Saturday, April 24, 2010

Easter Song?

The second week of Easter in the Office of Readings (The Liturgy of the Hours) begins Scripture selections from the book of Revelation. This past week the readings give John’s visions of the seals and trumpets –– various scenarios of God’s judgment on sin.

Easter is a time of celebration and joy.... but not removed from the larger context of God’s purposes and why Jesus died. As I read these sections of the Apocalypse I think, among other things, of “churches” today who avoid unpleasantries as if the essence of Christian Faith is to give “your best life now.” I think of the songs that are popular today, and I remember the “strong hymnody” of my earlier formation. Should we not be singing, at least sometime, songs that are rooted deep in the Christian tradition that give us opportunity to reflect more fully on true Christian hope?

Consider this one, attributed to Thomas of Celano (13th C.) and translated by Sir Walter Scott in the early nineteenth century:

That day of wrath, that dreadful day

When heav’n and earth shall pass away!

What pow’r shall be the sinner’s stay?

How shall he meet that dreadful day?

When, shrivelling like parched scroll,

The flaming heav’ns together roll:

When louder yet, and yet more dread,

Swells the high trump that wakes the dead;

O on that day, that wrathful day

When man to judgment wakes from clay,

Be Thou the trembling sinner’s stay,

Though heav’n and earth shall pass away.

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