Lent 2012: Day Twenty-Eight

Psalm 80:3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

By surprise, my evening in Durham for a short trip exploring the university further turned out to be the day of the celebration for St Cuthbert – the patron saint of Durham Cathedral.

And so, after a supper in St Johns dining room with other prospective students and some delightful chocolate cake, I headed to Festal Evensong.

The Cathedral was nearly filled, and finding myself early enough to be near the front and on the aisle, I could see very well. My heart nearly stopped when I thought the Pope was swinging the thurible – turned out to be a monk (I did not know they could wear white and hats!).

Yet even with the Pope-looking monk dropping incense on the floor and the Bishop taking his hat off to the Gospel book (both of which I found amusing), and even with the beautiful choir and intercessions with the Taize exaudi nos (hear us) and the moving pilgrimage to the Shrine of St Cuthbert, my favourite part of the evening came at the beginning.

The Lucernarium / Blessing of the Light, is apparently one of the oldest Christian ceremonies. We began in silence, the Cathedral gradually being flooded with light as candles were lit and held high. As the light grew brighter, the choir sang…

O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes precesque sumere.

Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus est pro perditis
Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis.

(O Light born of light, Jesu redeemer of the age; graciously condescend to accept our prayers and praises, who one humbled yourself to be clothed in flesh for our sake, who were lost. Grant that we may be made members of your blessed body.)

… and when the light reached its brightest and we seemed cloaked in a golden embrace, we sang together…

How shall I sing that majesty
Which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
Sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
Thy throne, O God most high;
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound
Thy praise; but who am I?

Thy brightness unto them appears,
Whilst I thy footsteps trace;
A sound of God comes to my ears,
But they behold thy face.
They sing because thou art their Sun;
Lord, send a beam on me;
For where heaven is but once begun
There alleluias be.

Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
Inflame it with love’s fire;
Then shall I sing and bear a part
With that celestial choir.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
With all my fire and light;
Yet when thou dost accept their gold,
Lord, treasure up my mite.

How great a being, Lord, is thine,
Which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line
To sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,
A sun without a sphere;
Thy time is now and evermore,
Thy place is everywhere.

Psalm 80:3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

This entry was posted in *Favourites*, Bible (passages and study), Christianity, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lent 2012: Day Twenty-Eight

  1. Pingback: HOW SHALL I SING? | Simon Marsh

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