Hark, A Thrilling Voice is Sounding
Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding.
“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the works of darkness,
O ye children of the day.”
Wakened by the solemn warning,
let the earth-bound soul arise;
Christ, her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
shines upon the morning skies.
Lo! the Lamb, so long expected,
comes with pardon down from heaven;
let us all, with tears of sorrow,
pray that we may be forgiven;
that when next he comes with glory,
and the world is wrapped in fear,
with his mercy he may shield us,
and with words of love draw near.
Honor, glory, might, and blessing
to the Father and the Son,
with the everlasting Spirit,
while eternal ages run.
Words: Latin, sixth century;
trans. Edward Caswall (1814-1878) as “Hark, an awful voice is sounding”.
Murray’s Hymnal of 1852 changed the first line to “a thrilling voice”
and Hymns Ancient & Modern of 1861 altered the text further into its present form.
First of all, as Scott and I always say when we encounter a video or snippet from a church service that delights us, ‘I would TOTALLY go to church here.” Can you imagine? That organ! That chancel! Those ROBES! That BRASS! Oh my, a feast for the senses, all pointing to the King of glory, declared in Advent terms to be the one who not only has come, but will come again in glory. The fourth stanza above gives me goosebumps every year when we sing it – the very person who has come will shield us by Himself from the judgment of the One who is coming – by Himself, by His blood, by the forgiveness of sins offered to us in the person of the Lord Jesus. It’s a spinning spiral of now and not yet; redeemed and fallen; sinner and saint. It is precisely in the middle of this paradox where we live our lives… knowing the end, watching for a King, clinging to one who has already come – oh, the drama! Perhaps this is why I
am so continually drawn to liturgical worship, too – to participate in the retelling of the story, the drama of the light and the darkness, the visual of the Gospel lesson being processed to the center of the church every Sunday – a picture of the Incarnation week after week.
It is into this darkness that He comes. And it is my commitment this week, to that end, to cast away as many of the works of darkness that I can, and to be a bringer of light into the darkest corners. Come, Lord Jesus.
We spent last weekend in South Carolina for the Ordination to the Priesthood of our great friend Marcus Kaiser. Marcus and his wife Kim were our seminary housemates for a year, and for the two years that we served in Racine, they traveled to do Marcus’ field education with us at St. Michael’s. Every Sunday. And most Tuesdays. Scott and I marvel at our friendship with them for many reasons, but the simple fact is that this is a couple that we love equally, met at the same time, and enjoy in the same manner. I love Kim. Scott loves Kim. I love Marcus. Scott loves Marcus. Our kids love their kids. It’s an absolute delight. They are too far away for our liking, but the roadtrip was actually quite fun, and the Ordination service was one for the record books. Scott preached an extraordinary sermon – I mean, I’m biased, but I’m also opinionated. This one was a keeper. My spirit was emboldened by Scott’s work.
I played organ for part of the service, and sang a song or two. I felt like Jacob while I was playing that instrument – it was a wrestling match for sure, and I wasn’t going to let it go until it blessed me. And bless me, it did. Holy cow. Festival trumpets, and a Rutter arrangement. That’s all I need to say about that. But it was thrilling – THRILLING – to participate in this service together. I married up. I highly recommend it.
We made it home between blizzards. Today the kids have been given a snow day, so we’re all cozy inside and watching the foot and a half of snow that has fallen through icy windows. It’s appropriate that it’s cold, and so dark now. Because we’re getting close to the shortest day of the year, which comes right before the Darkness Turns to Dawn. But that’s our next Advent hymn. So stay tuned.