Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saint Michael and All Angels

Today is The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, also called Michaelmas. Four of the most well-known archangels are pictured above, Michael (second from the left, holding his spear over the dragon), Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, in a window from the church of St. Michael and All Angels in Hughenden, England. At the lectionary link above you can read about those four as well as the nine established orders, or choirs, of angels, most of which are referenced in today's hymn (see if you can tell which are left out!). John Mason Neale translated this hymn from the original Greek text of Saint Joseph the Hymnographer.

Stars of the morning, so gloriously bright,
Filled with celestial splendor and light,
These that, where night never followeth day,
Raise the "Thrice Holy” song ever and aye.

These are thy ministers, these dost thou own,
God of creation, the nearest thy throne;
These are thy messengers, these dost thou send,
Help of the helpless ones! us to defend.

These keep the guard 'midst Jerusalem's bowers,
Thrones, Principalities, Virtues and Powers,
Where, with the Living Ones, mystical Four,
Cherubim, Seraphim, bow and adore.

“Who like the Lord?” thunders Michael the chief;
Raphael, God's healing pow'r, comforteth grief;
And, as at Nazareth, prophet of peace,
Gabriel, the light of God, bringeth release.

Then, when the earth was first poised in mid space,
Then, when the planets first sped on their race,
Then, when were ended the six days’ employ,
Then all the angel choirs shouted for joy.

Still let them succor us; still let them fight,
God of angelic hosts, battling for right;
Till, where their anthems they ceaselessly pour,
We with the angels may bow and adore.

St. Joseph the Hymnographer, 9th cent.
tr. John Mason Neale, 1862; alt.
Henry T. Smart, 1868

This tune by Henry Smart, written for this text in the 1868 revision of Hymns Ancient and Modern, is named for the Trisagion, the "thrice holy" song referenced in the last line of the first stanza.

One Year Ago: Saint Michael and All Angels


Leland Bryant Ross said...

I like it! Now that my Shepherd Hymn-Sing is pretty much a fait accompli, I'm looking forward to planning Evergreen Hymn-Sing #3, and one of the possible topics I have been mulling over is "Angels and Demons, Sinners and Saints" (the other two that I've been seriously thinking of are "War & Peace" and "Text Messages"), and if I decide to go with it I will definitely include this one in the playlist.

C.W.S. said...

I like it too, though I have to admit it's a bit dated, stylistically. No one would actually let me put it in a hymnal. And, to be fair, I don't generally think that hymns should require footnotes, and I think this one might!

Are there many hymns about "demons"? (there is the Troeger, but I admit we usually snicker at it, just a bit)

Leland Bryant Ross said...

We sang the Troeger a few months ago, but to EBENEZER (aka TON-Y-BOTEL), which makes it quite a different experience from AUTHORITY. I will admit I can't, off the top of my head, think of many other demon hymns, though there are some good devil ones (if "good devil" may stand). Speaking of the power of alternate tunes, I think Routley's choice of ES IST EIN' ROS' for "A stable lamp is lighted" works very well. I like ANDÚJAR, but have had trouble getting other Baptists to sing it with me.

Anonymous said...

very good!