Pause for Prayer: An angel comes calling!

Annunciation by Tanner

Today, March 25, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation.  Today's feast celebrates the moment when, with the message from the angel Gabriel, Mary conceived the Christ Child in her womb. (Note that exactly 9 months from today we'll be celebrating Christmas!)  Here's how Luke's gospel tells the story:
The angel Gabriel was sent to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary.  And coming to her, the angel said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High..
(My prayer for today, "Waiting for An Angel's Message," is followed by two musical settings of the story of the Annunciation, one by VOCES8 and one by Sting.)

Waiting for an angel's message
Sometimes, Lord,
my heart aches for a message,
looks for an angel, 
strains and listens for
a much-needed word from you...

My heart waits for you to speak 
to my life and my worries,
my fears and confusion,
my decisions and choices... 

My heart waits 
for tidings of encouragement,
for a word of wisdom and counsel
to strengthen and empower me,
to guide my way and guard me...

My heart waits to hear you say,
even for you to whisper,
Don't be afraid... I'm with you...
I'm always with you... I'll never leave you...
I'm beside you, before you and behind you,
above you, below you, within you...

My soul strains to hear you say:
I've found favor with you...
I care for you... I care about you...
I watch for you... 
I watch out for you...
I watch over you...
There's a place in my heart,
a place I keep just for you,
a place where I hold you...

Send a message, a word, Lord,
send an angel
to speak to my heart,
to announce your presence,
to bring me good news...

Speak to me as you spoke to Mary:
when I'm not expecting you...
when I'm confused and don't understand...
what I'm not sure what you're asking of me...
when I'm afraid of what tomorrow may bring...

Fill my heart with your grace, Lord,
that I might see every angel you send my way
and hear every word you speak to my heart,
that I might welcome and treasure
each message of your love...


"Gabriel's Message" is a Basque Christmas folk carol about the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the archangel Gabriel that she would become the mother of the son of God.  Sting and Voces8 give us different beautiful renditions of the same song.

The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow his eyes as flame
"All hail" said he "thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady," Gloria! "

For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold
Most highly favored lady," Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
"My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name."
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!

Of her, Emanuel, the Christ was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!


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