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Trinity Daily Prayer

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Office Hymns for Michaelmas: find the Warrior Primate!

The angels have been a major part of our work at Trinity. We asked the children what they wanted to call the houses when we introduced the system and they chose the Archangels (so we have Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and the somewhat non-Biblical Zadkiel); when we moved into our new building the children chose as the dedication of the chapel 'The Holy Angels'.

Hymns for Prayer and Praise has a fine set of hymns including one by James Quinn for Mid-Day Prayer. I am normally fairly apologetic about the texts provided by Aelred-Seton Shanley, but this one really works:

You who pierce the dazzling darkness,
clothed in light and robed in flame,
rad'iant in the Holy glory
of the One whom you proclaim:
ceaseless in your rounds of worship
of the awesome, nameless Name:

Yours the 'Glorias' that echoed
on the night that saw Christ's birth:
yours the tidings to the shepherds
when God's Word took flesh on earth;
yours the message given to Mary
which revealed God's love - our worth.

You embraced our Saviour's anguish
through Gethsemane's long night;
standing helpless to defend him,
as he overruled your might:
dumbstruck when the pall of darkness
quenched the Sun who gave you light.

Michael, guard of heaven's threshold,
just defender at each death,
be the prosecutor's downfall
as you plead our second birth;
clothed in Christ - his light our armour,
pilot us to heaven's berth.

Gabriel, who bear God's greeting,
to all those who strain to hear;
your's the word that, borne in silence,
to the silent heart draws near:
fragrant burns the evening incense
in the temple you appear.

Raphael, who guided Tobit,
plying your physician's art:
be companion on our journey
pointing out where roads must part.
Lead us safely through life's dangers
to the stronghold of God's heart.

Energies of blinding splendour
- vaster than the nebulae -
singing ceaselessly your 'sanctus'
through the flux of night and day:
school us now for that great glory
to which heav'n and earth give way.

I do like Athelstan Riley's:

Christ, the fair glory of the holy angels,
thou who hast made us, thou who o'er us rulest,
grant of thy mercy unto us thy servants
steps up to heaven.

Send thine archangel Michael to our succour;
peacemaker blessèd, may he banish from us
striving and hatred, so that for the peaceful
all things may prosper.

Send thine archangel Gabriel, the mighty;
herald of heaven, may he, from us mortals,
spurn the old serpent, watching o'er the temples
where thou art worshiped.

Send thine archangel Raphael, the restorer
of the misguided ways of men who wander,
who at thy bidding strengthens soul and body
with thine anointing.

May the blest mother of our God and Saviour,
may the assembly of the saints in glory,
may the celestial companies of angels
ever assist us.

Father Almighty, Son, and Holy Spirit,
God ever blessèd, be thou our preserver;
thine is the glory which the angels worship,
veiling their faces.

The English Hymnal has this by Rabanus Maurus, given the choosing of a new Primate for All England this week it seems very apt:

Thee, O Christ, the Father’s splendour,
Life and virtue of the heart,
In the presence of the angels
Sing we now with tuneful art,
Meetly in alternate chorus,
Bearing our responsive part.

Thus we praise with veneration
All the armies of the sky;
Chiefly him, the warrior primate,
Of celestial chivalry,
Michael, who in princely virtue
Cast Abaddon from on high.

By whose watchful care repelling—
King of everlasting grace—
Every ghostly adversary,
All things evil, all things base,
Grant us of Thine only goodness,
In Thy paradise a place.

Laud and honour to the Father,
Laud and honour to the Son,
Laud and honour to the Spirit,
Ever Three, and ever One,
Consubstantial, co-eternal,
While unending ages run.

And J.M. Neale's translation of St Joseph the Hymnographer's hymn is irresistible, 'still let them succour us, still let them fight'!:

Stars of the morning, so gloriously bright,

filled with celestial splendour and light,
these that, where night never followeth day,
raise the Trisagion ever and aye.

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

These keep the guard amidst Salem's dear 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, "the cure of God," 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 sons of God shouted for joy.

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

Fr Faber's hymn is deliriously sweet; I once used at at daily Compline on a parish pilgrimage to Walsingham as the Office Hymn at Compline, the chorus brought tears to the assembly; this I would like sung at my graveside:

Hark! hark, my soul! angelic songs are swelling,

O’er earth’s green fields and ocean’s wave-beat shore:
How sweet the truth those blessèd strains are telling
Of that new life when sin shall be no more.
Angels of Jesus, angels of light,
Singing to welcome the pilgrims of the night!

Darker than night life’s shadows fall around us,
And like benighted men we miss our mark:
God hides Himself, and grace hath scarcely found us,
E’er death finds out his victims in the dark.

Far, far away, like bells at evening pealing,
The voice of Jesus sounds o’er land and sea;
And laden souls, by thousands meekly stealing,
Kind Shepherd, turn their weary steps to Thee.

Onward we go, for still we hear them singing,
“Come, weary souls, for Jesus bids you come”;
And through the dark, its echoes sweetly ringing,
The music of the Gospel leads us home.

Rest comes at length: though life be long and dreary,
The day must dawn, and darksome night be past;
Faith’s journeys end in welcome to the weary,
And Heaven, the heart’s true home, will come at last.

Cheer up, my soul! faith’s moonbeams softly glisten
Upon the breast of life’s most troubled sea,
And it will cheer thy drooping heart to listen
To those brave songs which angels mean for thee.

Angels, sing on, your faithful watches keeping;
Sing us sweet fragments of the songs above,
Till morning’s joy shall end the night of weeping,
And life’s long shadows

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