Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bible Sunday

The collect for Advent II

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The collect for this week alludes to Paul's words in Romans 15: "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." I've never realized before just how many biblical words the collect contains. (It was written by Cranmer himself, not translated.) Cranmer is a genius at working biblical phrases into his collects.

It's hard to tell in the context in Romans exactly what comforting aspects of Scripture Paul has in mind, especially since he doesn't, as one might expect, begin talking about heaven. Instead, he emphasizes the fact that Jesus Christ was sent to confirm the promises of God that the Gentiles also would be invited to be part of the people of God.

One of today's hymns did, however, remind me also of the hope we have in Jesus' coming. The best line is "And for the everlasting right/The silent stars are strong." The hymn reminds me that it is not some new thing for Christians in 2008 to need some encouragement and to feel that we are in the middle of the slow watches of the night.

Thy kingdom come! on bended knee
The passing ages pray;
And faithful souls have yearned to see
On earth that kingdom’s day.

But the slow watches of the night
Not less to God belong;
And for the everlasting right
The silent stars are strong.

And lo, already on the hills
The flags of dawn appear;
Gird up your loins, ye prophet souls,
Proclaim the day is near.

The day in whose clear shining light
All wrong shall stand revealed,
When justice shall be throned in might,
And every hurt be healed.

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
Shall walk the earth abroad;
The day of perfect righteousness,
The promised day of God.

We sing it at my church to the tune given here for a different song. The tune is called "St. Flavian."


Kristor said...

But lo already on the hills, the flags of dawn appear.

I love that line. It moves me deeply, every time I sing it. If ever I write a book about Christian devotion, I think I'll call it Flags of Dawn.

Lydia McGrew said...

Do it!