Advent Poems: Christina Rossetti’s “Advent Sunday” (Behold the Bridegroom Cometh) – read by Malcolm Guite

November 29, 2015

One of the Advent Series I am most excited about is Anglican priest and poet Malcolm Guite’s series for Advent 2015.  He’ll be reading an Advent poem from his Advent poetry anthology “Waiting on the Word” each day.

Today, for Advent Sunday, his reading is Christina Rossetti’s poem “Advent Sunday” (Behold the Bridegroom Cometh)

Here’s the text of the poem, which I found here.

Advent Sunday

Source: The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, with a Memoir and Notes by William Michael Rossetti (1904), page 156

BEHOLD, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out
With lighted lamps and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.

It may be at the midnight, black as pitch,
Earth shall cast up her poor, cast up her rich.

It may be at the crowing of the cock
Earth shall upheave her depth, uproot her rock.

For lo, the Bridegroom fetcheth home the Bride:
His Hands are Hands she knows, she knows His Side.

Like pure Rebekah at the appointed place,
Veiled, she unveils her face to meet His Face.

Like great Queen Esther in her triumphing,
She triumphs in the Presence of her King.

His Eyes are as a Dove’s, and she’s Dove-eyed;
He knows His lovely mirror, sister, Bride.

He speaks with Dove-voice of exceeding love,
And she with love-voice of an answering Dove.

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go we out
With lamps ablaze and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.

Before 1886.

Each day’s poetry reading is accompanied by a beautiful illustration by Lancia SmithHere’s her image to accompany today’s poem:

2 Behold the Bridegroom cometh 1 - wm

art credit:  Lancia E Smith: Behold the Bridegroom Cometh

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MUST SEE / LISTEN!! – Music for Easter – The Lord is Risen Indeed! (Easter Anthem) William Billings

April 8, 2015

WOW!!!!!   Thanks to Bruce Benedict of Cardiphonia who tweeted about this.  What a stunning Easter anthem and video.  I don’t believe I’ve ever before heard this anthem by William Billings, but even before the video finished playing, I was looking online for a version to purchase.  Here is a link to iTunes where this version of Billings’ Easter Anthem may be purchased.

This is just a fantastic mix of music and art (Russian Orthodox iconography).

Here’s what the creator of the YouTube video writes:

I received many nice responses from my fusion project involving an 18th century American hymn and Orthodox icons, so, here is a second effort. William Billings was the last prominent composer to work prior to the destruction of American sacred music during the Second Great Awakening. The harmonics, text, and a capella setting are all familiar to an Orthodox Christian. There are those doing their best to preserve this heritage. I give them my regards, wish them well, and extend to them my hope that they succeed in passing on the torch to a new generation.

This piece is sung by His Majesty’s Clerkes under the direction of Paul Hillier.

***

Here is the text of the anthem via the ChoralWiki site:

Text arranged from Edward Young’s “The Complaint”, or “Night Thoughts”, “Night Four”, 1741-44

English.png English text

The Lord is ris’n indeed,
Hallelujah.
Now is Christ risen from the dead,
and become the first fruits of them that slept.
Hallelujah.
And did He rise?
Hear, O ye nations, hear it, O ye dead.
He rose, He burst the bars of death,
He burst the bars of death and triumph’d o’er the grave.
Then I rose,
then first humanity triumphant passed the crystal ports of light,
and seiz’d eternal youth.
Man, all immortal hail, hail,
Heaven, all lavish of strange gifts to man,
Thine’s all the glory, man’s the boundless bliss.

***

There’s more about William Billlings and the Easter anthem here at Hymnary.org

 


Today a grave holds Him…

April 4, 2015

sealedtomb

Today a grave holds him
who holds creation in the palm of his hand.
A stone covers him
who covers with glory the heavens.
Life is asleep and hell trembles,
and Adam is freed from his chains.
Glory to your saving work,
by which you have done all things!
You have given us eternal rest,
Your holy resurrection from the dead.

— a matins hymn for Holy Saturday, from Orthodox Lent, Holy Week and Easter

***

Also, in searching for an image for this post, I came across the full homely divinity site’s page on Holy Saturday, including an ancient 8th c. Holy Saturday hymn by Saint John of Damascus:

Into the dim earth’s lowest parts descending,
And bursting by Thy might the infernal chain
That bound the prisoners, Thou, at three days’ ending,
As Jonah from the whale, hast risen again.

Thou brakest not the seal, Thy surety’s token,
Arising from the tomb Who left’st in birth
The portals of virginity unbroken,
Opening the gates of Heaven to sons of earth.

Thou, Sacrifice ineffable and living,
Didst to the Father by Thyself atone
As God eternal: resurrection giving
To Adam, general parent, by Thine own.

– John of Damascus, 8th Century, translated from Greek by John M. Neale in Hymns of the Eastern Church

art credit


“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

April 4, 2015

originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at Pontifications in April 2005

“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death” – St. Ephrem of Edessa

*

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but He in His turn treated death as a highroad for His own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means He would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying His cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross He summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew Him by means of the body which He had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which He conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of His manhood, His godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless He possessed a body, neither could hell swallow Him up unless He bore our flesh; and so He came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which He received from the Virgin; in it He invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure.

At length He came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed Him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up His cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognise the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed Your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before Him who offered His cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

St Ephrem of Edessa


“Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!” – Henry Vaughan

April 4, 2015

This is a copy of a devotional originally posted by Fr. Al Kimel at Pontifications in 2005

*

LORD, when Thou didst Thyself undress,
Laying by Thy robes of glory,
To make us more, Thou wouldst be less,
And becam’st a woful story.

To put on clouds instead of light,
And clothe the morning-star with dust,
Was a translation of such height
As, but in Thee, was ne’er express’d.

Brave worms and earth! that thus could have
A God enclos’d within your cell,
Your Maker pent up in a grave,
Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!

Ah, my dear Lord! what couldst thou spy
In this impure, rebellious clay,
That made Thee thus resolve to die
For those that kill Thee every day?

O what strange wonders could Thee move
To slight Thy precious blood, and breath?
Sure it was love, my Lord! for love
Is only stronger far than death!

Henry Vaughan


Links for Holy Saturday

April 4, 2015

Holy_Saturday

We’ve not traditionally blogged much on Holy Saturday, but here are some links to past entries and some good sites for those looking for prayers, music and devotionals.

All our Holy Saturday entries

***

Resources & Compilations

Poems for Holy Saturday

NEW: Holy Saturday around the Blogosphere 2015

Holy Saturday around the blogosphere (2014)

Kendall Harmon’s wealth of Holy Saturday entries

Holy Week: Index of Holy Week devotionals, prayers, quotes and resources here at Lent & Beyond

A collection of fantastic Holy Week Devotions from the Pontifications blog from 2004

More Pontifications Lent, Holy Week & Easter Devotionals (from 2005)

***

Quotes & Devotionals

NEW: Henri Nouwen on Holy Saturday “The Day of God’s Solitude”

NEW: “Life lock’d in death, heav’n in a shell!” – Henry Vaughan

Holy Saturday: Death has seized our Lord Jesus Christ; but shall not keep its hold on Life

WA Criswell: He is dead… He is dead… He is dead. Then, then then…

Lent Quotes: St. Cyril of Jerusalem – He vouchsafed salvation

Three Spiritual Classics for Holy Saturday (from the Pontifications blog archives)

A Homily from Saint Ephrem of Syria

***

Music & Poems

Poems for Holy Saturday

Palestrina: Lamentations for Holy Saturday, performed by the Tallis Scholars

Classic CCM for Holy Saturday into Easter: Christian Stephens’ The Descent, and Arise

A Classic CCM Song for Holy Saturday – He Holds the Keys (Steve Green)


Trevin Wax: My Jesus – Dead

April 3, 2015

Trevin Wax has written an amazing poem /meditation for Good Friday.  I’m reproducing the whole entry here.  Thanks Trevin for such profound words. (I’ve also tagged this under Holy Saturday, since it makes a good Holy Saturday reflection as well.)

CarracciAnnibale-The-dead-Christ-c.1582-Stuttgart-Staatsga

Art Credit: Carracci,Annibale The dead Christ c 1582, Stuttgart Staatsga

And Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.”
Saying this, He breathed His last. 
(Luke 23:46)

~~~~~

He is dead: this man from Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the world.

With His dying breaths, He spoke words of forgiveness, finality, and faith.

But now the breathing has ceased, and the lungs that exhaled forgiveness are deflated. My Jesus – dead.

The eyes that looked at the crowds with compassion are closed. My Jesus – dead.

The arms that reached out to the unworthy are lifeless. My Jesus – dead.

The hands that touched the leper are driven through with spikes. My Jesus – dead.

The ears that heard the cries of blind men are deaf. My Jesus – dead.

The lips that that told news of a kingdom are stilled. My Jesus – dead.

The voice that calmed the seas is silent. My Jesus – dead.

The feet that walked on water are stopped. My Jesus – dead.

The heart that bled for sinful humanity no longer beats. My Jesus – dead.

The Bread from heaven, broken on earth.

The Light of the world, in the shadow of death.

The Vine that bears fruit, withered and fallen.

The Gateway to God, now sealed in a tomb.

The Shepherd of souls, struck down by the sheep.

The resurrection and life, a crucified corpse.

My Jesus – dead.

~~~~~

He loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)


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