired, the candles of the congregation may be lighted again at the time of the dismissal, and borne by them as they leave the church.

And here's some interesting history about this feast:
Egeria, writing around AD 380, attests to a feast of the Presentation in the Jerusalem Church. It was kept on February 14th. The day was kept by a procession to the Constantinian basilica of the Resurrection, with a homily on Luke 2:22-39. However, the feast had no proper name at this point; it was simply called the 40th day after Epiphany. This shows that the Jerusalem church celebrated Jesus' birth on the Epiphany Feast (as is common in some Eastern Churches today).

In regions where Christ's birth was celebrated on December 25th, the feast began to be celebrated on February 2nd, where it is kept in the West today. In 542, the Emperor Justinian introduced the feast to the entire Eastern Roman empire in thanksgiving for the end to a great pestilence afflicting the city of Constantinople. Perhaps this is when Pope Gregory I brought the feast to Rome. Either way, by the 7th century, it is contained in the Gelasianum Sacramentary. Pope Sergius (687-701) introduced the procession to the Candlemas service. The blessing of candles did not come into common use until the 11th century.

While some scholars have asserted that the Candlemas feast was developed in the Middle Ages to counteract the pagan feasts of Imbolc and Lupercalia, many scholars reject this, based on Medieval documents. While the feast does coincide with these two pagan holidays, the origins of the feast are based in Scriptural chronology. Some superstitions developed about Candlemas, including the belief that if one does not take down Christmas decorations by Candlemas, traces of the holly and berries will bring about the death of the person involved. In past times, Candlemas was seen as the end of the Christmas season.

Candlemas Day was also the day when some cultures predicted weather patterns. Farmers believed that the remainder of winter would be the opposite of whatever the weather was like on Candlemas Day. An old English song goes:

    If Candlemas be fair and bright,
    Come winter, have another flight;
    If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,
    Go winter, and come not again.

Thus if the sun cast a shadow on Candlemas day, more winter was on the way; if there was no shadow, winter was thought to be ending soon. This practice led to the folklore behind "Groundhog's Day," which falls on Candlemas Day.

Today, the feast is still celebrated on February 14th in some Eastern Churches, including the Armenian Church, where the feast is called, "The Coming of the Son of God into the Temple." Most churches celebrate it on February 2nd.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land: Chapter 6, The Charismatic Gifts"

An interesting post today at Experimental Theology; he's been reading William Stringfellow's An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land and commenting chapter-by-chapter.   (As far as I can tell he's previously read through every Stringfellow book on the blog this way, but I haven't read any of the others.)

This is the last chapter of this book, apparently; it's fantastic to think of the "Charismatic Gifts" this way!  Here's another way to think about "faith in motion," about signs and signposts of discovery - and about  "discerning the remarkable in common happenings" (AKA, " sacramental living").  My bold below.
For Stringfellow the foundational gift is "discerning the spirits."
According to Stringfellow "discerning the signs and spirits" is learning
to read the world biblically, which means apocalyptically and eschatologically.

Two fancy words there. For Stringfellow, reading the world
apocalyptically means discerning truth from lies in the dehumanizing
forces facing us in the world. Apocalypse means "unveiling."
Discerning the spirits is lifting the veil of lies to see the forces of death at
work in the background, the forces we cannot see because of the babel
produced by the principalities and powers. For Stringfellow, reading the
world eschatologically is placing those dehumanizing forces under
judgment and living in hope.

Stringfellow describing the gift of discernment:
Discerning signs has to do with comprehending the remarkable in common happenings, with perceiving the saga of salvation within the era of the Fall. It has to do with the ability to interpret ordinary events in both apocalyptic and eschatological connotations, to see portents of death where others find progress or success but, simultaneously, to behold
tokens of the reality of Resurrection or hope where others are consigned to confusion or despair. Discerning the signs does not seek spectacular proofs or await the miraculous, but, rather, it means sensitivity to the Word of God indwelling in all Creation and transfiguring common history, while remaining radically realistic about death's vitality inall that happens.
This is one of my most favorite Stringfellow passages. What is the gift
of discernment? It is discerning the remarkable in common happenings.
Perceiving the saga of Salvation all around us. Interpreting ordinary
events in biblical ways. Seeing portents of death where others find
progress and success. And finding tokens of resurrection where there is
confusion and despair.

In summarizing the gift of discernment Stringfellow says, "In the midst of babel, speak the truth."

Truth telling--reading the world biblically--is a charismatic gift that
allows us to find and care for our humanity in the midst of the Fall.

Stringfellow goes on to describe three other gifts--speaking in tongues,
healing and exorcism
. In each case Stringfellow is less concerned with
the personal and "miraculous" experience of these gifts than with the
political character of the charismatic gifts:
It spares Christians, and others, the pitfalls of vain, exotic,
individualistic, and exclusive views of the charismatic gifts to treat them, as the Bible does, politically

Each and every charismatic gift is concerned with the restoration and renewal of human life in society. All have to do with how, concretely,human beings are enabled to cope with the multiple and variegated claims of death. The charismatic gifts furnish the only powers to which humans have access against the aggressions of the principalities. The gifts dispel idolatry and free human beings to celebrate Creation, which is,
biblically speaking, integral to the worship of God. The gifts equippersons to live humanly in the midst of the Fall. The exercise of these gifts constitutes the essential tactics of resistance to the power of death.
Speaking in tongues at Pentecost expressed "the emancipation of human beings from the bonds of nation, culture, race, language, ethnicity."  Speaking in tongues recognizes a universal humanity--of which the church is a sign--stripped of the false divisions created and maintained by the principalities and powers.

More, speaking in tongues represents the ability of the church to speak
freely and spontaneously in the midst of babel. Speaking in tongues
represents the church speaking in her own voice and language.
Life-giving words that cannot be co-opted, controlled or censored by the

Healing is less about physical healing than a declaration that the
threat of death--a threat made by the powers--holds no fear for the
confessing community.
Consequently, a community freed from the threat of death falls outside systems of control as death is the means of
coercion wielded by the powers, the state especially. As Stringfellow
To so surpass death is utterly threatening politically, it shakes andshatters the very foundation of political reality because death is, as has been said, the only moral and political sanction of theState...[Resurrection exemplifies] life transcending the moral power of death in this world and this world's strongholds and kingdoms.
Finally, exorcism is casting out the spirituality of death. Exorcism,
thus, sits at the heart of the Christian resistance to death. As
Stringfellow points out, the Lord's Prayer is itself "a form of
In invoking God and asking for protection from "evil" and
"the evil one" the Lord's Prayer is a "act of exorcism."

Stringfellow goes on to describe how exorcism can be expressed as
"sacramental protest" against the forces of death. For example, he
describes the actions of the Catonsvile Nine, who burned Vietnam draft cards with homemade napalm while saying the Lord's Prayer, as a "liturgy of exorcism."

Such are the practices, according to Stringfellow, which humanize life during the Fall.

In the "Spiritual But Not Religious" vein....

A friend asked me what I thought about the whole "Spiritual But Not Religious" thing, and how the Church might deal with it - which set me to thinking.

Most A.A. members would, I think, classify themselves this way.   Some of us add "religious" to our résumés after awhile - but almost everybody, at least in my experience, starts out as a SBNR.  And in fact, A.A. is a fantastic SBNR path; it borrows just about all of its practices from religion - but it's not a religion itself.  Or perhaps it is, in some way - but it's an experiential one, without Creed. 

And, starting off as a SBNR in A.A., I found that what interested and attracted me were things like Zen koans, and the sort of "spiritual aphorisms" we heard in meetings.  One such saying was "When the student is ready the teacher appears"; while this may appear to be facile, it's actually simply true.  It's a commentary on the learning process - and on the experiential acquiring of "new ears" with which to hear and understand.   It's saying:  yesterday I couldn't hear or understand this, because I didn't know enough, but somehow, today I can; time and experience have broken the barrier.  The "teacher" is the event or person responsible for bringing about this epiphany.  (The idea is actually quite close to "Knock, and it shall be opened to you; seek, and you shall find.")  It all sounds quite mysterious - but that's just the way it's wrapped; it's a simple truism about learning.  The wrapping, though, is actually quite important!

Later on, I fell for Rumi.  There's nothing better than this, if you're an SBNR:
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving, it doesn't matter
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come even if you have broken your vow a thousand times,
Come, yet again, come, come.
What's interesting there is that there's talk of "vows"; a little bit of straight-ahead religious talk right in the middle of Sufi ecstasy.  Genius!  Rumi is, in fact, fantastic at stuff like this; here's another example:
One went to the door of the Beloved and knocked.
A voice asked, "Who is there?"
He answered, "It is I."
The voice said, "There is no room for Me and Thee."
The door was shut.

After a year of solitude and deprivation he returned
and knocked.
A voice from within asked, "Who is there?"
The man responded, "It is Thee."
The door was opened for him.

Very A.A., that: "the Beloved" is never strictly defined - yet clearly he's speaking directly of "that than which nothing greater can be conceived" - i.e., of God.  He's speaking directly to the "spiritual sense."   And he's speaking a deep truth:  there really isn't room for "Me and Thee" in the spiritual life - and again, this is a bit of deliberate opacity.  It's meant to tickle ears and souls, and lead people to wonder what it can actually mean - which is rather refreshing in a climate (even in the church) in which everything must be defined.  It's nice to be left hanging a little bit.  And again:  it's straightforwardly about the inner life, and about learning and experience.  (Another beautiful aspect is the totally unexpected exchange of "Me" for "Thee"!  How strange, and how wonderful - and how true, in a dozen ways.  It hands back to God what was God's to begin with - all while expressing the need for "self-emptying."  I find this little poem miraculous in so many ways.)

I realized that what attracted me to things like this was the sense that there was a path one could follow - a path that others had followed, and who were now looking back and describing their experiences.   At the time, I took this to be the "Zen path," and it to me involved movement.   And I think that a sense of "journeying" - this kind of inward journeying, through the highways of the soul and human emotion and experience - is something we're sort of missing in the church.   We have no particular sense of, or way of talking about, the fact we are all on a journey of discovery, and that there are real and describable signposts along the way that we can talk about.

And I think the SBNR resonate with things like this; I sure did.  Fortunately, these things do exist, in every tradition.   All mystics talk about this sort of journeying, sometimes in puzzles and riddles (AKA, "koans"); all of them try to point to the process of the "spiritual paths" they have undertaken, and to document these journeys - often in allusive, rather than analytical, ways.

One reason people resonate with this stuff - especially now, I think - is because there is very little of it around these days.  There is more media than ever before - but very little of it has to do with the spiritual, inward life - and very little of it offers much of value that can help with explaining human experience, and how we understand the world and ourselves in it.  But it's always been a deep interest, I think; people want to know what being alive is for, and how human beings are made.  Especially, I think, they want to know that they themselves are on a path that goes someplace real and true - someplace people have looked for many times before, and will continually and always be looking for.

In A.A. we have stories, and aphorisms, and koans, and mysteries, all in the service of teaching and learning - and we have practices (prayer, meditation, self-examination, confession) taken directly from the religions of the world.    And I have noticed lately that people really resonate with mystical and experiential stuff these days.  A couple of days ago, on a blog post that asked the question "Is religious experience like falling in love?," I talked about William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience) and pointed to St. John of the Cross' "Stanzas of the Soul":
On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings—oh, happy chance!—
I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised—oh, happy chance!—
In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest.

In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.

This light guided me More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me— A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me, Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover, Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast, Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him, And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck And caused all my senses to be suspended.

I remained, lost in oblivion; My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

The response?  "Awesome, awesome."

On another occasion, talking about some faith topic - and again with a SBNR type - I quoted from Meister Eckhart :
God is nameless, for no man can either say or understand aught about Him. If I say, God is good, it is not true; nay more; I am good, God is not good. I may even say, I am better than God; for whatever is good, may become better, and whatever may become better, may become best. Now God is not good, for He cannot become better. And if He cannot become better, He cannot become best, for these three things, good, better, and best, are far from God, since He is above all. If I also say, God is wise, it is not true; I am wiser than He. If I also say, God is a Being, it is not true; He is transcendent Being and superessential Nothingness. Concerning this St Augustine says: the best thing that man can say about God is to be able to be silent about Him, from the wisdom of his inner judgement. Therefore be silent and prate not about God, for whenever thou dost prate about God, thou liest, and committest sin. If thou wilt be without sin, prate not about God. Thou canst understand nought about God, for He is above all understanding. A master saith: If I had a God whom I could understand, I would never hold Him to be God.

Again, this was received with enthusiasm and in fact delight.  Truth, wrapped in an entirely enchanting package.

I think the reason this stuff seems "awesome" to people today is because they are not used to hearing things that touch on subjective human experience, truth, and the spiritual life; everything today is about objective "data."  So all that other stuff sounds mysterious and beautiful to them - which, of course, it is.  And it affirms them in their longings to be more than just data points that can be objectively measured.

"The Tunnel" is a wonderful Zen story about love, experience, and the long road to redemption - something that would fit very well into the Christian worldview, in fact: 
Zenkai, the son of a samurai, journeyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official's wife and was discovered. In self-defence, he slew the official. Then he ran away with the wife.

Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that Zenkai grew disgusted. Finally, leaving her, he journeyed far away to the province of Buzen, where he became a wandering mendicant.

To atone for his past, Zenkai resolved to accomplish some good deed in his lifetime. Knowing of a dangerous road over a cliff that had caused death and injury to many persons, he resolved to cut a tunnel through the mountain there.

Begging food in the daytime, Zenkai worked at night digging his tunnel. When thirty years had gone by, the tunnel was 2,280 feet long, 20 feet high, and 30 feet wide.

Two years before the work was completed, the son of the official he had slain, who was a skillful swordsman, found Zenkai out and came to kill him in revenge.

"I will give you my life willingly," said Zenkai. "Only let me finish this work. On the day it is completed, then you may kill me."

So the son awaited the day. Several months passed and Zenkai kept digging. The son grew tired of doing nothing and began to help with the digging. After he had helped for more than a year, he came to admire Zenkai's strong will and character.

At last the tunnel was completed and the people could use it and travel safely.

"Now cut off my head," said Zenkai. "My work is done."

"How can I cut off my own teacher's head?" asked the younger man with tears in his eyes.

The mystical traditions all contain such ideas, aphorisms, poems, stories, events, etc.   And they have always enchanted me; people want to know, I think, that there is something splendid and fascinating and mysterious about living - and they want to hear what that consists of.  They want to hear about what human experience is like when looked at from this angle - and they want very much to know about the parts of themselves that are going unused.

I also came to think that articulating the Anglo-Catholic worldview - leaving out the fact that it's both Anglican and Catholic - might be a really interesting thought process.    I believe it to be a philosophy that stands perfectly well on its own, even if it does come to us via Revelation; why not just use the Christian axioms for a base, without necessarily noting that that's where you're getting them?

Work it through systematically - and describe it as one philosophy of living among others; why not?  Give people the guts of the thing - and you have the added benefit of being able to drop all the accumulated baggage.   Just use the ideas.  I think I'd have been interested in something like that, as an SBNR; I just didn't know such a thing existed in those days.

Well, thinking all this through has been an interesting process, I have to say - and it's exactly the same kind of "process" I've been talking about here, in fact:  looking back and describing what I've found along the way.  There's more to this, too, having to do with "recovery"; probably I'll put up a post about that at some point as well.

So, many thanks to my friend for asking the question.....


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Candlemas Procession (February 2): Lumen ad Revelationem Gentium

It's customary to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation (AKA Candlemas. celebrated on February 2) with a Procession just before the start of the Eucharist itself.   Here is the antiphon Lumen ad revelationem gentium, one of three antiphons sung during that Procession; its name (in English, "A light to enlighten the Gentiles") is taken from a line in the Nunc Dimittis.  The Nunc is the Compline Canticle, and is also known as "The Song of Simeon"; its text is taken, verbatim, from Luke 2: 29-32.

The text of the chant itself is, in fact, the complete Nunc Dimittis; the Lumen refrain is sung between each verse: 

Here's the chant score:

Luke 2 tells the story of "The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple" beginning at verse 22:  
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;  (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)  And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.  And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.  And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,   Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Those last four lines, in italics, make up the Nunc Dimittis; this is the event celebrated in the Canticle itself (but of course has wider implications), and on the Feast of the Presentation, AKA Candlemas.

Here is a list of all the chant propers for the Candlemas Procession; the audio files (click the linked names below to hear them) were recorded at the Sao Paolo Benedictine Monastery.

In Presentatione Domini
Ad processionem

Antiphona: Is. 35, 4.5 Ecce Dominus noster (20.4s - 322 kb) score
Procedamus in pace (8.3s - 133 kb) score
Antiphona: Lumen ad revelationem gentium (1m27.3s - 1367 kb) score
Antiphona: Adorna thalamum (2m30.6s - 2367 kb) score

The following article about the Candlemas Procession comes from this terrific Candlemas page at Full Homely Divinity.
The Blessing of Candles and Procession

The liturgical event that gives this Feast its popular name is the blessing and distribution of candles, usually followed by a procession. The candles themselves have often had symbolic meaning ascribed to them. There are various ceremonies in the course of the church year in which a candle is seen as a symbol of Christ himself. The pure wax is understood to represent his human body, while the flaming wick represents his divinity. Candles blessed on this day are taken home, like palms, and kept for use at critical moments in the coming year. They may be lit in times of danger, such as severe storms and floods. Someone facing a personal crisis or difficult decision might light the Candlemas candle while praying and thinking through his situation. It is customary to light them when a priest ministers at a sick-bed, especially when death is imminent. records this old poem that describes the use of these candles.

This done, each man his candle lights,
Where chiefest seemeth he,
Whose taper greatest may be seen;
And fortunate to be,
Whose candle burneth clear and bright:
A wondrous force and might
Both in these candles lie, which if
At any time they light,
They sure believe that neither storm
Nor tempest cloth abide,
Nor thunder in the skies be heard,
Nor any devil's spide,
Nor fearful sprites that walk by night,
Nor hurts of frost or hail.

It is most appropriate that the blessing and procession begin somewhere away from the High Altar, which should be the destination, but not the starting point. Where weather and other circumstances permit, the blessing and procession might begin outside of the church, in front of the main entrance. A room apart from the church itself is a suitable alternative. It would also be fitting for the blessing and distribution to take place at the Christmas crèche, especially if that is not in the chancel. Wherever the blessing of the candles takes place, the figures of the Holy Family should be carried in the procession to the High Altar, or to a suitable place prepared for them near the High Altar.

It should be noted here that there are competing traditions regarding Christmas decorations. One tradition is that they are removed from the church and homes on Twelfth Night and the burning of the greens takes place that night. Another tradition allows for some or all of the decorations to remain until Candlemas (see below). In either case, the crèche remains in the church and homes until the Eucharist of Candlemas, following which it is dismantled and all remaining Christmas decorations are also removed.

In some churches, it is customary to bless the entire supply of candles to be used liturgically in the coming year, as well as to bless candles for the faithful to carry in procession and then take to their homes. Traditionally, this blessing takes place before the celebration of the Eucharist on the morning of the Feast. However, with its theme of light, it might also be celebrated on the Eve, as prelude to Evensong or an evening Mass.

Celebrant:  Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
People:      Thanks be to God.

The following five prayers are derived from the traditional rite for blessing candles. The rite may be abbreviated by omitting two or three of the first four prayers. The fifth prayer should always be included.
Celebrant:  The Lord be with you.
People:       And also with you.
Celebrant:  Let us pray.

Holy Lord, almighty and everlasting God: You created all things out of nothing and, by the labor of your creatures the bees, we have wax for the making of these candles; we thank you that you heard the prayer of your righteous and devout servant Simeon and we now humbly pray you, through the invocation of your holy Name and through the intercession of blessed Mary ever-virgin and all the saints, to bless and sanctify these candles for the use of your faithful people, and for the health and preservation of their bodies and souls on land and sea and in the air. From your holy heaven and the throne of your glory, hear, O Lord, the voices of your people who desire to carry these candles reverently in their hands and to praise you with song; have mercy on all who call upon you, and whom you have redeemed with the precious Blood of your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God: On this day your only-begotten Son was presented in the Temple to be received into the arms of blessed Simeon; we humbly pray you to bless, hallow, and kindle with the light of your heavenly benediction these candles which your servants desire to receive and to carry, lighted in honor of your holy Name. By offering them to you, our Lord and God, may we be inflamed with the fire of your love, and made worthy to be presented in the heavenly temple of your glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one, now and for ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, the true Light who enlightens every one who comes into this world: Pour your blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them with your grace. As they burn with visible fire and dispel the darkness of night, so may our hearts, kindled by the invisible fire of your Holy Spirit, be free from the blindness of sin. Grant that with purified minds we may be able to discern that which is pleasing to you and profitable to our salvation. And, when the dark perils of this life are past, let us be worthy to attain a place in the unfailing light of your eternal Kingdom, where with your eternal Father and the same Spirit, you live and reign in perfect Trinity, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, who by your servant Moses commanded the purest oil to be prepared for the lamps that burned in the Temple: pour the grace of your blessing upon these candles that, as they shed their outward light abroad, so by your goodness the inward light of the Holy Spirit may never be lacking in our souls; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, you appeared among humankind in the substance of our mortal flesh and, as on this day, you were presented in the Temple; and there the venerable Simeon, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, recognized you, took you into his arms, and blessed you: Grant that, by your mercy, we may be enlightened and taught by the same Holy Spirit and may truly acknowledge you and faithfully love you; who with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As the candles are distributed and lighted, the Song of Simeon is sung in the following manner:
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.
Lord, you now have set your servant free,
to go in peace as you have promised.
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
whom you have prepared for all the world to see.
A light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.

Hymns and psalms appropriate to the Feast are sung as the procession moves forward. The following antiphon and psalm is appropriate as the procession approaches the Altar.
We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O Lord, in the midst of your temple.
Psalm 48:1-2, 10-13
As the figures of the Holy Family are placed on the Altar or other place prepared for them, this or another appropriate collect may be said:
O God, you have made this day holy by the presentation of your Son in the Temple, and by the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mercifully grant that we, who delight in her humble readiness to be the birth-giver of the Only-begotten, may rejoice for ever in our adoption as his sisters and brothers; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

If the Eucharist is to follow, it begins immediately with the 
Gloria in excelsis. If Evensong is to follow, it begins with the Phos hilaron. The people continue to hold lighted candles until the end of the Collect of the Day at the Eucharist, and relight them for the reading of the Gospel. At Evensong, they may extinguish their candles at the conclusion of the Phos hilaron.

I went to last year's Candlemas celebration at St. Mary's, and was transported by the beauty of the Procession in particular.; I'd been to the service before but they hadn't had the procession previously, as far as I can recall.  I can't find the leaflet now, if I kept it, and can't remember exactly what music was used; will keep looking for those and I'll come back and post what I find, if I do.  It was enchanting, and I highly recommend it to all parishes.  It's a beautiful way to spend a cold winter night, with light all around.

FHD has Candlemas recipes for you, too!  When you get home from the service, you can make some

Candlemas Crêpes

In France, Candlemas, La Chandeleur, is celebrated with crêpes. According to tradition, Pope Gelasius I, whose sacramentary is one of the first to list this Feast, is credited with having fed pilgrims with crêpes. People looking for more ancient roots to the custom claim that the round crêpe resembles the sun whose return is celebrated on the pagan festivals often celebrated at the same time of year. As the Church has often incorporated homely folk customs into her observances, we see no conflict here, for Christ is indeed the Sun of Righteousness. In fact, pancakes serve a very useful function at this time of year, especially when Lent begins soon after Candlemas, forcrêpes and other sorts of pancakes are a good way of using up eggs and butter and other rich foods that are given up in Lent. Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) is another day when crêpes are eaten--with various rich fillings. (We are particularly happy to know this tradition because our preference is to celebrate a New Orleans style Mardi Gras, with Cajun food. If we have our crêpes on Candlemas, we can have the best of all worlds!

The French have added to the custom of eating  crêpes on la Chandeleur a bit of ritual related to their making. When it is time to turn the crêpe, the cook is supposed to hold a coin in one hand, make a wish, and flip the crêpe in its pan with the other. Everyone is invited to attempt this operation and those who are successful may expect good luck in the coming year. If your  crêpe pan is sticky, like ours, this may not work so well--but much fun will be had in the attempt, anyway.

Crêpes are a versatile food and may be eaten as a main course or as dessert. Our favorite dessert crêpes for Candlemas are filled with strawberries and whipped cream. The strawberry is known as the "Fruitful Virgin" and is regarded as sacred to Mary.

A Recipe for Dessert Crêpes

The batter can be used immediately, or refrigerated for up to three days for use as needed.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

Place the ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth. Or, mix in a bowl with a wire whisk or mixer, first combining flour and eggs, then adding liquids gradually. Beat until smooth; add other ingredients. Pour a thin layer of batter on a hot iron griddle or crêpe pan, tipping the pan to spread the batter evenly. When the surface of the crêpe is covered with small bubbles, turn the crêpe with a spatula or by flipping it and cook briefly until done.  This will make about 16 crêpes. Crêpes will keep up to a month in the freezer or a week in the refrigerator.

The strawberry filling is simplicity itself. Simply slice the strawberries and sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. When the crêpes are ready, fill them with strawberries, add some whipped cream, and roll. If fresh strawberries are not available, and if you forgot to buy and freeze some when they were in season, strawberry jam makes a very satisfactory substitute.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Heard today at Divine Service online: "They cast their nets in Galilee"

They sang a fantastic hymn (#661 in the 1982 Hymnal) as the Sequence today at St. Thomas:  "They cast their nets in Galilee."  It's one I'd never heard before (probably the Marketing people discourage its use); the tune is "Georgetown," and the words are by William Alexander Percy:
They cast their nets in Galilee
Just off the hills of brown
Such happy simple fisherfolk
Before the Lord came down

Contented peaceful fishermen
Before they ever knew
The peace of God That fill'd their hearts
Brimful and broke them too.

Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,
Homeless, in Patmos died.
Peter, who hauled the teeming net,
Head-down was crucified.

The peace of God, it is no peace,
But strife closed in the sod,
Yet, brothers, pray for but one thing -
The marvelous peace of God.

No audio or video of this hymn online, unfortunately - not even of the tune; it's still under copyright, as are the words above.

That hymn, of course, matches up with the Gospel reading that followed:
Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
"Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned."
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

The mass - the Missa Rigensis ("the Riga Mass") by Uģis Prauliņš - is one I've never heard before.  Here's the Kyrie:

Finally, in an amazing instance of cognitive-dissonance hymnody (considering "They cast their nets in Galilee" above), they sang "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" for the last hymn.   Hymn tune by CHH Parry ("Repton"); text by the Quaker John Greenleaf Whittier:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.


Here's that one, sung by the Choir of King's College Cambridge:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Falling in love with God

“We Anglicans are not given to writing great theology. There are notable exceptions, but they are difficult to remember; but when Anglicanism is at its best its liturgy, its poetry, its music and its life can create a world of wonder in which it is very easy to fall in love with God. We are much more adept at the left hand than at the right.”
- Urban T. Holmes, What Is Anglicanism? 

"Bible-Mindedness and Episcopalians"

Caelius has some really great things to say here.  I'm going to try to convince him to get this posted at one of the major Episcopal Church media outlets - but meantime, will you read it and link to it, if you read my blog?  It's very important.

If TEC can't make faith about "faith in daily life," it's all over, folks.  It takes some work and practice to be able to get grooved in and to articulate some of this stuff - but Caelius has helpfully offered some ideas for practices that people can engage in meanwhile; that should help a lot.

Here's the crucial stuff:
 Why Episcopalians Should Read and Discuss the Bible More

1. Your children have no idea what you believe.

Children, by necessity, have living memories similar in magnitude to one liturgical cycle. And chances are, they're hearing the readings only on Sunday. In the same way you discuss confidently what your children are learning in school, you need to be able to discuss confidently what they are learning in Sunday School and what is being said in church. My father discussed the sermon with me every Sunday when I was growing up. A solid grounding in the Bible (and how living, breathing Episcopalians read it) will give children a foundation for committing to Christ and practicing Christianity in the future and resist the attractions of more authoritarian approaches to following Christ. And if they don't come to believe, they will have a new appreciation for history, culture, and literary analysis.

2. We need a credible word spoken into our lives

In Paul Zahl's Grace in Practice , he writes about a ritual he suggests for every married couple. The first thing they should do in the morning, before they listen to the radio, check their e-mail etc. is: (1) read a short portion from the Bible together; (2) exchange prayer requests with one another; and (3) pray spontaneously. How very Evangelical. Anglo-Catholics may prefer an abbreviated Morning Prayer.

The reading of Scripture first thing in the morning is the important part. Zahl talks about the importance of a word being spoken into the marriage outside of it. Human communication inevitably is a place of struggle, as our incurvatus in se selves seek to be known and heard more than to know and listen. And indeed, the Bible (as long as the passage is from the Lectionary or chosen by a good random number generator with a key (there are 31,102 verses in the King James Version…) is ideally such a word. All the other words in our lives have an uncertain agenda. The ones we speak are ultimately self-promoting, and so also are the ones we hear from those like ourselves. We believe that the source of Scripture has an agenda that is to our benefit and speaks credibly, even if we do not hear Scripture credibly. Scripture is the foreign word we need to hear.

3. We need to discuss what he have in common beyond the institution

The fastest-growing churches are the ones to which people want to belong. That point may sound trivial, but it's not. The fastest-growing churches are the ones that find people who bring together those who belong together. One parish to which I belonged realized that there were a whole group of people interested in political Progressivism and liturgical worship. People drove there from fifty miles away. Their Christian Education hour was typically focused on politics, social ills, and culture. The most Bible was discussed might have been in the 20s and 30s group, which was mostly composed of Evangelicals who wanted to be Progressives and/or had been alienated by Evangelicalism.

If we want to create vital churches that are genuinely inclusive, we need to find affinity groups beyond politics, race, and class. And if we are Christians, the affinity group we need to seek is those who love and follow Jesus Christ. And the Holy Scriptures ultimately point to him.

Too many times when I am with church people, I find myself discussing politics, either that of the civil authorities or that of the Church (at the parochial through international levels). And when I bring the Bible into these discussions, I often hear, "I disagree with that." I don't hear, "I do not interpret that verse, passage, entire book in that way and here's why." So we devolve into the mere exchange of opinions and very little insight into Jesus.

I think Episcopal churches would be stronger (growth is another issue) if we could discuss the Bible with another in a way the demonstrated mutual engagement with the text. The Bible and the Sacraments are the most obvious foci of our unity, and they are the healthiest ones to discuss as well. Grounding ourselves in Scripture will make it easier to have conversations about the difficult institutional issues we often face.

4. We need to be able to talk with Barna's "Bible-minded" Christians as fellow disciples, not as the Other

This past Sunday, I was at an ecumenical service. The hosting pastor said on a couple occasions that he thanked us, "that we thought it not robbery" to attend. I guessed that it was a Biblical allusion, but I had no idea the reference. Google told me that it is the King James rendering of the phrase from the kenotic hymn of Philippians 2, "who being in the form of God, did not think equality with God something to be snatched at." (I admit that my memory of rendering this verse comes from translating it from the Vulgate.) I am still not sure how I feel about this allusion, but I recognize it as an incisive comment on ecumenism. To participate in a service like that does require that we humble ourselves. In the future, I will have something to discuss with the pastor in the future that does not dwell on the competition for souls or service opportunities that otherwise engages the visibly disunited Body of Christ.

Friday, January 24, 2014

“Be ye hearers of the Word, and not doers only.”

Here's an absolutely brilliant post at That Blessed Dependancy; thank goodness somebody is finally talking about this.  I have just about come to the end of my rope with "mission," and the everlasting busy, busy, busyness we're supposed to up to all the time.

In fact, I've been seriously considering - again - the ICCC as an alternative, just because I sometimes feel like I have nothing at all in common with Episcopalians - but at last somebody seems to understand.   It's not going to be easy to convince the church on this matter, I'm afraid; people really don't know they're doing this, or even what's meant by the criticism of "busyness-as-avoidance."   (Take it from an expert in this area.)  My bolding, in the excerpts below.

At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland carried out a unique task. After the Queen took the solemn oath of her office and before the sacred rites of anointing and crowning began within the celebration of the Communion Service, the senior cleric of the Scottish Church presented the Queen with a copy of the Holy Bible. As he did, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to her these words: “Our gracious Queen, to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God as the Rule of the whole life and government of Christian Princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.” The Moderator himself then added, “Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.”


That declaration of the Bible’s supreme value was made at the summit of earthly grandeur (if no longer—in a democratic, post-colonial age—worldly power). But the truth of it is proved in circumstances far removed in setting and dignity. The truth of it is seen in the devotion of Chinese Christians in the underground church, who risk life and limb to produce hand-written copies of the Bible for their countrymen. The truth of it is seen in the unending efforts of those who seek to translate the Scriptures into the most remote and obscure languages on earth, driven by the desire and conviction that every person should have the chance to read “the lively oracles of God” in the tongue of his or her birth.

And the true value of the Bible can be seen even in the privileged churches of North America. The transformation that can take place when a congregation of cradle Episcopalians opens and begins to read “the most valuable thing that this world affords” is extraordinary. New efforts for church growth and congregational development in mainline churches highlight Scripture reading and study as among the most valuable outreach—and in-reach—tools available to us. Deep-set and long-held fears of fundamentalism and literalism are, in many places, melting away in the light of a growing awareness that the only way to combat bad Bible reading is to promote and sustain good Bible reading. Lives are changed as folks who formerly knew the Scriptures only through Sunday worship begin daily to dig deeper into “wisdom…the royal Law…[and] the lively Oracles of God.”

But there’s a problem. Whether we know it or not (and most of us do not), we Episcopalians are actually devoted disciples of the Epistle of St James: we want to be doers of the word, and not hearers only. As Bible studies proliferate and individual Christians begin to explore the amazing library of the Scriptures, the inevitable questions of “practical application” begin to grow. Time and again, folks who have dipped only the tip of their toe into the deep pool of the Bible immediately begin to task, “Well, how do we do this? What does this look like in the real world? How do I apply this to my life?”

Those are not bad questions. Indeed, those are natural and necessary questions whenever we grapple with Scripture’s awesome scope and overwhelming declaration of the power and purposes of God. The Bible demands a response. It impels us to action.

But the problem is that those practical questions, when posed in the merest infancy of a person’s Bible reading life, rest on a faulty foundation. For so many of us, action is our natural state. We are bodies in motion. We want to be doing something. And we define ourselves and determine our worth on the basis of what we do.
As I pointed out last year at Men on Fire—a monthly gathering for Biblical preaching and fellowship here at Christ Church Greenwich—the perennial cocktail party question “So what do you do?” says an awful lot about the way we regard one another and ourselves. Activity—work—doing: these things give us the measure of a man or a woman. And the way others respond to our description of what we do gives us a clue as to how we should evaluate ourselves.

So for people like that—for people like us—opening the Bible can cause enormous anxiety. Just re-read the Sermon on the Mount, or Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. For people who measure their worth by their doing, how can we read words such as those and not immediately see how far below them we fall each and every day? Scripture—especially a first encounter with Scripture—convicts us. Matthew 5-7 makes me squirm. I Corinthians 13 shows up the selfishness and inadequacy of most of what I call “love.” And my standard response to that feeling is to try to find a way out of it as fast as possible.

That dynamic is, I believe, the driving force behind the desire to turn immediately from “hearing the word” to “doing the word.” The early inclination to find a way to apply the words of Scripture to my life is a bit like the immediate recoil of a child who has touched a hot stove. Seared by hearing or reading the sacred words, we seek a soothing balm through our doing. And so “applying the text” actually becomes a way of silencing the text. If I can do something, I can quiet my feelings of conviction and inadequacy. If I can do something, then the Bible can be made to fit within the ordinary, expected patterns of my existence. If I can just do something, I’ll be able to check “Bible reading” off my list, and go on in confidence and comfort to my next “to do.”


We read the Bible because through it God reveals himself. The Holy Bible is an announcement. It is God’s self-disclosure. The Scriptures are an unveiling of the power and purposes of the Almighty. That is what makes the Bible “the most valuable thing this world affords”: it points to and speaks to and makes manifest things beyond the scope and imagining of this world. That is what makes the Scriptures “the lively oracles of God”: not because they represent God’s anthropocentric (us-centered) pleading to an unheeding humanity, but because they shine forth with the brilliance of God’s theocentric (God-centered) announcement to an unworthy world. The true value of the Bible is not in the words printed on its pages but in the Word Incarnate printed in the shining letters of Scripture’s great story.

All of which is why I believe that, in our time and place, the great Jacobean injunction (James 1:22) must be reversed: we must become “hearers of the word, and not doers only.” What we—both as individuals, and as the Church gathered—desperately need is not a superficial, appropriating glance at the surface of Scripture’s deep waters. What we need is not to look for the reflection of our own expectations and patterns shimmering on the surface of the Bible’s waves, struggling and striving to build our world and our lives on that ever-changing interpretive image.

That's actually most of the post, which I didn't mean to do - but go read the rest. 

T.S. Eliot, BTW, had something similar to say:
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

William Mathias: "As truly as God is our Father"

Sung by the Choir of St. Paul's, London.  The text comes from the writings of Julian of Norwich (c. 1342-1416):
As truly as God is our Father, so just as truly is he our Mother.
In our Father, God Almighty, we have our being;
In our merciful Mother we are remade and restored.
Our fragmented lives are knit together.
And by giving and yielding ourselves, through grace,
To the Holy Spirit we are made whole.
It is I, the strength and goodness of Fatherhood.
It is I, the wisdom of Motherhood.
It is I, the light and grace of holy love.
It is I, the Trinity.
I am the sovereign goodness in all things.
It is I who teach you to love.
It is I who teach you to desire.
It is I who am the reward of all true desiring.
All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. Amen.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On the Feast of S. Vincent, M. (Jan. 22)

From Hymn melodies for the whole year, from the Sarum service-books:
 On the Feast of S. Vincent, M. (Jan. 22) :
L. & 2nd Ev. Christi miles gloriosus ... ... ... 45

Follow along with the office here, at Breviary Offices, from Lauds to Compline Inclusive (Society of St. Margaret, Boston, 1885).     I'll link-in via iFrame at the bottom of the post too.

The hymn for today's Feast of St. Vincent Martyr (also known as Saint Vincent of Saragossa) is sung to the same tune as the hymns for "the Feast of the Dedication of a Church," Urbs beata Hierusalem and Angulare fundamentumThis is interesting, because this melody would thus call to mind concepts like "foundations" and "cornerstones"; its use here is surely no accident.

That's this melody:

Oremus hymnal online has a midi of this plainsong at its listing for Urbs Beata Hierusalem.  And Guilliame Dufay used the plainchant melody in his alternatum setting of the hymn:

Here's a set of English words, from Lauda Syon:
GLORIOUS was the Christian warrior
Deacon Vincent, as with tread
Firm and free, the pile ascending
To that fiery doom he sped;
Where the salt shower fiercely crackling
O'er his tortured flesh was spread;

While the furnace flamed around him,
Crimsoned with his gushing blood;
Yet he still endured intrepid
Faithful ever to his Lord;
And with eyes to Heaven uplifted
Christ upon His Throne adored!

Glory be to God and Honour
In the highest, as is meet;
To The Son as to The Father,
And The Eternal Paraclete;
Whose is boundless Praise and Power
Throughout ages infinite! Amen.

This may be the original Latin (hard to find anywhere!):
Christi miles gloriosus 
levita Vincentius 
ut tribunal, sponte rogum 
conscendit intrepidus
cujus salis crepitantis 
per corpus minutiæ 

Sparsim ibant atque prunæ 
vernabantur sanguine
inter hæc manet immotas 
ille Dei famulus
orans Christum in sublime 
erectis luminibus 

Gloria et honor Deo
Usquequo Altissimo
Una Patri Filioque 
inclito Paraclito 
cui laus est et potestas 
Per æterna secula. Amen.

It's very interesting to me that the Sarum calendar celebrated an early Iberian martyr!  It may simply be the facts that he was so early (martyred under Diocletian), and a martyr, and a deacon - and that, according to his legend, and like Sts. Peter and Paul, he converted his own jailer.

It could be that he was venerated everywhere in the early church - perhaps as a result of Prudentius' poem about him.  It could be on account of his inclusion in the Litany of the Saints.  It could be because his relics were housed at Castres, apparently an important stop on the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

It could be because as this site notes:
Hard by the Holy Well, there is a major relic of St. Vincent of Saragossa in the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
(More at Our Lady's Mirror, Spring 1946.)

I'm still reading about him to try to understand why he has his own Sarum "Proper of Saints" feast day; that puts him right up there with Mary, Peter, Paul, and the other major saints.  It's a huge honor.

This is from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, via New Advent:
St. Vincent
Deacon of Saragossa, and martyr under Diocletian, 304; mentioned in the Roman Martyrology, 22 Jan., with St. Anastasius the Persian, honoured by the Greeks, 11 Nov. This most renowned martyr of Spain is represented in the dalmatic of a deacon, and has as emblems a cross, a raven, a grate, or a fire-pile. He is honoured as patron in Valencia, Saragossa, Portugal etc., is invoked by vintners, brickmakers, and sailors, and is in the Litany of the Saints. His Acts were read in the churches of Africa at the end of the fourth century, as St. Augustine testifies in Sermon 275. The present Acts (Acta SS., III Jan., 6) date from the eighth or ninth century, and were compiled from tradition. Anal. Boll., I, 259, gives another life. All agree in substance with the metric life by Prudentius (P.L., LX, 378). He was born at Saragossa; his father was Eutricius (Euthicius), and his mother, Enola, a native of Osca. Under the direction of Valerius, Bishop of Sargossa, Vincent made great progress in his studies. He was ordained deacon and commissioned to do the preaching in the diocese, the bishop having an impediment of speech. By order of the Governor Dacian he and his bishop were dragged in chains to Valencia and kept in prison for a long time. Then Valerius was banished, but Vincent was subjected to many cruel torments, the rack, the gridiron, and scourgings. He was again imprisoned, in a cell strewn with potsherds. He was next placed in a soft and luxurious bed, to shake his constancy, but here he expired.

His body was thrown to be devoured by vultures, but it was defended by a raven. Dacian had the body cast into the sea, but it came to shore and was buried by a pious widow. After peace was restored to the Church, a chapel was built over the remains outside the walls of Valencia. In 1175 the relics were brought to Lisbon; others claim that they came to Castres in 864. Cremona, Bari, and other cities claim to have relics. Childeric I brought the sole and dalmatic to Paris in 542, and built a church in honour of St. Vincent, later called St-Germain-des-Prés. Regimont, near Bezières, had a church of the saint as early as 455. Rome had three churches dedicated to St. Vincent; one near St. Peter's, another in Trastevere, and the one built by Honorius I (625-38) and renewed by Leo III in 796. A pilaster found in the basilica of Salona in Dalmatia shows an inscription of the fifth or sixth century in honour of the saint (Rom. Quartalschrift, 1907, Arch. 135).

Here's some of what Wikipedia says about him:
Saint Vincent of Saragossa, also known as Vincent Martyr, Vincent of Huesca or Vincent the Deacon, is the patron saint of Lisbon and Valencia. His feast day is 22 January in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion and 11 November in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. He was born at Huesca and martyred under the Emperor Diocletian around the year 304.

He was born at Huesca but lived in Saragossa.
Vincent served as the deacon of Valerius of Saragossa, the city's bishop. Imprisoned in Valencia for his faith, and tortured on a gridiron — a story perhaps adapted from the martyrdom of another son of Huesca, Saint Lawrence— Vincent, like many early martyrs in the early hagiographic literature, succeeded in converting his jailer. Though he was finally offered release if he would consign Scripture to the fire, Vincent refused.

The earliest account of Vincent's martyrdom is in a carmen (lyric poem) written by the poet Prudentius, who wrote a series of lyric poems, Peristephanon ("Crowns of Martyrdom"), on Hispanic and Roman martyrs. Prudentius describes how Vincent was brought to trial along with his bishop Valerius, and that since Valerius had a speech impediment, Vincent spoke for both, but that his outspoken featureless manner so angered the governor that Vincent was tortured and martyred, though his aged bishop was only exiled.

According to legend, after being martyred, ravens protected St. Vincent's body from being devoured by vultures, until his followers could recover the body. His body was taken to what is now known as Cape St. Vincent; a shrine was erected over his grave, which continued to be guarded by flocks of ravens. In the time of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula, the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi noted this constant guard by ravens, for which the place was named by him كنيسة الغراب "Kanīsah al-Ghurāb" (Church of the Raven). King Afonso I of Portugal (1139–1185) had the body of the saint exhumed in 1173 and brought it by ship to the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora in Lisbon. This transfer of the relics is depicted on the coat of arms of Lisbon.[1]

Legacy and veneration

St. Vincent of Saragossa
(Menologion of Basil II,
10th century)
Three elaborated hagiographies, all based ultimately on a lost 5th-century Passion, circulated in the Middle Ages

Though Vincent's tomb in Valencia became the earliest center of his cult, he was also honoured at his birthplace and his reputation spread from Saragossa. The city of Oviedo in Asturias grew about the church dedicated to Vincent. Beyond the Pyrenees, he was venerated first in the vicinity of Béziers, and at Narbonne. Castres became an important stop on the international pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela when the relics of Vincent were transferred to its new abbey-church dedicated to Saint Benedict from Saragossa in 863, under the patronage of Salomon, count of Cerdanya.

Reliquary containing the leg bone of
St. Vincent, located in the
Treasury of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
A church was built in honour of Vincent, by the Catholic bishops of Visigothic Iberia, when they succeeded in converting King Reccared and his nobles to Trinitarian Christianity. When the Moors came in 711, the church was razed, and its materials incorporated in the Mezquita, the "Great Mosque" of Cordova.

The Cape Verde island of São Vicente, a former Portuguese colony, was named in his honour.

The island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, now a part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was named by Christopher Columbus after Vincent of Saragossa, as the island was discovered by Europeans on 22 January, St. Vincent's feast day.

The 15th-century Portuguese artist Nuno Gonçalves depicted him in his Saint Vincent Panels. A small fresco cycle of stories of St. Vincent is in the apse of the Basilica di San Vincenzo near Cantù, in northern Italy.

Vincent is also the patron of vintners and vinegar-makers.

In Valencia, Spain, there is a long road called Calle San Vicente Mártir, or in English, Saint Vincent the Martyr Street named after the aforementioned saint.

There is also the small town of São Vicente on the Portuguese island of Madeira named after this saint.

Saint Vincent is the patron of the Order of the Deacons of the Catholic Diocese of Bergamo (Italy).

Here's the peek-in for this feast day to the SSM Breviary:

This is a painting of San Vicente de Zaragoza, by an anonymous XVIth century artist: