Sunday, December 21, 2014

Be It According to Thy Word

On this fourth Sunday in Advent many churches hear the lesson of the Annunciation, Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel who brings news from God.  Mary famously says "yes" to God, perhaps more remarkably than we first realize for a young girl of no stature in her society, who would not have been able to make important decisions for herself.  And yet, she was chosen for this honor and agreed.

Today's hymn is by an old friend, Christopher Wordsworth, and comes from his collection The Holy Year (1865), containing appropriate hymns for each Sunday and major feast day of the church's liturgical year.  Originally published with twelve stanzas, I have brought it down to a more manageable four.

Today the angel comes, the same,
Who once of old to Daniel came;
Tidings of joy has Gabriel,
Tidings of thee, Emmanuel.

"Hail, highly favored! for of thee
Conceived and born a Child shall be,
Jesus our Savior, ever blest,
In human flesh made manifest."

"I am the servant of the Lord.
Be it according to thy word;"
With faith and forthright courage said
Mary, the highly favor

May we thy living Word receive,
Bring forth to life what we believe;
O come to us, and with us dwell,
And be our souls' Emmanuel.

Christopher Wordsworth, 1864; alt.
Tune: ANGELUS (L.M.)
Georg Joseph, 1657

While Gabriel's appearance to Mary is probably his most famous, he had previously visited Daniel in the eighth and ninth chapters of the Book of Daniel.

P.S. - The fifteenth-century painting below is The Annunciation by Filippo Lippi.

Six (Liturgical) Years Ago: Great Gabriel sped on wings of light

Five (Liturgical) Years Ago: Away! with loyal hearts and true

Two (Liturgical) Years Ago: Praise we the Lord this day

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