Burst into song, shout for joy, be glad O Church of Christ

“Sing, O barren woman.”
Isaiah 55:1-3.

“SING, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labour; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

This passage is quoted by St Paul, Gal 4:21-31, in his proof from Scripture that Gentiles are children of Abraham through baptism and the Spirit.

*

“Children were born to thee by water and Spirit.”
At Matins on January 14. Source.

HE granteth power unto our rulers, and lifteth up the heads of his valiant ones, he is brought forth from a virgin, yet the Lord came to baptism; therefore let us cry out, ye faithful: There is none holy as our God, and there is none righteous besides thee, O Lord.*

* This refrain comes from the Song of Hannah (1 Kgs[1 Sam]2:1-10 LXX), which is the song of a barren woman who has been granted a child by God. It is one of the models for the Song of the Virgin Mary, the ‘Magnificat’.

BE glad O Church of Christ, who before wast barren, and today hath marvellously brought forth children by water and Spirit (Jn 3:3-5): for sons were born to thee, crying out in faith: There is none holy as our God, and there is none righteous except thou, O Lord.

IN a loud voice, the Forerunner crieth out in the wilderness: Make ready the ways of Christ, and finish* the straight paths of God, crying out in faith: There is none holy as our God, and there is none righteous except thou, O Lord.

*ἀπεργάσασθε is not the word used in the Septuagint or the Gospels, which is ποιεῖτε. It strengthens the idea of finishing a job, rounding it off, bringing it to completion. Compare Jesus’s words when he returns from fasting for forty days: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15).

*

“Make disciples of all nations.”
Matthew 28:18-20.

THEN Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

*

The Song of the Virgin Mary.

MY soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Greater in honour than the cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word. Truly the Theotokos, we magnify thee.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. Refrain.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm, he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

Bless the crown of the year

**

Today is the first day of the ecclesiastical New Year.

The reading at Matins is Luke 1:39-49, 56, which includes the Song of Mary (above).

AND Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

At Vespers, the reading is from Isaiah 61:1-10, the reading which Jesus gave at the synagogue in Nazareth. (According to Orthodox tradition, September 1 was the day on which he delivered it.)

**

An icon of Christ at the synagogue in Nazareth

An icon of Christ at the synagogue in Nazareth

**

AND he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 4:16-21.

**

ONE with the Holy Spirit, O Word and Son without beginning, co-maker of all and co-creator of all things visible and invisible, bless the crown of the year, guarding in peace the multitudes of the Orthodox, at the prayers of the Mother of God and of all the Saints.

At Vespers, for September 1. Translation from Anastasis.

Let us keep the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary always in our souls

MAY all of you imitate the Theotokos Mariam, the Virgin Mary.

She said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord!” and became the Mother of God and the Lady of the angels.

Her fruit, our sweet Jesus, through obedience ascended the Cross and descended into Hades to heal the great wound of disobedience.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959), “Monastic Wisdom”, Twenty-Ninth Letter.

**

WE are obliged, in order to acquire blessing, to be at pains to strive unceasingly for what we desire to possess endlessly, until we receive it.

So let us turn over the words of the Gospel in frequent meditation, let us keep the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary always in our souls, so that we too being found humble in the sight of God, and also subject to our neighbours with the honour they are due, we might be found worthy to be lifted up on high together with her.

The shrine of St Bede, Durham Cathedral

The shrine of St Bede, Durham Cathedral. On the tomb is inscribed, "Hâc sunt in fossâ Bedae venerabilis ossa" (In this grave are the bones of the Venerable Bede). At the other end of the Cathedral is the shrine of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, whose "Life" St Bede wrote in verse and prose.

Let us apply ourselves anxiously, lest a partiality for immoderate praises exalt us, when we see her, among words of true praise, keep hold upon an unshaken steadiness in humility.

If an immoderate taste for temporal things should entice us, let us remember that our Judge sends the rich away empty; if it should happen that temporal afflictions distress the mind, let us recall that he also exalts the humble.

Let us never despair of the failings for which we pray being forgiven, because his mercy is from generation to generation of those who fear him.

Let not the impenitent man’s heavier guilt hide away amidst the evils which he has done, because God has withstood the proud, and dividing theirs from the fate of the blessed, he has scattered them for their various sins through various places of punishment.

But by the generosity of God, if we always cultivate the deeds and words of Blessed Mary, then both attention to purity and works of virtue will always continue steadfastly in us.

St Bede, whose feast day is celebrated on May 27th. Sermon XL, for a Feast of the Blessed Virgin.

**

MY soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Greater in honour than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim:
without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word; truly the Mother of God, we magnify thee.

Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Greater in honour &c..

Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.

And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.

He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.

He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:

As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

Luke 1:46-55, in the Douay-Rhiems translation of the Latin Vulgate which St Bede knew.

**