OREMUS: 14 December 2004

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Mon Dec 13 20:06:16 GMT 2004

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OREMUS for Tuesday, December 14, 2004
John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher of the Faith, 1591

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, God of mercy and might!
You offer to your Church these holy days of Advent
to revive and sustain us in hope,
that we may walk as children of light, ever watchful,
and come at last to your eternal kingdom
where your Son, Jesus Christ reigns in peace.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 137:1-6

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept,*
 when we remembered you, O Zion.
As for our harps, we hung them up*
 on the trees in the midst of that land.
For those who led us away captive asked us for a song,
   and our oppressors called for mirth:*
 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'
How shall we sing the Lord's song*
 upon an alien soil?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,*
 let my right hand forget its skill.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
   if I do not remember you,*
 if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

Psalm 138

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;*
 before the gods I will sing your praise.
I will bow down towards your holy temple
   and praise your name,*
 because of your love and faithfulness;
For you have glorified your name*
 and your word above all things.
When I called, you answered me;*
 you increased my strength within me.
All the kings of the earth will praise you, O Lord,*
 when they have heard the words of your mouth.
They will sing of the ways of the Lord,*
 that great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord be high, he cares for the lowly;*
 he perceives the haughty from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
   you keep me safe;*
 you stretch forth your hand
   against the fury of my enemies;
   your right hand shall save me.
The Lord will make good his purpose for me;*
 O Lord, your love endures for ever;
   do not abandon the works of your hands.

A Song of God's Herald (Isaiah 40:9-11)

Go up to a high mountain,
herald of good tidings to Zion;
lift up your voice with strength,
herald of good tidings to Jerusalem.

Lift up your voice, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God!'

See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him.

Behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.

God will feed his flock like a shepherd,
and gather the lambs in his arms;

He will carry them in his breast,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Psalm 146

   Praise the Lord, O my soul!*
 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers,
   nor in any child of earth,*
 for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth,*
 and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob
   for their help!*
 whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas,
   and all that is in them;*
 who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,*
 and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
   the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;*
 the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous;
   the Lord cares for the stranger;*
 he sustains the orphan and widow,
   but frustrates the way of the wicked.
The Lord shall reign for ever,*
 your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

READING [Luke 1:57-66,80]:

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she
bore a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the
Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced
with her.
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and
they were going to name him Zechariah after his father.
But his mother said, 'No; he is to be called John.' They
said to her, 'None of your relatives has this name.' Then
they began motioning to his father to find out what name
he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing-tablet and
wrote, 'His name is John.' And all of them were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed,
and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all
their neighbours, and all these things were talked about
throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who
heard them pondered them and said, 'What then will this
child become?' For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in
the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to

For another Biblical reading,
1 Kings 17:17-24

Words: Carl P. Daw. Jr. (c) 
Tune: Noel
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Blest be the God of Israel
who comes to set us free
and raises new hope for us:
a Branch from David's tree.
So have the prophets long declared
that with a mighty arm
God would turn back our enemies
and all who wish us harm.

With promised mercy will God still
the covenant recall:
the oath once sworn to Abraham,
from foes to save us all;
that we might worship without fear
and offer lives of praise,
in holiness and righteousness
before God all our days.

My child, as prophet of the Lord,
you will prepare the way,
to tell God's people they are saved
from sin's eternal sway.
Then shall God's mercy from on high
shine forth and never cease
to drive away the gloom of death
and lead us into peace.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Let us turn our eyes to the Lord of glory
and enthrone him on our praises, saying: 
Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, servant of God,
you bring justice to the peoples: 
Lord, have mercy.

You love your people
with a faithful love:
Lord, have mercy.

You were lifted up on the cross
that you might draw all people to yourself:
Lord, have mercy.

You bring hope and joy
to those who walk in the valley and shadow of death:
Lord, have mercy.

You have liberated us
so that we might be free for ever:
Lord, have mercy.

You, O Christ, are our justice,
our peace and our redemption:
Lord, have mercy.

We pray for your Church, especially the Diocese of
Kolhapur, North India, The Rt Revd Bathuel Ramchandra Tiwade, Bishop.

God of power and mercy, 
you call us once again to celebrate the coming of your Son: 
Remove those things which hinder love of you, 
that when he comes, he may find us waiting in awe and wonder 
for him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Almighty God, 
who taught us by the lips of your Son 
that through the narrow gate 
we shall find entrance to the kingdom: 
Grant that by the example of your servant John of the Cross, 
we may be ready to enter darkness 
before beholding the light of your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Awaiting his coming in glory,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Kindle in us the fire of your Spirit
that when your Christ comes again
we may shine as lights before him. Amen.

The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray),
(c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving is adapted by Stephen Benner from
_We Give You Thanks and Praise: The Ambrosian Eucharistic
Prefaces_, translated by Alan Griffiths, (c) The Canterbury Press
Norwich, 1999.

Hymn (c) 1989 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL  60188.  
All rights reserved.  Used by permission.
For permission to reproduce this hymn, contact:  Hope Publishing Company,

The first collect is from _The Book of Alternative Services of The
Anglican Church of Canada_.

The second collect is from _The Proper for the Lesser Feasts and
Fasts_, 3rd Edition, (c) 1980, The Church Pension Fund.

The closing prayer is adapted from a prayer from _Common Worship:
Services and Prayers for the Church of England_, material from which is
included in this service is copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

Juan de Ypres y Alvarez was born in 1542. His father died soon after, and Juan
was brought up in an orphanage. (His father was probably Jewish. It is
remarkable how many of the most memorable Spanish Christians have been of
Jewish background.) At seventeen, he enrolled as a student in a Jesuit college,
and at twenty-one, he joined the Carmelite Friars. He was ordained in 1567,
and almost immediately met Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite Nun who was
undertaking to return the Order to its original strict rule, which had been
gradually relaxed to the detriment, as she believed, of the spiritual lives of the
members of the Order. Those who followed the strict rule as promulgated by
Teresa went barefoot or wore sandals instead of shoes, and so became known
as Discalced (unshod) Carmelites, or Carmelites of the Strict Observance. John
undertook to adopt the stricter rule and encourage others to do so.
Not all members of the order welcomed the change. In 1577 a group of Calced
Carmelites, or Carmelites of the Ancient Observance, kidnapped John and
demanded that he renounce the reform. When he refused, he was imprisoned in
complete darkness and solitude in a Calced monastery in Toledo for about nine
months. He then escaped and fled to a Calced monastery. While imprisoned at
Toledo, he had begun to compose some poems, and now he wrote them down,
with commentaries on their spiritual significance.
He was given various positions of leadership among the reformed friars, but
then dissension broke out among the reformers between "moderates" and
"extremists." John supported the moderate party, and when the extremists
gained control, they denounced him as a traitor to the reform. He was sent to a
remote friary, and fell ill, and finally died at Ubeda during the night preceding
14 December 1591.
His poems include:
The Dark Night of The Soul (about the experience of spiritual desolation, of
feeling abandoned and rejected by God, and why this is for some Christians a
means by which God increases our faith in Him; about the Christian walk, the
life of prayer and contemplation, and growing in love and grace)
The Ascent of Mount Carmel (same poem as the preceding, but with a
different commentary attached)
The Spiritual Canticle (about the love between the Christian and Christ as
symbolized by the love between bride and groom; draws heavily upon the
imagery of the Song of Solomon)
The Living Flame of Love (about the soul transformed by grace)
His works have been translated into English by David Lewis (1906), and by E.
Allison Peers (1953). His poems have been translated by Roy Campbell and are
available in Penguin paperback. The following extracts are quoted from the
poetic translation by Peers.

>From The Spiritual Canticle:

   Whither hast vanished
     Beloved, and hast left me full of woe,
   And like the hart hast sped,
      Wounding, ere thou didst go,
      Thy love, who follow'd, crying high and low? ...

   Oh that my griefs would end!
      Come, grant me thy fruition full and free!
   And henceforth do thou send
      No messenger to me,
      For none but thou my comforter can be. ...

   My love is as the hills,
      The lonely valleys clad with forest-trees,
   The rushing, sounding rills,
      Strange isles in distant seas,
      Lover-like whisperings, murmurs of the breeze.

   My love is hush-of-night,
      Is dawn's first breathings in the heav'n above,
   Still music veiled from sight,
      Calm that can echoes move,
      The feast that brings new strength--the feast of love ...

   Rare gifts he scattered
      As through these woods and groves he pass'd apace
   Turning, as on he sped,
      And clothing every place
      With loveliest reflection of his face. ...

   The creatures, all around,
      Speak of thy graces as I pass them by.
   Each deals a deeper wound
      And something in their cry
      Leaves me so raptur'd that I fain would die.

from The Living Flame of Love:

   O Living flame of love
      That, burning, dost assail
         My inmost soul with tenderness untold,
   Since thou dost freely move,
      Deign to consume the veil
         Which sunders this sweet converse that we hold ...

   And O, ye lamps of fire,
      In whose resplendent light
         The deepest caverns where the senses meet,
   Erst steeped in darkness dire,
      Blaze with new glories bright
         And to the loved one give both light and heat!

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