OREMUS: 14 December 2005

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Dec 13 17:00:00 GMT 2005

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OREMUS for Wednesday, December 14, 2005 
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 102

Lord, hear my prayer and let my cry come before you;*
 hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
Incline your ear to me;*
 when I call, make haste to answer me,
For my days drift away like smoke,*
 and my bones are hot as burning coals.
My heart is smitten like grass and withered,*
 so that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the voice of my groaning*
 I am but skin and bones.
I have become like a vulture in the wilderness,*
 like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake and groan;*
 I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.
My enemies revile me all day long,*
 and those who scoff at me
   have taken an oath against me.
For I have eaten ashes for bread*
 and mingled my drink with weeping.
Because of your indignation and wrath*
 you have lifted me up and thrown me away.
My days pass away like a shadow,*
 and I wither like the grass.
But you, O Lord, endure for ever,*
 and your name from age to age.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
   for it is time to have mercy upon her;*
 indeed, the appointed time has come.
For your servants love her very rubble,*
 and are moved to pity even for her dust.
The nations shall fear your name, O Lord,*
 and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the Lord will build up Zion,*
 and his glory will appear.
He will look with favour on the prayer of the homeless;*
 he will not despise their plea.
Let this be written for a future generation,*
 so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord.
For the Lord looked down from his holy place on high;*
 from the heavens he beheld the earth;
That he might hear the groan of the captive*
 and set free those condemned to die;
That they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,*
 and his praise in Jerusalem;
When the peoples are gathered together,*
 and the kingdoms also, to serve the Lord.
He has brought down my strength before my time;*
 he has shortened the number of my days;
And I said, 'O my God,
   do not take me away in the midst of my days;*
 your years endure throughout all generations.
'In the beginning, O Lord,
   you laid the foundations of the earth,*
 and the heavens are the work of your hands;
'They shall perish, but you will endure;
   they all shall wear out like a garment;*
 as clothing you will change them,
   and they shall be changed;
'But you are always the same,*
 and your years will never end.
'The children of your servants shall continue,*
 and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight.'

A Song of the Lamb (from Revelation 19)

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
 whose judgements are true and just.

Praise our God, all you his servants,
 all who fear him, both small and great.

The Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns:
 let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory.

The marriage of the Lamb has come
 and his bride has made herself ready.

Blessed are those who are invited
 to the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
 be blessing and honour and glory and might,
 for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 147:13-end

Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem;*
 praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;*
 he has blessed your children within you.
He has established peace on your borders;*
 he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth,*
 and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;*
 he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He scatters his hail like bread crumbs;*
 who can stand against his cold?
He sends forth his word and melts them;*
 he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,*
 his statutes and his judgements to Israel.
He has not done so to any other nation;*
 to them he has not revealed his judgements.

READING [Revelation 4:9-5:5]:

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour
and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who
lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall
before the one who is seated on the throne and worship
the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their
crowns before the throne, singing,
'You are worthy, our Lord and God,
   to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
   and by your will they existed and were created.'

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the
throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back,
sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel
proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the
scroll and break its seals?' And no one in heaven or on
earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or
to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no
one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into
it. Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. See,
the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has
conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven

For another Biblical reading,
Amos 6

Words: Frans Mikael Franz n, 1812;
trans. Augustus Nelson (1863-1949)
Tune: Bereden v g f"r Herran
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Prepare the way, O Zion!
Ye awful deeps, rise high;
sink low, ye towering mountains,
the Lord is drawing nigh;
the righteous King of glory,
foretold in sacred story.

O blest is he that came
in God the Father's Name.

O Zion, he approacheth,
thy Lord and King for aye!
Strew palms where he advanceth,
spread garments in his way.
God's promise faileth never,
Hosanna sound forever! Refrain

Fling wide thy portals, Zion
and hail thy glorious King;
his tidings of salvation
to every people bring,
who, waiting yet in sadness,
would sing his praise in gladness. Refrain

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

>From the rising of the sun to its setting, 
let us pray to the Lord.

That the people of God in all the world
may worship in spirit and in truth,
let us pray to the Lord: 
Lord, have mercy.

That the Church may discover again that unity which is your gift,
let us pray to the Lord: 
Lord, have mercy.

For your Church in every place, especially the Diocese of
Wellington, New Zealand, The Rt Revd Dr Thomas John Brown, Bishop.
Lord, have mercy.

That the nations of the earth
may seek after the ways that make for peace,
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord, have mercy.

That the whole creation, groaning in travail,
may be set free to enjoy the glorious liberty
of the children of God,
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord, have mercy.

That all who with Christ have entered the shadow of death
may find the fulfilment of life and peace,
let us pray to the Lord:
Lord, have mercy.

With all the saints in light,
let us offer eternal praise to the Lord made manifest:

God of all wisdom,
our hearts yearn for the warmth of your love,
and our minds search for the light of your Word:
Increase our longing for Christ our Savior,
and strengthen us to grow in love,
that at the dawn of his coming
we may rejoice in his presence
and welcome the light of his truth;
this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ. 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 and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer 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.

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.
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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