in hymns, Mount Calvary Church, Music No Comments Tags: Alleluia Sing to Jesus, Crown Him with Many Crowns, Godfrey Thring, Matthew Bridges, O God teh King of Glory, O Jesus King Most Wonderful, The Head taht Once Was Crowned with Thorns, Thomas Kelly, William Dix
Crown Him with Many Crowns, 1851: Anglican Matthew Bridges (1800-1894) wrote six verses of this hymn, which is based on Rev: 1: 12: “and on His head were many crowns.” But Bridges converted to Catholicism, and Godfrey Thring (1823-1903) thought the hymn was too Catholic, and wrote six more verses, so hymnals, depending on their leanings, use different selections of verses. In the 1940 Hymnal the first and last verses are by Bridges, the middle three by Thring.
Matthew Bridges was born at Malden, Essex, on July 14, 1800. He began his literary career with the publication of a poem, “Jerusalem Regained,” in 1825; followed by a book entitled The Roman Empire under Constantine the Great, in 1828, its purpose being to examine “the real origin of certain papal superstitions.” As a result of the influence of John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement, Bridges became a Roman Catholic in 1848, and spent the latter part of his life in Canada. He returned to England to live in a small villa at the Convent of the Assumption at Sidmouth, Devon, where he died in 1894.
Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! how the heavenly anthems drowns
All music but its own:
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.
Crown Him the Virgin’s Son!
The God Incarnate born,—
Whose arm those crimson trophies won
Which now His brow adorn!
Fruit of the mystic Rose
As of that Rose the Stem:
The Root, whence mercy ever flows,—
The Babe of Bethlehem!
Crown Him the Lord of peace!
Whose power a scepter sways,
From pole to pole,—that wars may cease,
Absorbed in prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round His pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.
Crown Him the Lord of love!
Behold His hands and side,—
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified:
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye
At mysteries so bright!
Crown Him the Lord of years!
The Potentate of time,—
Creator of the rolling spheres,
Glassed in a sea of light,
Where everlasting waves
Reflect His throne,—the Infinite!
Who lives,—and loves—and saves.
Crown Him the Lord of heaven!
One with the Father known,—
And the blest Spirit, through Him given
From yonder triune throne!
All hail! Redeemer,—Hail!
For Thou hast died for me;
Thy praise shall never, never fail
Crown Him with crowns of gold,
All nations great and small,
Crown Him, ye martyred saints of old,
The Lamb once slain for all;
The Lamb once slain for them
Who bring their praises now,
As jewels for the diadem
That girds His sacred brow.
Crown Him the Son of God
Before the worlds began,
And ye, who tread where He hath trod,
Crown Him the Son of man;
Who every grief hath known
That wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own,
That all in Him may rest.
Crown Him the Lord of light,
Who o’er a darkened world
In robes of glory infinite
His fiery flag unfurled.
And bore it raised on high,
In heaven-in earth-beneath,
To all the sign of victory
O’er Satan, sin, and death.
Crown Him the Lord of life
Who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save;
His glories now we sing
Who died, and rose on high.
Who died, eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die.
Crown Him of lords the Lord,
Who over all doth reign
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word,
For ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light,
Where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night,
Their God, Redeemer, King.
Crown Him the Lord of heaven,
Enthroned in worlds above;
Crown Him the King, to whom is given
The wondrous name of Love,
Crown Him with many crowns,
As thrones before Him fall.
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns,
For He is King of all.
As Benjamim Kolodziej explains:
Thring has eliminated that which most reflects Roman Catholic doctrine. Gone are the references to the Mystic Rose, the stanza extolling Christ’s glorious wounds, and the entire tenor of the hymn is reduced in its triumphalism. Thring personalizes that Christ whom Bridges describes as “The God Incarnate born” when Thring writes of Christ “who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast.” Whereas Bridges’s text bears an almost creedal hallmark, Thring’s exhibits a personal response to this credo. Although both hymns are Christocentric and refer to Christ’s salvific atonement in specific ways, Thring includes a stanza which very specifically elucidates the atonement. The fourth stanza, which most modern hymnals incorporate into their setting of the hymn, sings of the “Lord of Life” “who died-Eternal Life to bring, and lives that death may die.” Thring continues noting “th’Incarnate Word for ransomed sinners slain,” employing not only Biblical language but also terminology which would have been a bit more pedestrian to Victorian sensibilities. Bridges’s hymn refers to the atonement only thrice-when he sings “Of Him who died for thee,” when he notes Christ “lives, and loves, and saves” and when his final doxology proclaims, “For Thou hast died for me.” Bridges’s text is couched in poetic grandeur and eschatological mystagogy before it proclaims redemption, while Thring’s text only manages to evoke heavenly splendor after firmly grounding the text within human terms, “all nations great and small.”
Godfrey Thring was born at Alford, Somerset, the son of the rector, Rev. John Gale Dalton Thring and Sarah née Jenkyns. He was brother of Theodore Thring (1816–91), Henry, Lord Thring (1818–1907) (a noted jurist and Parliamentary Counsel to the Treasury), Edward Thring (headmaster of Uppingham School) and Rev. John Charles Thring (a master at Uppingham School and deviser of the Uppingham or Cambridge Rules of football), and two sisters. The family is commemorated in Alford Church by carved choir seats in the chancel and two memorial windows.
He was educated at Shrewsbury School and graduated in 1845 from Balliol College, Oxford with a BA. He was ordained in the Anglican Church. In 1858 his father united the benefices of Alford and Hornblotton by an Act of Parliament styled the “Thrings Estate Bill” and Godfrey became his father’s curate. He built Hornblotton Rectory for Godfrey in 1867.
Godfrey commissioned the architect Thomas Graham Jackson to build new churches at Hornblotton and Lottisham, and became, in Jackson’s words, “one of my best and most valued friends”. Jackson created for him a remarkable little church, rich in the Arts and Crafts style and strikingly decorated in sgraffito work.
Thring died in 1903 and was buried in Shamley Green, Surrey, England.
His hymnography did not impress all his contemporaries. One wrote that Thring’s A Church of England Hymn Book (1880) amounted to little more than “thick, squat book, in a sadcoloured green cloth binding,” the only laudatory comment being the final sentence, “The book is well indexed.”
Thring’s church at Hornblotton
(I did not make up any of these names)
The hymn was sung in Westminster Abbey at the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The announcer misinforms the British public that the words are by George Eliot.
One person commented:
I always like the looks on the Royals’ faces as they look around when those sopranos are reaching those high notes at the top of their lungs. It’s kind of funny.
Anthem: O Jesus, King Most Wonderful is a contrafactum: a piece of music in which one text has been substituted for another. The text is an English translation of a hymn of Bernard of Clairvaux (Jesu Rex Admirabilis, circa 1153) by Edward Caswall (circa 1848). Caswall was an Oxford graduate and Anglican priest that was received into the Catholic church in the 1840s and joined the Birmingham Oratory. The hymn depicts Jesus as a King and conqueror but also as the source of light and life. The music by Christopher Tye (1500-1573) was originally set to a different sacred English text in a simple, clear, and primarily homophonic texture so typical of the English Reformation.
IESU, Rex admirabilis
et triumphator nobilis,
O JESUS, King most wonderful!
Thou Conqueror renowned!
Thou Sweetness most ineffable!
in whom all joys are found!
Quando cor nostrum visitas,
tunc lucet ei veritas,
mundi vilescit vanitas,
et intus fervet caritas.
When once Thou visitest the heart,
then truth begins to shine;
then earthly vanities depart;
then kindles love divine.
Iesu, dulcedo cordium,
fons vivus, lumen mentium,
excedens omne gaudium
et omne desiderium.
O Jesu! Light of all below!
Thou font of life and fire!
surpassing all the joys we know,
and all we can desire.
Iesum omnes agnoscite,
amorem eius poscite;
Iesum ardenter quaerite,
May every heart confess Thy name,
and ever Thee adore;
and seeking Thee, itself inflame
to seek Thee more and more.
Te nostra, Iesu, vox sonet,
nostri te mores exprimant;
te corda nostra diligant
et nunc, et in perpetuum
The Head that Once was Crowned with Thorns. Thomas Kelly (1769-1854) based this hymn on Hebrews 2: 9-10 which speaks of Christ’s glory and the universal message of grace that is available because of Christ’s suffering: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
Kelly employs the poetic device of hypotyposis – a vivid description of a scene or events in words – that provides the singer with a glimpse of the splendor of heaven, which is contrasted with the suffering of the cross and the suffering of all who follow Christ on earth.
Son of a judge, Kelly attended Trinity College (BA 1789) and planned to be a lawyer. After converting to Christ, though, his career plans changed to the ministry. He became an Anglican priest in 1792, but eventually became one of the famous dissenting ministers. He wrote over 760 hymns. Miller’s Singers of the Church (1869) says of him:
Mr. Kelly was a man of great and varied learning, skilled in the Oriental tongues, and an excellent Bible critic. He was possessed also of musical talent, and composed and published a work that was received with favour, consisting of music adapted to every form of metre in his hymn-book. Naturally of an amiable disposition and thorough in his Christian piety, Mr. Kelly became the friend of good men, and the advocate of every worthy, benevolent, and religious cause. He was admired alike for his zeal and his humility; and his liberality found ample scope in Ireland, especially during the year of famine.
Anthem: O God the King of Glory is an anthem by Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695), the most famous of the few Englishmen who composed in the baroque style. Purcell composed music for the stage and had a keen sense of drama. This piece implores God, the King of Glory, who exalted Christ to heaven, not to leave us comfortless. The first few measures introduce the King with a nod to the French baroque overture, then uses rising phrases to convey the sense of exaltation, then arrives in heaven on a high D major chord. It then turns to striking chromatic harmonies that convey the sense of pleading for the comfort and companionship of the Holy Ghost. Here it is sung by Voces XII.
Alleluia! Sing to Jesus. William Dix (1837-1898), an Anglican High Churchman, wrote this deeply Catholic Eucharistic hymn. Jesus is King and High Priest, who, wearing “robes of flesh,” our human nature, has entered “within the veil” in the heavenly Temple. He is high priest both there and at the altar, where he offers himself to His Father and unites us to Himself in that offering when we receive His sacrificed body and blood in faith.
J. R. Watson’s analysis:
What Dix has done is to allude to different passages of scripture in a dense interlocking weave, in a manner that had not been practised since the work of Charles Wesley. In this hymn, Dix—perhaps unconsciously—picks up Wesley’s intertextual method and applies it, using the Gospels, the Epistles, and Revelation:
Intercessor, friend of sinners,
Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless
Sweep across the crystal sea.
The rhetoric of the first verse (‘His the sceptre … his the triumph’) gives way to a sudden cry, as though the spirit of Neale was married to the spirit of Toplady; and the hymn then swings into its vision of the crystal sea, from Revelation 4. Dix then brings it back to earth with a final reference to the Holy Communion:
Thou on earth both priest and victim,
In the eucharistic feast.
Jesus is ‘the great high priest’, and the figures of Aaron and Melchisedec are blended with the figure of the crucified Saviour. Dix compresses volumes of systematic theology into the verse-form, and it is that compression which gives the hymn a distinction not seen since the eighteenth century.
William Chatterton Dix
According to Wikipedia:
William Chatterton Dix (14 June 1837 – 9 September 1898) was an English writer of hymns and carols. He was born in Bristol, the son of John Dix, a local surgeon, who wrote The Life of Chatterton the poet, a book of Pen Pictures of Popular English Preachers and other works. His father gave him his middle name in honour of Thomas Chatterton, a poet about whom he had written a biography. He was educated at the Grammar School, Bristol, for a mercantile career, and became manager of a maritime insurance company in Glasgow where he spent most of his life.
Few modern writers have shown so signal a gift as his for the difficult art of hymn-writing. His original hymns are found in most modern hymn-books. He wrote also felicitous renderings in metrical form of Richard Frederick Littledale’s translations from the Greek in his Offices of the Holy Eastern Church; and of Rodwell’s translations of Abyssinian hymns. Some of his carols, such as The Manger Throne, have been very popular. His hymns and carols also include As with Gladness Men of Old, What Child Is This?, To You, O Lord, Our Hearts We Raise and Alleluia! Sing to Jesus.
At the age of 29 he was struck with a near fatal illness and consequently suffered months confined to his bed. During this time he became severely depressed. Yet it is from this period that many of his hymns date. He died at Cheddar, Somerset, England, and was buried at his parish church.
Many of the Anglican hymns celebrating the kingship of Jesus were written as Ascension Day hymns, because on that day Jesus ascended to his Father’s throne and took His seat at the right hand of God.
Michael Damaskenos, Crete 16th c.
The Germans say that Schadenfreude is the best Freude. Of course, they would. It’s a sin of some sort, I am sure.
So why are the Clinton supporters insisting in giving so much of this joy to the other half of the electorate? And they insist on doing it on camera. Don’t know they are being an occasion of sin to Trump voters?
In our bizarre political world, I understand that Pepe the frog is a hate symbol, according to Wikipedia
During the 2016 United States presidential election, associations of the character with Donald Trump’s campaign, white nationalism, and the alt-right were described by various news organizations. In May 2016, Olivia Nuzzi of The Daily Beast wrote how there was “an actual campaign to reclaim Pepe from normies” and that “turning Pepe into a white nationalist icon” was an explicit goal of some on the alt-right. In September 2016, an article published on Hillary Clinton’s campaign website described Pepe as “a symbol associated with white supremacy” and denounced Donald Trump’s campaign for its supposed promotion of the meme. The Anti-Defamation League, an American organization opposed to antisemitism, included Pepe in its hate symbol database but noted that most instances of Pepe were not used in a hate-related context.
The Beast says
Another anonymous white nationalist, @PaulTown, claimed to be “in my late 20s,” but declined to say where he exists geographically, other than to confirm that, every few months, he meets the members of his community in New York City. He estimated the broad #FrogTwitter movement to consist of about 30 people but said 10 core members helped plot it out over drinks in late 2015, before taking to /r9k/.
“We all do some weightlifting, so we met through friends involved in that scene,” he said. “Turning Pepe into a white nationalist icon was one of our original goals, although we’ve had our hands in many other things.”
Perhaps we should ask Queen Elizabeth if she feels up to taking another country on.
Everyone is focusing on the outcome of the presidential election. They are not paying attention to Congress and still less to the states.
How could Hillary get a slight majority of the popular vote and the House is still solidly Republican?
Looking at the state legislature results helps to explain why. Compare 2016 with 2009.
The Democrats have been almost completely focused on the office of the President. They want an emperor who will rule by decree, without the messy business of democratic consensus. But our federal system was set up to prevent an activist Federal government that responded to popular whims; only if the people really want something for a long time will they get it.
The Republicans have for years been doing the hard, unglamorous work of local politics: identifying and getting people elected to county councils, and then to state legislatures Two-thirds of state legislators are Republican. This is a pool of candidates for the House of Representatives. But this work does not get you on TV, does not get you invited to Hollywood dinners, does not get you the notice and the approbation of the New York Times.
The state legislatures influence, to some extent, voting laws and redistricting. Here the Democrats shot themselves in the foot by passing the Voting Rights Act that requires that minority voting power not be diluted. Minority, i.e. Democratic, voters vote at a lower rate than white voters, and so they have to be taken out of other districts and concentrated in one district which will reliably elect a minority, i.e. Democratic, representative. The Democrats failed to think through the consequences of this policy, no doubt because they regard logic as a tool of dead white male
oppression. If the minority – Democratic voters are put into one district, that means they are taken out of other districts, which therefore become less Democratic and more reliably Republican. And that is indeed what has happened. Minority districts elect minority Democratic representatives. The surrounding districts are far more likely to elect Republicans.
in 2013 Steven Hill explained it in The Atlantic:
But just in time for the redistricting in 1990, some enterprising Republicans began noticing a rather curious fact: The drawing of majority-minority districts not only elected more minorities, it also had the effect of bleeding minority voters out of all the surrounding districts. Given that minority voters were the most reliably Democratic voters, that made all of the neighboring districts more Republican. The black, Latino, and Asian representatives mostly were replacing white Democrats, and the increase in minority representation was coming at the expense of electing fewer Democrats. The Democrats had been tripped up by a classic Catch-22, as had minority voters: Even as legislatures were becoming more diverse, they were ironically becoming less friendly to the agenda of racial minorities.
The Democrats also outlawed at-large races because they diluted minority voting strength.
In 1967 the Democrats controlling Congress passed a law that mandated the use of single-seat districts for federal House races, both to prevent some recalcitrant southern Democrats from going to statewide winner-take-all elections to dilute the black vote and also as a way to facilitate the gerrymandering of majority-minority districts. Ironically, now it’s that very same district-based system that is dragging the Democrats underwater.
The minority Representatives have safe seats and are not inclined to give up their districts to help white Democrats. The Republicans are happy with the outcome. So the House looks to be reliably Republican until the Republicans overreach themselves and bring down the wrath of the electorate upon their heads – which they will do someday.
The music for this Sunday connects the Second Coming of Christ with His coming in the Eucharist. It intensifies theme of the Advents of Christ that occur both now and at the end of time, and prepares us to look back at His earthly advent two millennia ago, in further preparation for His Advent into our souls and at the End of Time.
“Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending.” Charles Wesley reworked an older hymn and made it an expansion of the prayer in the Our Father: “Thy Kingdom come.” Ralph Vaughan Williams harmonized the tune Helmsley for the 1906 English Hymnal.
The theme of the hymn is taken from Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
Lo, He comes, with clouds descending,
once for our salvation slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ the Lord returns to reign.
The cloud is used in scripture to signal the presence of God, who is dark with excessive light. Moses entered the cloud on Sinai, and on Tabor a cloud descended on Jesus at the Transfiguration.
Ev’ry eye shall now behold Him,
Rob’d in dreadful majesty:
Those who set at nought and sold Him,
Pierc’d and nail’d him to the tree,
Shall the true Messiah see.
Some have seen anti-Semitism in this stanza, but the Scripture verse it is based on makes it clear that we, the sinners of all nations will wail when we see what we have done to God Himself through our sins.
Those dear tokens of His passion
still His dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!
John “saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” Rev 5:6. Those wounds, “the dear tokens of His passion,” inflicted by sinners, have saved the world.
Yea, amen! let all adore Thee,
high on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
claim the kingdom for Thine own:
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Thou shalt reign, and Thou alone.
The final stanza echoes 1 Cor 16:22, “Our Lord, come! Maranatha!”: “O come quickly! Christ the Lord returns to reign
A. Mozart (1756-1791): Dies irae. Mozart was working on the at the time of his death. He did not complete the score, and the sixth movement of the sequence, “Lacrimosa dies illa,” breaks off after eight bars. Years earlier, he had written to his father: “Young as I am, I never go to bed without thinking that possibly I may not be alive on the morrow; yet not one of the many persons who know me can say that I am morose or melancholy. For this happy disposition I thank my Creator daily, and wish with all my heart that it were shared by all my fellows.”
The tune of the Dies Irae is used frequently both classical music and in popular culture, including horror films:
Sleeping with the Enemy
Conan the Barbarian
The Lion King
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Murder in the First
Nightmare before Christmas
Mozart’s “Lacrimosa” was used in The Sinner and The Big Lebowski.
As the mainline Protestant churches and the Catholic Church have largely abandoned the apocalyptic fear exemplified by the Dies irae, it was taken up by popular culture, divorced from its Christian context and ultimate hope for mercy.s the mainline Protestant churches and the Catholic Church have largely abandoned the apocalyptic fear exemplified by the Dies irae, it was taken up by popular culture, divorced from its Christian context and ultimate hope for mercy.
“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” This ancient text is the Offertory hymn from the Liturgy of St. James. Jesus descends in the clouds of incense at the Eucharist, in which the smoke that filled the Temple at the Shekinah, at the presence of the Lord, is once again there at the throwing-open of the Holy of Holies, as God descends to feed His people with Himself.
“The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns.” This text was written by Scots Hymnologist John Brownlie (1859-1925) on ancient Greek models. It emphasizes the joy, the “endless bliss,” that we will feel when Jesus finally returns and reigns. The tune PICARDY comes from a book of French folksongs, Chansons Populaires des Provinces de France, published in 1860. Ralph Vaughan Williams paired it with this text for the 1906 English Hymnal.
Mount Calvary Church
Eutaw St.and Madison St.
Hymn: The Son of God Goes Forth to War
The Son of God goes forth to war
A kingly crown to gain.
His blood-red banner streams afar;
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below–
He follows in His train.
The Son of God Goes Forth to War was written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826), Anglican Bishop of Calcutta for the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. It alludes to Rev. 6: 2: And I saw, and behold, a white horse: and He that sat on him had a bow, and a crown (Greek: stephanos) was given unto him; and He went forth conquering, and to conquer.
Rubens: The Martyrdom of St. Stephen
Stephen is also referred to in the second stanza.
The martyr first whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave,
Who saw His Master in the sky
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong–
Who follows in his train?
The martyr is the Christian most closely conformed to Christ by sharing in his sufferings and death. Like Jesus, the martyr prays that those who kill him be forgiven. The twentieth century saw more martyrs than all the previous centuries as Christians were killed in Spain, Germany, the Soviet Union, and other Communist countries. The twenty-first century has seen thousands of Christian men, women, and children beaten to death, decapitated, crucified, or burned alive solely because they were Christians. It puts our sufferings, as serious as they sometimes are, into perspective. They are a small sharing in the One Sacrifice.
A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heav’n
Thro’ peril, toil, and pain.
O God, to us may grace be giv’n
To follow in their train!
The hymn was sung as the body of Florence Nightingale was lowered into the grave because of its reference to sacrifice. The hymn is rarely sung (and is not in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal) because of its reference to warfare. But in spiritual warfare victory is obtained not by killing but by dying. The Christian, following Jesus, conquers by sacrificing his or her life for others.
The hymn was sung in the 1975 film The Man Who Would Be King (based on Rudyard Kipling’s story) to the tune of The Minstrel Boy.
Here is another setting : harder to sing, but a powerful melody.
Ordinary: Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena
Offertory: Georg Frederick Handel (1685-1759): I Know That My Redeemer Liveth
The Air for soprano “I know that my Redeemer liveth” draws from both Job and Paul. It begins with the “ascending fourth,” a signal observed by musicologist Rudolf Steglich as a unifying motif of the oratorio, on the words “I know,” repeated almost every time these words appear again. “For now is Christ risen” is pictured in a steadily rising melody of more than an octave. (Wikipedia)
Communion: Thomas Tallis (1505-1585): The God of Love My Shepherd Is. This metrical version of Psalm 23 was written by George Herbert (1593-1633).
William P. Merrill
Closing: Rise Up O Men of God. This was written in 1911 by the Presbyterian pastor William P. Merrill (1867-1954) to support the men’s movement in the church, in which men were called to take up the work of reforming society on Christian principles. Lee Podles discussed this movement in his third talk on men and the church. Some object to the masculine emphasis and seemingly belligerent tone of the hymn, others detect the odor of optimistic liberal Protestantism, and Calvinists think it should be rewritten as “Sit down O men of God, You cannot do a thing.” Merrill was a pacifist and president of the Church Peace Union, and echoes the message of the first hymn, The Son of God Goes Forth to War. We “tread where His feet have trod” by climbing Mount Calvary; not by killing, but by sacrificing ourselves even for those who would kill us.
A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heav’n
Thro’ peril, toil, and pain.
O God, to us may grace be giv’n
To follow in their train!
- Today is the feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist.
After the death of Jacques Hamel some denied he was a martyr (witness) because he was not given the opportunity to preserve his life by denying Christ. The Church has had different working definitions of those whom she honors as martyrs. The general definition today is a person who is killed out of hatred of Christ and His Church. But even wider definitions have been used.
Here is what the Venerable Bede says of John the Baptist:
“There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: I am the truth? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.”
Similarly, until recently the Western Church had a feast of the Maccabees, Jews who died in testimony to the truth of the Mosaic Law.
Those who are persecuted because they testify to the truth of God’s law – that the poor should not be oppressed, that the unborn should not be killed, that the innocent should not be murdered – are indeed martyrs, whether or not the Church deems it possible or wise to honor them liturgically. The martyrs, known and unknown, will shine like the sun in the New Creation
Today is the feast of St. Augustine the greatest thinker of the Western Church. Over the years I have read much of his work.
Augustine and Limited Salvation
Two themes have always struck me. First of all, he always interprets Scripture to make salvation as narrow as possible. “God wills all men to be saved” is for Augustine a tautology: God wills all to be saved whom he wills to be saved, which is a small, very small portion of the human race: those who are members of the Catholic Church and remain in grace at the end of their lives. The rest of mankind is a “massa damnationis.”
On one hand this has given the Western Church a zeal for conversion, but this conversion has frequently used means that have tarnished the Gospel. On the other hand it has given the Western Church a narrow, dark character that ends in sectarianisms, Calvinism, Jansenism, and a hardness of heart, In discussions of the possibility of universal salvation, it is clear that many Christians would be sorely disappointed if everyone were saved. They take as their model the Elder Brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Augustine and Time
But what fascinates me most about Augustine is his thoughts on time. A few years ago the Scientific American devoted an entire issue to time; is it real? Illusory? What is it? Does is always move in only one direction? Or can it move in the other direction? If not, why not? The issue concluded that the most profound thought on the nature of time was Augustine’s, and he regarded time as a mystery.
Does the past exist? But everything we know is in the past. Even the sensations of our own body take time to reach our brains. Light from the planets takes minutes to reach us, from the stars years, from the galaxies millions or billions of years. They all could have ceased to exist a million years ago, and we would not know it. If the past does not exist, then we know nothing of the present.
Time and space a creatures of God. Are their properties absolute? Can they, will they, be changed? Open theology fails to see that time exists in God, not God in time.
Can God change the past? What would that mean? He has promised to make all things new. Does that include space and time? Can he, will he, change the past? What would be the meaning of the struggles and sorrows of creation?
Reading Augustine forces one to struggle with some of the profoundest themes of theology and philosophy. It is Cross Fitness Training for the mind.
Augustine and Anglicanism
Augustine is many-sided; and two of those sides may be of special interest to those who worship in the Anglican tradition.
Augustine was above all the Doctor of Love. He examined the human heart and saw that disordered love was the cause of our alienation from God. We do not love as we ought, and therefore our lives are not what they should be.
A moment’s refection should convince us that our loves are disordered. We desire food: but how many of us struggle to eat only what and how much we should; and a handful (anorexics) do not eat enough. Our sexual desires are disordered; we desire those whom we should not desire, or do not desire our spouses enough and in the right way or desire pleasure detached from personal communion in holy matrimony. Wealth, reputation, comfort, knowledge – all good things in themselves – we desire in the wrong way.
And so the priest prays:
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secretes are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name.
What should we desire above all else? “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until we rest in Thee.”
And what does God command us:
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.
THOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
So love is the center of God’s revelation.
Those who love are filled with unspeakable sorrow if they have injured the one they love. What must a parent feel, if he has even by accident killed his child!
And so our hearts are burdened by the thought that we have sought to injure the One who loves us, that indeed we have crucified Him.
ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life.
Therefore to my ear the Anglican use has an Augustinian flavor or emphasis; such things are not absent from the Ordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy, but the Anglican Use makes them more prominent.
PS. Someone just posted this quote from Martin Thornton’s English Spirituality:
“Grace to Augustine is that love which lies at the heart of his spirituality; it is that which, by its very nature, confers independence on the object of its love. It gives, compelling no return, it is the one force that cannot bargain, it is the opposite of irresistible passion, for it liberates rather than enslaves, creates not destroy, strengthens rather than weakens free volition: in more familiar language, ‘the service of God is perfect freedom.’ What Augustine is insisting upon is the first principle of all sound theology, that God acts first in both creation and redemption, and that his love is the force behind both. We are called to respond to that love, but because of frailty response is difficult, because of concupiscence we are drawn to other, unworthy objects of love. Therefore we need discipline, especially the disciplines of prayer: ascetical theology is the technique of loving God.”
Today is the feast of St. Monica, the patron of all parents who are worried about their children, that is, almost all parents.
The Catholic Herald summarizes the story:
St Monica was born in 331 and is believed to have been of Berber origin. She married a pagan known as Patricius who was prone to violence and annoyed by Monica’s charity and pious habits.
Monica bore three children; Navigius, Perpetua and Augustine. When Augustine fell ill, Monica was greatly distressed because Augustine, like the rest of her children, was not baptised. She begged her husband to allow her to baptise Augustine and he agreed but then withdrew consent once Augustine had recovered.
Following Augustine’s recovery, he became lazy and wayward and was eventually sent to a school in Madauras. He was 17 and studying rhetoric in the city of Carthage when his father died.
During his time at Carthage Augustine became a Manichaean, a follower of a religion founded by the Iranian prophet Mani. Monica was so upset that she sent Augustine away but relented when she experienced a vision, encouraging her to reconcile with him.
St Monica visited a bishop [St. Ambrose] to discuss her concerns about Augustine and he told her: “The child of those tears shall never perish.”
Monica followed Augustine to Rome but when she arrived discovered that he had gone to Milan. She persevered and followed her son to the city, where she met St Ambrose and to her joy discovered that Augustine had embraced Christianity after 17 years of resisting the faith.
Monica and Augustine spent six months in serenity at Rus Cassiciacum (now known as Cassago Brianza) and Augustine was then baptised in the church of St John the Baptist in Milan. When in 387 St Monica died, her son’s grief inspired him to write his famous book Confessions.
Augustine’s body was lost when the city of Hippo where he was bishop was overrun by the Vandals. However, Monica’s body is still preserved in the basilica of S. Agostino in Rome.
The Basilica of St. Augustine in Rome
Several years ago my wife and I were visiting the basilica to pray at her tomb for one of our children who was having a severe crisis. As we left, we encountered on the steps a begging gypsy woman holding a baby (probably borrowed). She knew quite well that any parent leaving the basilica would have a tender heart for children and would open his wallet, which I of course did. I rather liked the gypsy beggars in Rome; they were all dressed a gypsies should be, and I suspect were hired by the city government from central casting to give an authentic flavor to the city.
The Altar that contains the body of St. Monica
Someone has written a Litany of St. Monica:
St. Monica, pray for us and for our children.
Model of wives, pray for us and for our children.
You who converted your unbelieving husband, Mother of St. Augustine, pray for us and for our children.
Strict and prudent teacher, guardian of your son in all his ways, pray for us and for our children.
You who carefully watched over his conduct, pray for us and for our children.
You who were sorely distressed at his erring from the right, pray for us and for our children.
You who were untiring in your petitions for his soul’s safety, pray for us and for our children.
You who still hoped on amid the bitterness of your heart and your floods of tears, pray for us and for our children.
You who were filled with consolation upon his return to God, pray for us and for our children.
You who died calmly after faithfully fulfilling your duties, pray for us and for our children.
You who are the prayerful intercessor of all mothers who pray and weep as you did, pray for us and for our children.
Preserve the innocence of our children, we beseech you, St. Monica.
Protect them against the deceits of evil men, we beseech you, St. Monica.
Protect them from the dangers of bad example, we beseech you, St. Monica.
Watch over the movements of grace in their hearts.
Let the Christian virtues strike deep root in their hearts and bear much fruit.
Redouble your intercession for youth approaching manhood.
Obtain for all in mortal sin true contrition and perfect conversion.
Obtain for all mothers to fulfill their duties steadily and perseveringly.
Commend all mothers to the protection of the ever-blessed Virgin Mother of Our Lord.
Favorably incline the heart of your beloved son Augustine to the salvation of our children.
St. Augustine, holy son of a saintly mother, pray for us and for our children.
The Feast of Anna and Joachim
There is also a charming image of the kiss of Ann and Joachim at the Golden Gate.
Here are Joachim and Ann with the new-born Mary in swaddling clothes.
Another was modeled after the icon of The Mother of God Sweet-Kissing, Mary is shown tenderly embracing Ann.
Ann was frequently show holding Mary who was holding Jesus.
I like the image of Joachim holding his daughter; again, based on the icon of The Mother of God Sweet-Kissing.
Isil knifemen ‘shouted Daesh and slit priest’s throat’ in Normandy after taking nuns hostage in church as doctor is shot at German clinic
‘Islamic State’ Chanting Attackers ‘Behead’ Priest During Morning Mass In France
The Democrats accurately point out that overall violence is decreasing; they can’t understand why Trump’s warnings have resonance in the electorate.
I suspect there are three causes.
Social media instantaneously gives us the news and the gore: videos of police violence, a dead child in the streets of Nice, policemen under attack.
Much of the violence is directed against the institutions and traditions that hold society together: police, priests, Bastille Day celebrations, the Boston Marathon.
Violence can occur anywhere (rural Normandy at a weekday mass!) We cannot feel safe anywhere.
The martyred priest, Jacques Hamel
The Democrats try to brush off anxiety about violence off as unreasonable; they tell Americans that they should be worried about the real danger: global warming.
In a new interview published in The Atlantic magazine, President Obama says he is more worried about climate change than the terrorist group ISIS.
“ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States,” he told Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg. “Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.”
In France the Socialist Prime Minister has this consolation:
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated, “We would like to tell the French people that we will never give in. We will not give in to the terrorist threat. The times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism.”
Terrorism is the new normal, and they will just have to get used to it, because the Socialists will do nothing effective to prevent it (not even coordinating the intelligence and security services).
It is a great consolation as one’s throat is being cut that the government is focused on global warming. Somehow I don’t think the electorate is going to accept this, and will turn to those who promise to end the violence (although the cure may end up being worse than the disease).
UPDATE: The Breath-Taking Incompetence of the Socialist Government:
One of the Normandy church murderers was a convicted terrorist who was meant to be living with his parents with an electronic tag on his ankle, according to security sources.
The astonishing revelation – made to the French TV news channel I-Tele – well cause further outrage in a country devastated by constant security failings.
Two attackers were shot dead by police commandos during the siege at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray this morning, and their identities are already known to the authorities.
One, who lived close to the church, is said to have left for Syria in 2015 to try and join Islamic State, but he was arrested in Turkey.
He was jailed for terrorist offences following a short trial in France, before being released on March 2nd this year.
But this did not stop him becoming involved in today’s atrocity, in which Father Jacques Hamel, 86, had his throat cut.
Neither of the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray attackers have yet been named.
French security services have been regularly criticised for the way they allow known terrorists their freedom after being found guilty of crimes.
The church where a priest was killed after having his throat cut by two knife-wielding hostage-takers was on the ‘kill list’ of a suspected ISIS terrorist arrested last year.
The two attackers entered the Church of the Gambetta at around 9.45am local time (8.45am UK time) during morning prayers and took a priest, two nuns and two worshippers hostage.
Parish priest Jacques Hamel was killed and a worshipper is fighting for life after being attacked before police shot the two knifemen dead.
It has since emerged Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, – who was arrested in Paris last April – had the name of the church in a series of documents believed to be related to the planning of terror attacks.
Enculturation can be a free-lance enterprise. In the 18th century, Catholic missionaries would circulate among the native peoples of far southern South America and get to a settlement perhaps once a year or less. One group of these peoples was the Mapuche. They liked baptism.
Since priests presented them with gifts on the occasion of baptism, Mapuche parents found it advantageous to have their children baptized repeatedly, and, with passage of time, Mapuches came to think of baptism as an admapu – an ancestral custom.
But the Mapuche, although they liked the gifts, felt sorry for the missionaries who had to make exhausting and dangerous journeys to baptize. One Mapuche came up with a solution:
he asked “if it would suffice to baptize their penises, then all of their future children would be baptized and with this they [the Franciscans] would not have to tire themselves in travelling to Indian lands every year to baptize the little ones.” (David Weber Bárbaros)
The Franciscans thought the Mapuches were “poorly instructed,” unlike, presumably, the Spanish who managed to incorporate aggressive war and slavery into their religious system (despite the efforts of King and Pope).
British men, like Western men in general, find church an alien environment. Clive Fields summarizes the results of recent surveys:
Although most men have visited a church within the past two years, principally for a rite of passage, it is apparently not a place in which they feel entirely at ease, in comparison with other environments which were enquired about. The latter even included ladies underwear shops, where many men said they would feel more relaxed than in a place of worship.
Only 20% of men said they would feel very comfortable in church, with 41% uncomfortable. There were significant variations by age, with 58% of the 18-24 year-olds feeling uncomfortable in church but 22% of the over-65s. Even among professing Christians, 41% of 18-24 year-olds feel uncomfortable in church.
Hymn-singing partly explains male discomfort about attending a church service. 48% have an aversion to singing hymns, with still bigger numbers of the young and those with no religious affiliation.
However, there is also discomfort about singing in public more generally, such as in public houses (60%) and at parties (52%). Only in the privacy of the shower (83%) and alone in the car (86%) do men feel totally relaxed about exercising their vocal chords.
I happen to like singing hymns (depending on the hymn – no On Eagle’s Wings, thank you). But perhaps British churches should concentrate on choirs.
“Through the envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.”
The Wisdom of Solomon
He was a rapper trying to stop violence in Baltimore. Tyriece Travon Watson, better known as Lor Scoota, had just finished hosting a charity basketball game. The fliers advertising the event had said, “Pray for peace in these streets.” Music artists and important faces from around the city had come together to prove they could get along.
Lor Scoota got in his car and left the arena. Bringing peace to Baltimore was a message he had been trying to spread — on panels, in classrooms and in his music.
“How I’m supposed to live with all this death in my sight?” the 23-year-old had once sung.
Lor Scoota was about a mile away from the arena when he was shot and killed.
Baltimore police said the rapper was driving east at 6:56 p.m. Saturday when an unknown black male wearing a white bandanna stepped into the street and opened fire into Lor Scoota’s car. He was transported to an area hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly after. Homicide detectives are investigating the shooting as a targeted attack.
Why did someone kill Lor Scoota? A friend suspected why:
“In Baltimore city, once you’re doing good, you’re a target. Nobody wants to see you doing better than they are doing,” he said. “You try to make it to the top, they’re pulling you down so you still here. That’s why they say once you do your thing, leave.”
Much of the violence in Baltimore is fueled by a cult of honor. Young black men will not tolerate being dissed. Their reputation for violence is all that protects them. They follow this version of the psalm: “Yea, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for I am the meanest son-of-a-bitch in the valley.”
But apparently something else is at work too: envy. People do not want to see other people succeed. They are sad and resentful at another’s good. Peasant communities are afflicted with it, and so apparently is the ghetto.
Baltimore has been climbing back out of its decline. The Inner Harbor is being edged with luxury housing and some older neighborhoods are being spiffed up. All this provides new jobs and new revenue for the city to use in providing better education and social services. But several residents I spoke to thought that the contrast of prosperity with the decay and failure of poor neighborhoods had provoked envy and a desire to destroy the successful, and was one of the causes of the riot. Envy too may have been the motive for the murder of Lor Scoota.
Certain politicians try to appeal to envy by denouncing income inequality and cultivating a resentment against the successful. It is an unwise strategy, according to the Wisdom of Solomon.
Trump and his Boss
The right in America is home to a number of paranoid conspiracy theories, as the mainstream media are quick to point out. My favorite is that the world is secretly run by flesh-eating green space lizards disguised as humans, although I am not sure if that qualifies as a rightist conspiracy theory. (It might explain Donald Trump; the lizards didn’t quite get human color and hair right.)
But the soi-disant “rational,” “science-based” left is also a Petri dish for breeding paranoid conspiracy theories. However such theories, or at least their theorists, are generally given a pass, on the general principle of no enemies to the Left.
Pamela Newkirk gives a favorable review in the Washington Post to White Rage by Carol Anderson, a professor of African American history at Emory University. Anderson documents undoubted cases of oppression of blacks, but then starts seeing mysterious shadows.
Her most explosive allegation is that at a time when marijuana use was down, and cocaine, heroin and hallucinogen use was declining or leveling off, Reagan’s National Security Council and CIA “manufactured and facilitated” a drug crisis and were complicit in flooding African American communities with crack. She says the administration’s shielding of Colombian drug traffickers “actively allowed cocaine imports to the United States to skyrocket 50 percent within three years. . . . Soon crack was everywhere, kicking the legs out from under black neighborhoods,” she writes.
“The Reagan administration’s protection of drug traffickers escalated further when the CIA received approval from the Department of Justice in 1982 to remain silent about any key agency ‘assets’ that were involved in the manufacturing, transportation, or sale of narcotics,” she adds.
I see, the Federal government, presumably under both Republican and Democratic administration, has been aiding and abetting the sale of drugs to African Americans. This is what everyone else calls the War on Drugs and which many criticize for its uselessness.
The New York Time’s review fails to mention this interesting part of Anderson’s thesis.
I remember Cynthia McKinney, Democratic black women Representative who after 9-11 claimed that Bush had deliberately facilitated the whole affair. As Wikipedia summarizes:
McKinney gained national attention for remarks she made following the 2001 US attacks, charging that the United States had advance knowledge of the attacks and that George W. Bush may have been aware of the incipient attack and allowed them to happen, allegedly due to his father’s business interests: “It is known that President Bush’s father, through The Carlyle Group, had–at the time of the attacks–joint business interests with the bin Laden construction company and many defense industry holdings, the stocks of which have soared since September 11.”
But of course, this is not an evidence of paranoia, because as is well known everything blacks claim must be true, or at least must not be contradicted, because they have a privileged position as The Oppressed.
Political correctness trumps rationality for the Left.
PS McKinney is palsy with “David Icke, a man best known for believing that the world is run by a secret cabal of shapeshifting reptilian aliens.”