Thursday, December 04, 2014

Sing Christmas Dec 4

Of the Father's heart begotten,
ere the world from chaos rose,
he is Alpha: from that Fountain
all that is and hath been flows;
He is Omega, of all things
yet to come the mystic Close!
Evermore and evermore!

By his word was all created;
He commanded and ‘twas done;
Earth and sky and boundless ocean,
Universe of three in one,
All that sees the moon’s soft radiance,
All that breathes beneath the sun
Evermore and evermore!

O how blest that wondrous birthday
When the Maid the curse retrieved,
brought to birth mankind’s salvation,
By the Holy Ghost conceived;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
In her loving arms received,
Evermore and evermore!

Sing ye heights of heav’n his praises
Angels and Archangels sing!
Wheresoe’r ye be, ye faithful,
let your joyous anthems ring,
Ev’ry tongue his name confessing
Countless voices answering
Evermore and evermore!

Aurelius Clemens Prudentius 348-413, trans. Roby Furley Davis, 1906.

This is one of our most ancient Christmas Carols, translated from a Latin hymn from the fourth century, which was written by Aurelius Prudentius. He was a Roman Christian from what is now Northern Spain. He was a lawyer and provincial governor, but late in life withdrew to follow an ascetic way of life, writing poetry, hymns and theological works.

His hymn is a beautiful meditation on the Incarnation, written in mystical language, which sets the birth of Jesus in the context of the grand story of creation and re-creation. It echoes the language of the first chapter of John’s Gospel, often read at Christmas, ”In the beginning was the Word…All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” We are part of that creation, part of “all that sees the moon’s soft radiance”. Although this beauty has been marred by human sin, Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is the start of a re-creation, which heals that damage. He is a gift to us that is “of the Father’s heart”, a gift of his love for a world he will never abandon.

·         Read the hymn slowly. Which phrases or words stand out for you?
·         Who or what is on your heart today; people you care for or worry about? In the same way, you are on God’s heart today. How does that make you feel?

Bible Reading: See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. 1 John 3. 1

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