Sunday, January 8, 2012

Epiphany and Easter

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The Star of Epiphany, the Morning Star of Easter

At the 11:30 Mass in my parish this morning, our sung prayer was especially beautiful and strong.  Some days it all comes together, and this was one of those days.

We began by singing all five verses of today's standard selection, John Hopkins' We Three Kings.  Once you've taken a good look at its verses you can see how cutting that hymn short stops a story in the telling, one that brings us from Bethlehem's plain to Calvary and Easter.

1) We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder Star.

Chorus:
O, star of wonder, star of might,

Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to the perfect light.

2) Born a babe on Bethlehem's plain;
Gold we bring to crown Him again;
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.

3) Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, all men raising,
Worship Him, God on High.

4) Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

5) Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice,
Heaven sings, "Hallelujah!"
Hallelujah!" Earth replies.

But the Epiphany- Easter connection was to surface again, later in the liturgy!

My music director, Jim Barkovic, usually continues the Communion song instrumentally after all have received and often includes a subtle interpolation, sometimes a segue, into the melody of another song with some connection to the day's feast, scriptures or homily.  These moments are subtle and if you're not listening, you might easily miss them.

Today we were all sitting in quiet prayer after Communion as Jim continued to play Gift of Finest Wheat.  Then I began to hear a familiar tune making itself gently heard, rising out of the Communion music.  Within a few moments, I was hearing Haugen's The Light of Christ Surrounds Us, a piece we do every year at Easter.  The light of Epiphany's star and Easter's candle shone as one, just as the entrance song had reminded us, Glorious now behold Him arise...  

The choir and some in the assembly began to softly hum the refrain of the Paschal piece and for a few moments, the two feasts folded musically into the unity that every Eucharist brings to the liturgical year.

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all...


 
Epiphany 2012
 
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds gorgeous. I love Jim's inspired improvisations. Maybe I should start coming to the 11:30...
Great homily too! My friends often seem surprised that I'm "still a Catholic." They have no idea how good it is.
Meighan