Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Saint Michael and All Angels

A happy and blessed Michaelmas to all!  A few churches may have celebrated this feast on Sunday, but technically it falls today. There are many, many hymns about angels so we have not nearly run out.

Praise to God who reigns above,
Binding earth and heav’n in love;
All the armies of the sky
Worship God's great sovereignty.
Seraphim God's praises sing,
Cherubim on fourfold wing,
Thrones, dominions, princes, powers,
Marshaled might that never cowers.

Speeds th’archangel on his race,
Bearing messages of grace;
Angel hosts God's words fulfill,
Ruling nature by One will.
Yet on earth they joy to wait,
All that bright celestial state,
For in us their Ruler see,
Christ, th’incarnate deity.

Oh, the depths of joy divine,
Thrilling through those orders nine,
When the lost are found again,
When the banished come to reign!
Then, in faith, in hope, in love,
We will join the choirs above,
Praising, with the heav’nly host,
God and Christ and Holy Ghost.

Richard M. Benson, 1861; alt.
Jakob Hintze, 1678; harm. J. S. Bach (18th cent.)

Richard Meux Benson was a priest in the Church of England who founded the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, the first Anglican community of monks since the time of the Reformation. They were also known as the Cowley Fathers because their first community lived in Cowley in Oxfordshire.  The order spread to Scotland, Canada, the United States, India, South Africa, and Japan before dwindling in the twentieth century.  The UK branch finally closed down in 2012, but maintains a trust fund for the benefit of retired members.

The Society survives still in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a beautiful building on the banks of the Charles River. It seems unlikely that they would be singing Benson's hymn today but you never know.

Surprisingly, I have apparently only used the familiar tune SALZBURG once before in the last eight years.

Seven Years Ago: Around the throne of God a band

Six Years Ago: Stars of the morning, so gloriously bright

Five Years Ago: They are evermore around us

Three Years Ago: O Captain of God's host

One Year Ago: High on a hill of dazzling light

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