Thursday, December 1, 2011

Calm on the Listening Ear of Night

1. Calm on the listening ear of night

Come heaven's melodious strains,

Where wild Judea stretch'ed far

Her silver mantled plains.

2. Celestial choirs from courts above

Shed sacred glories there;

And angels, with their sparkling lyres,

Make music on the air.

3. The answering hills of Palestine

Send back the glad reply;

And greet, from all their holy heights,
The Dayspring* from on high.

4. O'er the blue depths of Galilee**

There comes a holier calm,

And Sharon*** waves, in solemn praise,

Her silent groves of palm.

5. "Glory to God!" the sounding skies

Loud with their anthems ring,

"Peace to the earth, good will to men,

From heaven's eternal King!"

6. Light on thy hills, Jerusalem!

The Savior now is born:

More bright on Bethlehem's joyous plains

Breaks the first Christmas morn.

---Edmund Hamilton Sears, 1834 (abridged)

*Dayspring: a poetic expression of "The Rising Sun", specifically the Messiah come to earth. From Luke 1:78, the Song of Zechariah at the birth of his son, John the Baptist. John was born to prepare the way of Jesus, the Messiah.

**The Sea of Galilee, up in the northern region of the Holy Land.

***Plain of Sharon: a lush coastal plain in Israel, between Joppa to the south & Mt. Carmel to the north.

Photo still from "The Nativity Story" (c) 2006

Sunday, November 6, 2011

For the Fruit of His Creation

For the fruits of His creation,
Thanks be to God.
Gifts bestowed on every nation,
Thanks be to God.
For the plowing, sowing, reaping,
Silent growth while we are sleeping,
Future needs in earth's safekeeping,
Thanks be to God.

In the just reward of labor,
God's will is done.
In the help we give our neighbor,
God's will is done.
In our worldwide task of caring
For the hungry and despairing,
In the harvests we are sharing,
God's will is done.

For the harvests of the Spirit,
Thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit,
Thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us,
For the truths that still confound us,
Most of all that love has found us,
Thanks be to God.

---Fred Pratt Green (d. 2000);

(c) 1970, Hope Publishing Co.

(This poem is a hymn set to the old Welsh lulllaby tune, "All Through the Night" ["Ar Hyd y Nos"])

Sunday, October 2, 2011

When All Else Fails.....Rejoice!

Though the fig tree does not blossom
Nor grapes on the vines;
Though the olive crop fails
And the fields yield no fruit,
Though there are no flocks in the stalls,
Yet will I rejoice in Yahweh
And will be joyful in the God of my salvation.
The Lord Yahweh is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer's"
He makes me [able] to tread on high places.
For the Director of Music. On my [Habakkuk's] stringed instruments.
---Habakkuk 3:17-19
Habakkuk had been praying to Yahweh (God) throughout this book about various injustices. God's own people were cheating others. Then the Babylonians (Chaldeans) were to come to punish the Jews, but the Babylonians were a violent people. But each time, God gave Habakkuk an answer, and the prophet wrote this song in the end to praise God, whatever the circumstances surrounding him might be.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

God of Our Fathers

(posted for the 10th Anniversary of 9-11)

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.
-----Daniel C. Warren, 1876 (for our nation's centennial)
(this hymn, while written by a Christian, granted, does not have the saving grace of Christ spelled out in its text)

Monday, August 1, 2011

I shall know why (untitled)


I shall know why—when Time is over—
And I have ceased to wonder why—
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky*—

He will tell me what "Peter" promised**—
And I—for wonder at his woe
I shall forget the drop of Anguish
That scalds me now—that scalds me now!

---Emily Dickinson, circa 1880

* Many people have speculated that in heaven, we will have all our questions answered, but that, then, it won't matter anymore.

**Probably a reference to Peter's promise to Jesus that he absolutely would not deny Him through the hard times coming up. Those hard times were Jesus's trial later that night, His suffering and His death. Peter did, indeed, deny Christ, three times, and then went out and wept bitterly when the rooster crowed (as Jesus had prophesied), and Peter laid eyes on Jesus. This was Peter's anguish. Dickinson is probably making a parallel to the ways she knows she has fallen short and the anguish that brings, realizing that her anguish will fade when (1) confronted by Peter's in person and (2) she is in the presence of Christ. Since "Peter" is in quotes, Dickinson may be going beyond the literal Peter of the Bible to refer to someone, some man, who left her feeling betrayed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Great Is Thy Faithfulness*

1."Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!
2. Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

3.Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

---Thomas Obediah Chisholm, 1923

*Based on Lamentations 3:22-24: "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (NIV)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Creator, Spirit, By Whose Aid

(a hymn for Pentecost)

Creator, Spirit*, by whose aid

The world's foundations first were laid.

Come, visit every humble mind;

Come pour Your joys on humankind.

From sin and sorrow set us free;

May we Your living temples be.

Giver of grace, descend from high;

Your sevenfold** gifts to us supply.

Help us eternal truths receive

And practice all that we believe.

Give us Yourself that we may see

The glory of the Trinity.

Immortal honor, endless fame

Attend the Almighty Father's Name.

The Savior, Son, be glorified,

Who for all humankind has died.

To You, O Counselor***, we raise

Unending songs of thanks and praise.

---Rabanus Marus, early 9th century A.D.; translated by John Dryden, adapted c.m.b., 2011.

*For more on the Holy Spirit in creation, see notes on Gerard Manley Hopkins's "God's Grandeur" below

**Sevenfold gift of the Spirit: (Isaiah 11:1-2). The Catholic Catechism defines them as "wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord." While this is not a Biblical listing, it is a listing worth considering.

***Greek "Paraclete", counselor, advisor, comfortor, legal counsel (lawyer), all-in-one.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I cannot tell you how it was,
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and sunny day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last egg had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird foregone its mate*.

I cannot tell you what it was,
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
Like all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and gray.

---Christina Rossetti, (1830-1894)

*in the world of birds, many males leave their mates after the babies are old enough to fly away

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Joseph the Faithful Carpenter

(March 19th Commemorates Joseph, Stepfather of Jesus)Joseph, the Faithful Carpenter
Ponders the news he keeps concealed
His bride-to-be is found with child—
A father’s name is not revealed.

As Joseph slumbers fitfully
An angel enters Joseph’s dream
To tell him that this comes of God
And things are not as they may seem:

“O, Joseph, banish all your fears
And take Young Mary as your wife
And be a father to God’s child
Who comes to share in human life.”

Good Joseph, born of David’s line
(which matters not in days of Rome)
Bequeaths a human royalty
And gives the Boy a godly home.

A jealous Herod fears this King
So Joseph takes them speedily
To Egypt, where again he works,
To care for his small family.

An angel tells that Herod’s deal,
So Joseph brings them all back home;
He brings them to quaint Nazareth
And raises God’s Son as his own.
---C. Marie Byars, 1999 (c)
Painting by Coello, c. 1650

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Deer's Cry

(St.Patrick's Breastplate)

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgement of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of the Cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of the resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In prediction of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak to me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me,

Christ to shield me today,
Against poising, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So there come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye of every one who sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

---Attributed to St. Patrick, 385-461
(from a translation by Kuno Meyer;adapted from an earier translation by Cecil Francis Alexander)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Winter Sun

Most of the U.S. has just survived a massive cold front with huge snowfall. So, here's some "sunshine" to brighten your day!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Love Divine, All Love Excelling

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

--- Charles Wesley, 1747

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cardinals in Winter

These are not my photos---they're stock internet photos of a male and a female cardinal. Such lovely birds. Surely in heaven, when we are perfect people, the cardinals will have no fear of us and come close to perch on us. (I hope, anyway. And I think it's a pretty reasonable hope.)