31 January 2016

‘Let us pray that we may know
and share the light of Christ’

The Presentation depicted in a stained glass window in the north ambulatory in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

This is the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, and I am presiding at the Sung Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral later this morning [31 January 2016] at 11 a.m.

This morning’s preacher is the Rector of Rathfarnham, Canon Adrienne Galligan, and the setting is Missa Brevis S. Johannis de Deo by Franz Josef Haydn (1732–1809), sung by the Cathedral Choir.

The readings are: Jeremiah 1: 4-10; Psalm 48; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13; and Luke 4: 21-30. The New Testament reading is familiar to many because part of it so popular as a reading at weddings:

1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.

Our hymns this morning are: Processional Hymn: ‘Of the Father’s heart begotten,’ by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (ca 348-413) and translated by RF Davis (1866-1937); Offertory Hymn: ‘Sing how the age-long promise of a Saviour,’ by the editors of the New English Hymnal and based on a ninth century Latin text; Communion Hymn: ‘Faithful vigil ended,’ by Timothy Dudley–Smith; and Post-Communion Hymn: ‘Christ, whose glory fills the skies,’ Charles Wesley (1707-1788).

The Motet is by William Byrd (1539/40-1623), and is his ‘Magnificat Antiphon’ in his ‘Presentation Vespers’:

Hodie beata Virgo Maria puerum Jesum praesentavit in templo,
On this day, the Blessed Virgin Mary took the child Jesus when she went to the temple,
Et Simeon, repletus Spiritu Sancto, accepit eum in ulnas suas,
And Simeon, being filled with the Holy Spirit, receiv’d him in his arms,
Et benedixit Deum in aeternum.
And blessed God in eternity.

These hymns and the motet anticipate the Feast of the Candlemas, which falls on Tuesday [2 February] but, because of the Diocesan Clergy Conference in Kilkenny later this week, is being marked in the cathedral this evening at 5 p.m. with the Candlemas Procession sung by the Cathedral Choir.

The service sheet for this evening introduces the Candlemas Procession in these words:

Candlemas is the climax of the Christmas and Epiphany season. It is a feast rich in meaning, with several related themes running through it – presentation, purification, meeting, and light for the world. The various names by which it has been known in Christian history illustrate just how much it has to teach and to celebrate. But the true meaning of Candlemas is found in its ‘bitter-sweet’ nature. It is a feast day, and the revelation of the child Jesus in the Temple, greeted by Simeon and Anna, calls for rejoicing. Nevertheless, the prophetic words of Simeon, which speak of the falling and rising of many and the sword that will pierce Mary’s heart, lead on to the passion and to Easter. Coming at the very end of the Christmas celebration, with Lent nearly always nearby, Candlemas is a real pivot in the Christian year.

The Bidding Prayer says:

Dear friends, forty days have passed since we celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now we recall the day on which he was presented in the Temple, when he was offered to the Father and shown to his people. His mother was purified according to the custom of the time, and we now come to him for cleansing. In their old age Simeon and Anna recognised him as their Lord, as we today sing of his glory. We celebrate both the joy of his coming and his searching judgement, looking back to the day of his birth and forward to the coming days of his passion. So let us pray that we may know and share the light of Christ.

1 comment:

Al DeFilippo said...

Charles Wesley hymns, always moving. If you interest, last year I published a book about the early Methodist movement in England. Black Country is the opening book in the trilogy based on the early years of the West Midlands preacher, Francis Asbury. The Asbury Triptych Series will eventually cover Asbury's years up to his ordination in the American Colonies. The website for the book series has numerous articles on early Methodism in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the American Colonies. The website is www.francisasburytriptych.com. Enjoy. And thank you again for the post.