OREMUS: 26 October 2004

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Mon Oct 25 17:41:42 GMT 2004


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OREMUS for Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, Scholar, 899

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

Blessed are you, strong and faithful God.
You give us breath and speech,
that all the living might find a voice to sing your praise,
and to celebrate the creation you call good.
As a mother tenderly gathers her children,
as a father joyfully welcomes his own,
you embrace a people called as your own
and fill us with longing for a peace that will last
and a justice that will never fail.
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. 

http://www.oremus.org/ocan.html

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God,*
 and the firmament shows his handiwork.
One day tells its tale to another,*
 and one night imparts knowledge to another.
Although they have no words or language,*
 and their voices are not heard,
Their sound has gone out into all lands,*
 and their message to the ends of the world.
In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun;*
 it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
   it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
   and runs about to the end of it again;*
 nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect
   and revives the soul;*
 the testimony of the Lord is sure
   and gives wisdom to the innocent.
The statutes of the Lord are just
   and rejoice the heart;*
 the commandment of the Lord is clear
   and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean
   and endures for ever;*
 the judgements of the Lord are true
   and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
   more than much fine gold,*
 sweeter far than honey,
   than honey in the comb.
By them also is your servant enlightened,*
 and in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can tell how often he offends?*
 Cleanse me from my secret faults.
Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
   let them not get dominion over me;*
 then shall I be whole and sound,
   and innocent of a great offence.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable in your sight,*
 O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

A Song of the Wilderness (Isaiah 35.1,2b-4a,4c-6,10)

The wilderness and the dry land shall rejoice,
the desert shall blossom and burst into song.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weary hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to the anxious, 'Be strong, fear not,
your God is coming with judgement,
coming with judgement to save you.'

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

Then shall the lame leap like a hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;

The ransomed of the Lord shall return with singing,
with everlasting joy upon their heads.

Joy and gladness shall be theirs,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Psalm 146

Alleluia!
   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.
   Alleluia!

READING [Mark 9:33-37]:

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house
he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the way?'
But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with
one another about who was the greatest. He sat down,
called the twelve, and said to them, 'Whoever wants to be
first must be last of all and servant of all.' Then he
took a little child and put it among them; and taking it
in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever welcomes one such
child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me
welcomes not me but the one who sent me.'

For another Biblical reading,
Joel 3:9-16

HYMN 
Words: Washington Gladdem, 1880
Tune: Maryton
http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/o/o491.html
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O Master, let me walk with thee
in lowly paths of service free;
tell me thy secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care.

Help me the slow of heart to move
by some clear, winning word of love;
teach me the wayward feet to stay,
and guide them in the homeward way.

Teach me thy patience; still with thee
in closer, dearer company,
in work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
in trust that triumphs over wrong,

In hope that sends a shining ray
far down the future's broadening way,
in peace that only thou canst give,
with thee, O Master, let me live.

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

Prayer:
O God our Salvation, you are near to all who call:
hear and answer our prayers.

You are a refuge for the oppressed;
be our stronghold in troubled times.

You stand at the right hand of the needy;
rescue all who are wrongfully condemned.

You raise the poor from the dust;
restore dignity to those who seek refuge.

You give food to the hungry;
uphold the cause of the destitute.

You watch over those who wander and sustain the widow;
provide protection in the face of danger.

You heal the brokenhearted;
bind up the wounds of all who suffer.

You call us to be your Church,
send us out to do your will in the world.

You are a mighty God who loves justice;
establish your equity for all people.

Praise be to you, O Lord;
you hear and answer our prayers.

Gracious Creator of heaven and earth,
your Word has come among us
as the true Sun of Righteousness,
and the Good News of his birth
has gone out to the ends of the world:
Open our eyes to the light of your law,
that we may be freed from sin
and serve you without reproach
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Light and our Life. Amen.

God, our maker and redeemer,
we pray you of your great mercy
and by the power of your holy cross
to guide us by your will and to shield us from our foes:
that, after the example of your servant Alfred,
we may inwardly love you above all things;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

May the coming of Christ in glory find us
ever watchful in prayer,
strong in truth and love,
and faithful in the breaking of the bread.
Then, at last, all peoples will be free,
and all divisions healed. Amen.

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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 and the closing prayer use phrases from a prayer in
_Book of Common Worship_, (c) 1993 Westminster / John
Knox Press. 

The intercession is adapted by Stephen Benner from a prayer by Karen
Moshier Shenk and Rebecca J. Slough, in _MPH Bulletin_,
10/13/85, as adapted in _Words for Worship_; used by permission
of Herald Press.

The first collect is from _Daily Prayer_, copyright (c) The
Scottish Episcopal Church, 1998. Used with permission. 
http://www.scottishepiscopal.com

The second collect is 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.

When the Gospel was first preached in Britain, the island was inhabited by
Celtic peoples. In the 400's, pagan Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and
Jutes, invaded Britain and drove the Christian Celts out of what is now
England into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The new arrivals (called collectively
the Anglo-Saxons) were then converted by Celtic missionaries moving in from
the one side and Roman missionaries moving in from the other. (They then sent
missionaries of their own, such as Boniface, to their pagan relatives on the
Continent.)
In the 800's the cycle partly repeated itself, as the Christian Anglo-Saxons were
invaded by the Danes, pagan raiders, who rapidly conquered the northeast
portion of England. They seemed about to conquer the entire country and
eliminate all resistance when they were turned back by Alfred, King of the
West Saxons.
Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Berkshire, youngest of five sons of King
Aethelwulf. He wished to become a monk, but after the deaths (all in battle, I
think) of his father and his four older brothers, he was made king in 871. He
proved to be skilled at military tactics, and devised a defensive formation which
the Danish charge was unable to break. After a decisive victory at Edington in
878, he reached an agreement with the Danish leader Guthrum, by which the
Danes would retain a portion of northeastern England and be given other
concessions in return for their agreement to accept baptism and Christian
instruction. From a later point of view, it seems obvious that such a promise
could not involve a genuine change of heart, and was therefore meaningless
(and indeed, one Dane complained that the white robe that he was given after
his baptism was not nearly so fine as the two that he had received after the two
previous times that he had been defeated and baptized). However, Alfred's
judgement proved sound. Guthrum, from his point of view, agreed to become a
vassal of Christ. His nobles and chief warriors, being his vassals, were thereby
obligated to give their feudal allegiance to Christ as well. They accepted
baptism and the presence among them of Christian priests and missionaries to
instruct them. The door was opened for conversions on a more personal level
in that and succeeding generations.
In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his
people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done
to the cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius's Consolations of
Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the
Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury,
and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by
the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary
citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English
law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he
wrote:
"He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase
his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that
endless life where all shall be made clear."
He died on 26 October 899, and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester.
Alone among English monarchs, he is known as "the Great." [James Kiefer,
slightly abridged]


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