A Hymn for Christmas

Suitable for the Christmas Vigil Mass with its lengthy genealogy of Jesus demonstrating a theological interpretation of Israel’s history in three epochs — rising from Abraham (patriarch) to David (monarch), falling to the nadir of the destruction of the Davidic monarchy during the Babylonian captivity and then rising and surpassing the first era in Jesus — my hymn text, “O Ancient Love, Processing Through the Ages,” simply rings changes on the various manifestations of love we humans experience in Christ Jesus. However, line one in stanza one clearly evokes the Matthean genealogy, line two the subsequent infancy narrative, and line three the non-Gospel readings appointed for the Vigil Mass. Notice that the invariable refrain turns each stanza into a prayer, asking that the incarnate love of Christ come to birth in our spiritual lives (“be born”) and that we subsequently submit to the power of the Spirit to nurture the Christ-life within us (“be borne”).

I have set this text to an original 11.10.11.10.10 tune I entitled BEDFORD ABBEY. The text is copyrighted by The Jan Michael Joncas Trust and is published by Oregon Catholic Press in Within Our Hearts Be Born. The Michael Joncas Hymnary: Advent and Christmas.  Please accept this composition as my prayer that the Advent longings of the readers of this blog be brought to fulfillment in the joys of Christmas and the New Year.

O ancient love, processing through the ages:
O hidden love, revealed in human form:
O promised love, the dream of seers and sages:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

O homeless love, that dwells among the stranger:
O lowly love, that knows the mighty’s scorn:
O hungry love, that lay within a manger:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

O gentle love, caressing those in sorrow:
O tender love, that comforts those forlorn:
O hopeful love, that promises tomorrow:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

O suff’ring love, that bears our human weakness:
O boundless love, that rises with the morn:
O mighty love, concealed in infant meekness:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

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