Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Favored of the Lord

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is sometimes at the center of worship on the last Sunday in Advent.  The story of the Annunciation, told in Luke 1:26-38 (subject of a separate feast day on March 25), describes the coming of the angel Gabriel to Mary to announce the birth of Christ.  Mary's agreement to bear this child sets events in motion to bring about the promised reign of God.

Today's anonymous hymn text was first published in a small collection called Hymns for the Festivals and Saints' Days of the Church of England in 1846.  Unlike many hymns of its day, the number of hymnals that include it has actually increased up to the present day.

Praise we the Lord this day,
This day so long foretold,
Whose promise shone with cheering ray
On waiting saints of old.

The prophet gave the sign
For faithful souls to read;
A virgin born of David’s line
Shall bear the promised seed.

Ask not how this should be,
But worship and adore,
Like her whom heaven’s majesty
Came down to shadow o’er.

Then Mary bowed her head
To hear the gracious word,
The maiden destined to become
The favored of the Lord.

Blessèd shall be her name
In all the Church on earth,
Through whom that wondrous mercy came,
Th'incarnate Savior’s birth.

O Jesus, Mary's son,
We praise thee and adore,
Who art with our Creator One
And Spirit evermore.

author unknown, 1846; alt.
Thomas Attwood Walmisley, 1853

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