Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seen and heard today at Divine Service: "Thou Visitest the Earth"

Maurice Greene's beautiful "Thou Visitest the Earth," his composition based on today's  Psalm 65. Here it's sung (exquisitely!) by the Choir of New College, Oxford.  (Listen to more from this great choir here, at their webcast page.)

The Communion Hymn was St. Thomas Aquinas' beautiful Adoro te devote ("Humbly I adore Thee, verity unseen").  The English words of the hymn (#314 in the 1982 Hymnal) are copyright, but here's a version in Latin - sung by "The Cathedral Singers, Richard Proulx (conductor)" - with a metrical English translation below:

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
Quæ sub his figuris vere latitas;
Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit,
Quia te contemplans totum deficit.

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.
Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius;
Nil hoc verbo veritátis verius.

O memoriale mortis Domini!
Panis vivus, vitam præstans homini!
Præsta meæ menti de te vívere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.

Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo sanguine:
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Oro, fiat illud quod tam sitio:
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beátus tuæ gloriæ. Amen

    Prostrate I adore Thee, Deity unseen,
    Who Thy glory hidest 'neath these shadows mean;
    Lo, to Thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed,
    Tranced as it beholds Thee, shrined within the cloud.

    Taste, and touch, and vision, to discern Thee fail;
    Faith, that comes by hearing, pierces through the veil.
    I believe whate'er the Son of God hath told;
    What the Truth hath spoken, that for truth I hold.

    On the Cross lay hidden but thy Deity,
    Here is hidden also Thy Humanity:
    But in both believing and confessing, Lord,
    Ask I what the dying thief of Thee implored.

    Thy dread wounds, like Thomas, though I cannot see,
    His be my confession, Lord and God, of Thee,
    Make my faith unfeigned ever-more increase,
    Give me hope unfading, love that cannot cease.

    O memorial wondrous of the Lord's own death;
    Living Bread, that giveth all Thy creatures breath,
    Grant my spirit ever by Thy life may live,
    To my taste Thy sweetness never-failing give.

    Pelican of mercy, Jesus, Lord and God,
    Cleanse me, wretched sinner, in Thy Precious Blood:
    Blood where one drop for human-kind outpoured
    Might from all transgression have the world restored.

    Jesus, whom now veiled, I by faith descry,
    What my soul doth thirst for, do not, Lord, deny,
    That thy face unveiled, I at last may see,
    With the blissful vision blest, my God, of Thee. Amen

Today's lovely collect is this one:
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This is another very ancient one; from the 6th Century at least, given the reference in Hatchett to the Leonine SacramentaryHis (Hatchett's) Commentary says that:
The prayer is among a series for use at Vespers in the Leonine sacramentary (no.598).  The Gelasian appoints it as the initial prayer of the eighth of the sixteen Sunday Masses (no. 1209), and the Gregorian supplement has it as the collect (no. 1168) for the fourteenth Sunday after (the) Pentecost (octave).  The Sarum missal and earlier Prayer Books associate it with the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.  The message is clear and forthright:  only if we love what God commands can we render cheerful obedience, and for this we need the gifts of faith, hope, and charity.  The Latin form as "that we may deserve to obtain what you promise," but Cranmer eliminated any idea of merit from the collect.
Good old Cranmer, emphasizing Grace above all - and that's a good idea, too, in my view.   That theme goes very well with the motet above as well, which exalts the good gifts of God.  It's also perfect for the Gospel reading for today, the story of the Publican and the Pharisee; that one's entirely about the centrality of Grace.

I was thinking about "gratitude" today; it's normal to want to express it for the beauty of the world, and for other good and pleasing things (including Maurice Greene's musical talent!).

My dog and I took a nice long walk in the hills today, and got our blood rushing and our cheeks all rosy - and then we went to the dog park, where we saw a Jack Russell Terrier and a German Shepherd, both puppies, chasing 2 Italian greyhounds around the place.  (They never came close to catching them.)  A Bernese Mountain Dog got into the act, too, and a couple of mutts, including mine.

It was a beautiful day, and the dogs were loving it too.   Easy to understand the Psalmist's desire to thank God for "crowning the year" with such a day.....

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