Showing posts from December, 2014

The Feast of S. John the Evangelist: The flesh revealed Life itself

A treatise by St Augustine on the epistle of John
We announce what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have touched with our own hands. Who could touch the Word with his hands unless the Word was made flesh and lived among us?      Now this Word, whose flesh was so real that he could be touched by human hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary’s womb; but he did not begin to exist at that moment. We know this from what John says: What existed from the beginning. Notice how John’s letter bears witness to his Gospel, which you just heard a moment ago: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.      Someone might interpret the phrase the Word of life to mean a word about Christ, rather than Christ’s body itself which was touched by human hands. But consider what comes next: and life itself was revealed. Christ therefore is himself the Word of life.      And how was this life revealed? It existed from the beginning, bu…


I write on 17 December, which begins the eight-day count down to Christmas. Since the fourth century, the Church has marked these eight days with a set of eight sentences derived from Scripture known as the 'O' Antiphons. The Church of England suppressed them at the Reformation, but happily restored their use with the publication of the modern 'Common Worship' liturgy in 2000. They are now back in their proper place as antiphons or 'refrains' used this week at the Magnificat in Evening Prayer, and as the Alleluia verses before the Gospel at the Daily Eucharist.

The 'O' Antiphons are the verses for the ancient hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. They address Christ with seven Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies which foreshadowed Him. As such, they announce Jesus in turn as our Teacher, our Redeemer, our Liberator, our Guide, our Enlightener and our Saviour, ascending through the history of redemption.

You can find them on the Church of Eng…

Dear Lord and Father...

For those who haven't seen this one already:

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways,
for most of us, when asked our mind,
admit we still more pleasure find
in hymns of ancient days.

The simple lyrics, for a start,
of many a modern song
are far too trite to touch the heart,
enshrine no poetry, no art,
and go on much too long.

O for a rest from jollity
and syncopated praise!
What happened to tranquillity?
The silence of eternity
is hard to hear these days.

Send Thy deep hush, subduing all
those happy claps that drown
the tender whisper of Thy call.
Triumphalism is not all,
for sometimes we feel down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness
till all our strummings cease.
Take from our souls the strain and stress
of always having to be blessed.
Give us a bit of peace.

Breathe through the beats of praise guitar
Thy coolness and Thy balm.
Let drum be dumb, bring back the lyre,
enough of earthquake, wind and fire -
let's hear it for some calm.