Sunday, December 30, 2012

who will be strong and stand with me?

Last night at the very end of the prelude before Mass, I heard the familiar French horn fanfare that denotes the arrival of the greatest of all hymns "O God Beyond All Praising."
I smirk at God. 
Well-played, sir.
I don't have time to launch anymore snark, because my tear ducts are doing their best Niagra Falls impression, and I'm caught up in the music. And each line of music is the sweetest and gentlest of salves that could soothe the savagest of beasts.

The beautiful thing about my church's choir is that they always sing the middle verse, which never gets sung at Notre Dame, and I'm not sure why. But the hymn never seems quite complete without it. It's an essential part of the story, that gets skipped over. From the joyful verse: "we can only wonder at every gift you send, at blessings without number and mercies without end." Blessings without wonder and mercies without end? As if, the cynic responds. 
But then, comes the middle section, which gives a reason for our hope. The transition from the first verse to the second needs it so desperately.

The flow'r of earthly splendor in time must surely die. 
It's fragile bloom surrender to you the Lord most high. 
But hidden from all nature, the eternal seed is sown, 
Though small in mortal stature, to heaven's garden grown. 
For Christ, the man from Heaven, from death has set us free, 
And we through Him are given the final victory.

We are given the final victory. 
And with that hope in our hearts, we can sing triumphantly during the last verse:
And whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill, 
We'll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still. 

That is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.

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