Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saint John the Evangelist

December 27 is the feast day of Saint John the Evangelist, apostle and Gospel writer. Originally he had to share it with Saint James the Greater but before long he got the day to himself.

Saint John is not one of these disciples (like Bartholomew or Jude) that almost nothing is known about; he appears in many of the stories of Jesus' ministry, and is sometimes called "the beloved disciple." He remained at the cross during the Crucifixion, and took Mary, the mother of Jesus, into his home afterward.

Unlike most of the other apostles, he was not martyred, returning to Ephesus after exile in Greece. In art he is frequently depicted with an eagle. Modern scholars disagree on exactly what parts of the New Testament he wrote (maybe/ maybe not the Book of Revelation) but he retains credit for his own Gospel.

Come sing, ye choirs exultant,
Those messengers of God,
Through whom the living Gospels
Came sounding all abroad!
In one harmonious witness
The chosen four combine,
While each his own commission
Fulfills in ev'ry line.

As, in the prophet's vision,
From out the amber flame
In form of visage diverse
Four living creatures came;
Lo, these the fourfold river
Of paradise above,
Whence flow for all earth's people
New mysteries of love.

Praise for the loved disciple,
Exiled on Patmos' shore;
Praise for the faithful record
He to thy Godhead bore;
Praise for the mystic vision,
Through John to us revealed;
May we, in patience waiting,
In thine own heart be sealed.

Adam of St. Victor, c.1170;

tr. Jackson Mason, 1889; alt. (v.1 & 2)
Horatio Bolton Nelson, 1864; alt. (v.3)
English traditional melody;
arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906

This continues (and concludes) the Evangelists' hymn I have used throughout this year; you can see the prior ones for St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke.

1 comment:

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Well, credit for most of his own gospel, anyhow, and of course this would be disputed by most higher-critically enabled textual scholars. Like ascribing the Pentateuch to Moses (though the narrative includes Moses' own death and burial), ascribing John to John runs up against John 21:24, which says "We know that his testimony is true" which looks like an odd (and self-serving) thing for an author to include in his own book. Smacks of vanity publishing.

I think most textual scholars would be more inclined to accept the possibility that John was written by someone whose regarded his historical information about Jesus as coming (ultimately) from John, rather than that it was written by John himself.

Thanks for the hymn.

Leland aka Haruo