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Friday, December 30, 2016
This is he whom seers in old time
chanted of with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word.
Now he shines, the long-expected.
Let creation praise its Lord,
evermore and evermore!
O ye heights of heaven, adore him.
Angel hosts, his praises sing.
Powers, dominions, bow before him,
and extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent;
every voice in concert ring,
evermore and evermore!
Christ, to thee with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and unwearied praises be.
Honor, glory, and dominion,
and eternal victory,
evermore and evermore! Amen.
Aurelius Clemens Prudentius’s “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”
(tune: Divinum Mysterium)
trans. John Mason Neale and Henry Williams Baker
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
There are times when we sing hymns during worship that I find myself lost in the music and cadence of the song and our collective congregational experience, perhaps to the detriment of the words I am singing. It’s difficult for me to fully extract the message and meaning when in the moment. I just know that I get a sense of uplifting fulfillment during many of those times, especially during Christmas. So what an opportunity to step into what is one of the most powerful hymns of the season and lose myself in the words alone!
Validation. Proclamation. Adoration. This hymn represents an early statement of faith that comes to us from the writings of Aurelius Prudentius in the early fifth century CE. And it was, and still is, a striking affirmation of the divinity of Jesus. The early verses bring us the long-anticipated birth and acclamation of the Christ child so beautifully resonant to our celebration of Christmas. In the final three stanzas above, Prudentius’s powerful verse firmly asserts the Trinity, written at a time of continued heretical strife. He moves us from the validation of Jesus’ place in all time, to the demand that we evermore proclaim our Triune God, and then to our gratitude and eternal adoration.
He issues the call to us through time to keep us grounded in the essence of our Christianity. While we stand and proclaim this faith each week during worship, there is a lyrical beauty in this plainsong chant that is a timeless expression of belief. And so we celebrate our oneness with the ages in the glory of the newborn King.
God Father, Son, and Spirit, we bring witness to you in the joy of the season, humbled by the vulnerability of a child, grateful for the gift of grace. “Let no tongue on earth be silent; every voice in concert ring, evermore and evermore.” Amen
Written by Ken Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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