The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden, Mary,
most highly favoured lady,”
“For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favoured lady,”
Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“my soul shall laud and magnify His holy Name.”
Most highly favoured lady,
Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say
“Most highly favoured lady,”
–Words: Basque carol; para. Sabine Baring-Gould (19th century)
–Music: GABRIEL’S MESSAGE – Basque carol; harm. Edgar Pettman (20th century)
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
–Words: traditional Latin, based on the Gospel of St. Luke
–Music: Robert Parsons (1535-1572)
A tender shoot has started up from a root of grace,
as ancient seers imparted from Jesse’s holy race:
It blooms without a blight, blooms in the cold bleak winter,
turning our darkness into light.
This shoot Isaiah taught us, from Jesse’s root should spring;
The Virgin Mary brought us the branch of which we sing;
Our God of endless might gave her this child to save us,
Thus turning darkness into light.
–Composer: Otto Goldshmidt, 1829-1907 (composer and original German lyricist)
–English translation: William Bartholomew
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.”
Keep your eyes clean and your ears quiet and your mind serene. Breathe God’s air.
Work, if you can, under God’s sky.
But if you have to live in a city and live among machines and ride in the subways and eat in a place where the radio makes you deaf with spurious news and where the food destroys your life and the sentiments of those around you poison your heart with boredom, do not be impatient, but accept it as the love of God and as a seed of solitude planted in your soul.
If you are appalled by those things, you will keep your appetite for the healing silence of recollection. But meanwhile—keep your sense of compassion for the people who have forgotten the very concept of solitude.
You, at least, know that it exists, and that it is the source of peace and joy.
You can still hope for such joy. They do not even hope for it anymore.
–Excerpt from New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton.
*(changed “His” to “God’s” and “men” to “people” to make language more gender-inclusive)
Sing of Mary, pure and lowly,
virgin mother undefiled;
sing of God’s own Son most holy,
who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother,
God the Lord who came to earth,
Word made flesh, our very brother,
takes our nature by his birth.
Sing of Jesus, son of Mary,
in the home at Nazareth,
toil and labor cannot weary
love enduring until death.
Constant was the love he gave her,
though he went forth from her side,
forth to preach, and heal, and suffer,
till on Calvary he died.
Glory be to God the Father;
glory be to God the Son;
glory be to God the Spirit;
glory to the Three in One.
From the heart of blessed Mary,
from all saints the song ascends,
and the Church the strain re-echoes
unto earth’s remotest ends.
Madonna and Child by Jason Jenicke
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
–Collect for the fourth Sunday of Advent, from the Book of Common Prayer.