More than two thousand seven hundred years ago, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying, “And I … am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory” (66:18). And He did come just as He promised, in the incarnate Savior, Jesus Christ. Now many peoples of all manner and kind, from every nation, gather to proclaim His glory and praise His name.
Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance. (Psalm 78:25)
The hymn, Panis Angelicus, written by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, comes close to describing the ineffable mixture of unspeakable joy and perfect peace that we experience in the sacrament of holy communion. Yet when we partake of the body and blood of Jesus Christ by faith, we are feasting on more than the bread of angels, this manna that rained down for forty years upon the Israelites in the wilderness that the psalmist describes. Instead, by faith we receive Christ Himself, the Son of God incarnate, in a gift of atonement and communion that even the angels cannot know but that by grace we possess through the Holy Spirit leading us into fellowship with the Trinitarian God, a fellowship inscribed within the eternal, steadfast love of the Father.
He sat on his front porch, listening:
behind him, the sounds of Corigliano
spun slowly out into the road before him –
Fantasia on an Ostinato – spinning round him
with the centrifugal trauma of gathering desire
inevitably aborted, the weight of a shudder
passing through him like the blunt edge
of a Mamet play: he gripped his arms
to steady himself against the onslaught
of thoughts and impressions, and, yes, wishes
that fled as fast as they appeared, ghostly archipelagos
rolling like gravel out the leaky corners of his eyes.
Hallelujah! Merry Christmas to all my wonderful readers and fellow bloggers! On this Christmas morn, take time to reflect on the the great mystery of the incarnation, the magnum mysterium, and praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who sent His Son as light to conquer the darkness of sin and death.
To tell you the truth, it’s the lyrics by Stéphane Bordèse that hit me before the music, which is unusual, at least for me. Not that Gabriel Fauré’s “En Prière” (1890) isn’t a beautifully poetic piece of music. I’ve heard it performed recently with harp and voice but Kathleen Battle’s performance below is just as exquisite with piano.
“En Prière” (In Prayer)
As the voice of a child can reach You,
O my Father,
Hear my prayer, on bended knee before You!
As You have chosen me to teach Your
laws on earth,
I will know how to serve You, noble
King of kings, O Light!
On my lips, Lord, place the salutary
In order that he who doubts should with
Humility revere You!
Do not abandon me, give me the
To ease suffering, to relieve sorrow,
Reveal Yourself to me, my Father, in whom I
trust and hope:
For You I wish to suffer and to die on
The cross, at Calvary!