OREMUS: 7 December 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Dec 6 18:52:24 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Thursday, December 7, 2006 
Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher of the Faith, 397

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

Blessed are you, loving God,
ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your church.
The earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
You call us to prepare our hearts
and remove that which hinders us
from the joy and hope his presence will bestow.
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 62

For God alone my soul in silence waits;*
 from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,*
 my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will you assail me to crush me,
   all of you together,*
 as if you were a leaning fence, a toppling wall?
They seek only to bring me down
   from my place of honour;*
 lies are their chief delight.
They bless with their lips,*
 but in their hearts they curse.
For God alone my soul in silence waits;*
 truly, my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,*
 my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.
In God is my safety and my honour;*
 God is my strong rock and my refuge.
Put your trust in him always, O people,*
 pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.
Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath,*
 even those of low estate cannot be trusted.
On the scales they are lighter than a breath,*
 all of them together.
Put no trust in extortion;
   in robbery take no empty pride;*
 though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.
God has spoken once, twice have I heard it,*
 that power belongs to God.
Steadfast love is yours, O Lord,*
 for you repay everyone according to his deeds.

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,*
 then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,*
 and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,*
 'The Lord has done great things for them.'
The Lord has done great things for us,*
 and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,*
 like the watercourses of the Negev.
Those who sowed with tears*
 will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,*
 will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

A Song of Baruch (Baruch 5.5,6c,7-9

Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height:
look to the east and see your children,

Gathered from the west and the east
at the word of the Holy One.

They rejoice that God has remembered them
and has brought them back to you.

For God has ordered that every high mountain
and the everlasting hills be made low,

And the valleys filled up to make level ground
so that they may walk safely in the glory of God.

The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded them at God's command.

For God will lead his people with joy
in the light of his glory
with the mercy and righteousness that comes from God.

Psalm 148

   Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
 praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his;*
 praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;*
 praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
 and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
 for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
 he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,*
 you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
 tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills,*
 fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,*
 creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
 princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens,*
 old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
 for his name only is exalted,
   his splendour is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people
   and praise for all his loyal servants,*
 the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

FIRST READING [Malachi 3:5-12]:

Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be
swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the
adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against
those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the
widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the
alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children
of Jacob, have not perished. Ever since the days of your
ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have
not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,
says the Lord of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we
Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say,
'How are we robbing you?' In your tithes and offerings!
You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me the
whole nation of you! Bring the full tithe into the
storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and
thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I
will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down
for you an overflowing blessing. I will rebuke the locust
for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your
soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren,
says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will count you
happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord
of hosts. 

Words: Ambrose of Milan, circa 397; paraphrased by Martin Luther, 1523;
trans. William Morton Reynolds, 1851.
Tune: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
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Savior of the nations, come;
virgin's Son, here make thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
that the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood;
by the Spirit of our God
was the Word of God made flesh,
woman's offspring, pure and fresh.

Wondrous birth! O wondrous child
of the Virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
still to be in heaven enthroned.

>From the Father forth he came
and returneth to the same,
captive leading death and hell
high the song of triumph swell!

Thou, the Father's only Son,
hast over sin the victory won.
boundless shall thy kingdom be;
when shall we its glories see?

Brightly doth thy manger shine,
glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin overcloud this light;
ever be our faith thus bright.

Praise to God the Father sing,
praise to God the Son, our King,
praise to God the Spirit be
ever and eternally.

SECOND READING [Philippians 1:12-18a]:

I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to
spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard
and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and
sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the
word with greater boldness and without fear.
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim
Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defence of the gospel; the
others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase
my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is
proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.

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

O Lord, answer us in the day of trouble,
Send us help from your holy place.

Show us the path of life,
For in your presence is joy.

Give justice to the orphan and oppressed
And break the power of wickedness and evil.

Look upon the hungry and sorrowful
And grant them the help for which they long.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad;
May your glory endure for ever.

Your kingship has dominion over all
And with you is our redemption.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you are for me medicine when I am sick;
you are my strength when I need help;
you are life itself when I fear death;
you are the way when I long for heaven;
you are light when all is dark;
you are my food when I need nourishment. Amen.

God of hosts,
who called Ambrose from the governor's throne
to be a bishop in your Church
and an intrepid champion of your faithful people:
mercifully grant that, as he did not fear to rebuke rulers,
so we, with like courage,
may contend for the faith we have received;
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.
Awaiting his coming in glory,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

O Son of God, our Savior,
today we await your coming,
and tomorrow we shall see your glory.
Reveal the good news to all of us
who long for your arrival.
Come, Love incarnate, do not delay.
Come, Lord Jesus! 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 and the closing sentence are adapted from
_Chalice Worship_, (c) Chalice Press, 1997. Reproduced with

The first collect is attributed to Saint Ambrose.

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.

Ambrose was governor of Northern Italy, with capital at Milan. When the see
of Milan fell vacant, it seemed likely that rioting would result, since the city
was evenly divided between Arians and Athanasians. (Explanatory Note:
Athanasians affirm that the Logos or Word (John 1:1) is fully God in the same
sense that the Father is, while Arians affirm that the Logos is a creature, the
first being created by the Father.) Ambrose went to the meeting where the
election was to take place, and appealed to the crowd for order and good will
on both sides. He ended up being elected bishop with the support of both
He gave away his wealth, and lived in simplicity. By his preaching, he
converted the diocese to the Athanasian position, except for the Goths and
some members of the Imperial Household. On one occasion, the Empress
ordered him to turn over a church to the Arians so that her Gothic soldiers
could worship in it. Ambrose refused, and he and his people occupied the
church. Ambrose composed Latin hymns in the long meter and taught them to
the people, who sang them in the church as the soldiers surrounded it. The
Goths were unwilling to attack a hymn-singing congregation, and Ambrose
won that dispute.
He subsequently won another dispute, when the Emperor, enraged by a crowd
who defied him, ordered them all killed by his soldiers. When he next appeared
at church, Ambrose met him at the door and said, "You may not come in.
There is blood on your hands." The emperor finally agreed to do public
penance and to promise that thereafter he would never carry out a sentence of
death without a forty-day delay after pronouncing it. Less creditable, to
modern Christians, is Ambrose's dispute with the emperor when certain
Christians burned a Jewish synagogue, and the emperor commanded them to
make restitution. Ambrose maintained that no Christian could be compelled to
provide money for the building of a non-Christian house of worship, no matter
what the circumstances.
Ambrose was largely responsible for the conversion of St. Augustine. The
hymn Te Deum Laudamus ("We praise Thee, O God") was long thought to
have been composed by Ambrose in thanksgiving for that conversion. The
current opinion is that Ambrose did not write it, but that he may well have
written the Creed known as the Athanasian Creed. He is perhaps the first
writer of Christian hymns with rhyme and (accentual) meter, and northern Italy
still uses his style of plainchant, known as Ambrosian chant, rather than the
more widespread Gregorian chant. He died 4 April 397, but (because this date
so often falls in Holy Week or Easter Week) he is commonly remembered on
the anniversary of his consecration as bishop, 7 December. [James Kiefer]

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