In our progression through the Advent Daily Office in the prologue to John’s Gospel, we come to verses 6-8, which are offset by verse 15. In these verses, we have the appearance of John the Baptist, and they echo the Lectionary reading of his message from Matthew 3 this past Sunday. Those who subscribe to the theory that John’s prologue (1:1-18) was an early Christian hymn often suggest that these verses about the Baptist were an addition to the hymn, not an original part of it. If this is so, the manner in which they were redacted supports our view that the structure of the passage is chiastic. His image in the artwork here seems to depict his “brood of vipers” message a little more closely than the one that John’s gospel records. What he offers here fits distinctly into the themes of his prologue.
With the start of the second week of Advent yesterday, we began the theme of Peace, and we begin a new set of readings and prayers in our Advent Daily Office. We continue in John’s prologue, and for the first half of the week we settle on verses 4&5, paired with verse 16. The Old Testament texts are from Isaiah.
John 1:4-5, JBP, JB Margin
In him appeared life,
and this life was the light of mankind.
The light still shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has never grasped it.
Isaiah 9:2-7 (A great light appears in the darkness)
John 1:16, NASB
For of his fullness we have all received,
and grace upon grace.
Isaiah 11:1-9 (The peace of the Messiah)
My series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth continues with the Advent edition. The carol I’ve selected for the week is, strictly speaking, not an Advent carol, but a Christmas carol. However, this being the start of the second week of Advent, the theme is Peace, and I’ve selected a carol about peace: O Holy Night. I realize I’ve written about this week’s carol before — twice last year. Once giving a nod to the hymn’s origin and once to plug a beautiful version of the song from the now-defunct Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
The hymn was written by Placide Cappeau, a French wine merchant, as “Cantique de Noel”, a poem commissioned for Christmas mass in 1847. It was set to music shortly after by Cappeau’s friend Adolphe Charles Adams, and by 1855 had been translated into many languages — into English by American abolitionist, John Sullivan Dwight.
Yesterday in our Advent Daily Office we left behind the first set of readings and stepped into the second set. Of the accompanying Old Testament passages in the first set, I actually had one person comment with recognition that I had used Everett Fox’s translation — it’s a little obscure, but I quite like it, and the recognition was a good thing. So with our mind filled with the thoughts of the eternal Word (Logos) one with the Father from before the beginning and the background of eternal Wisdom personified and the revelation of God’s name, we step into the next pair of texts from John’s prologue: verses 3 and 17. Together with the Old Testament texts, we find a description of the things established by the Word and a message for those who wait. The readings for the second half of this week are these:
Advent has arrived, and I’ve hung some greens on my blog for the season. Sundays are the usual day for an installment in my series, Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. As part of my Johannine Advent Project, I’ll be turning my focus during the season to Christmas carols, which I’ve pre-selected for Advent. It all brings to mind memories of caroling on cold winter evenings with friends, hot chocolate waiting at the end of the evening. This week’s carol is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, one with uncertain origins dating back to between the 8th and 12th centuries, and was translated from Latin in the mid-19th century by John Mason Neale (1818-1866), who also wrote “Good King Wenceslas.” The hymn is based on the Antiphons sung in the Roman Catholic church from December 17-23. In Latin, the letters which begin the original titles formed the acrostic SARCORE, which in reverse spells “ERO CRAS,” meaning “I will be there tomorrow” in Latin. As such, it is seen as the answer spoken the day before Christmas by Emmanuel himself.