What star is this, with beams so bright,
more beauteous than the noonday light?
It shines to herald forth the King,
and Gentiles to his crib to bring.
True spake the prophet from afar
who told the rise of Jacob’s star;
and eastern sages with amaze
upon the wondrous token gaze.
The guiding star above is bright;
within them shines a clearer light,
and leads them on with power benign
to seek the Giver of the sign.
O Jesus, while the star of grace
impels us on to seek thy face,
let not our slothful hearts refuse
the guidance of thy light to use.
To God the Father, heavenly Light,
to Christ, revealed in earthly night,
to God the Holy Ghost we raise
our equal and unceasing praise.
–Words: Charles Coffin (1676-1749)
–Music: Puer Nobis, melody from Trier MS, 15th century
Thou, whose almighty word
chaos and darkness heard,
and took their flight;
hear us, we humbly pray,
and, where the Gospel day
sheds not its glorious ray,
let there be light!
Thou who didst come to bring
on thy redeeming wing
healing and sight,
heal to the sick in mind,
sight to the inly blind,
now to all humankind,
let there be light!
Spirit of truth and love,
life-giving holy Dove,
speed forth thy flight!
Move on the waters’ face
bearing the gifts of grace,
and, in earth’s darkest place,
let there be light!
Holy and blessèd Three,
Wisdom, Love, Might;
boundless as ocean’s tide,
rolling in fullest pride,
through the world far and wide,
let there be light!
–Words: John Marriott (1780-1825)
–Music: MOSCOW, Felice de Giardini (1716-1796)
O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
to tell to all the world that God is Light;
that he who made all nations is not willing
one soul should fail to know his love and might.
Publish glad tidings: tidings of peace
tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.
Proclaim to every people, tongue, and nation
that God, in whom they live and move, is Love;
tell how he stooped to save his lost creation,
and died on earth that all might live above. Refrain
Send heralds forth, to bear the message glorious;
give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious
till God shall bring his kingdom’s joyful day. Refrain
He comes again! O Zion, ere thou meet him,
make known to every heart his saving grace;
let none whom he hath ransomed fail to greet him,
through thy neglect, unfit to see his face. Refrain
–Words: Mary Ann Thomson (1870)
–Tune: TIDINGS (James Walch, 1837-1901)
A week ago, there was a lot of rain over several days in Kentucky. On Friday evening, the rain clouds began to dissipate, and there was a momentary glimpse of the sun just as it began its descent back to the horizon toward dusk. I caught this image of the sun peeking through the clouds. It reminds me of our approach to Holy Week…the sun setting on the Lenten story as we approach the darkness of the Triduum (the three days before Easter). But even though we know darkness is around the corner, we know that in the end, the Everlasting Light prevails and death is no more. We know that the Sun of Righteousness will rise, and never set for eternity. As we wait, we watch and pray, and listen…
One of the things I love about the winter sunsets (in the northern hemisphere, I suppose) is how magnificently bright and overwhelming they are. I learned once in an astronomy class that during winter in the northern hemisphere, the earth is millions of miles (or maybe it’s hundreds of thousands?) closer to the sun, which is why summers in the southern hemisphere are typically warmer (and there are more tropical rainforests in the southern hemisphere). I captured this image of the setting winter sun the other day on a walk around my neighborhood. It was one of the warmest days we’ve had this year so far (in Kentucky), and as I walked toward the setting sun, I thought of the metaphor of God’s presence being like the light…piercing through the darkness, existing everywhere, yet it cannot be touched or contained. How thankful I am for these warming, sunny days as winter comes to a close (this winter has been particularly harsh)! And how amazing is our God, that God’s light and love can pierce through ALL darkness. It cannot be kept out. It cannot be contained. God is all powerful, just like the light of the sun. Thanks be to God!
Yesterday, I caught this stunning image of the mid-morning sun hiding behind my neighbor’s tree. I thought it really captures the meaning of the season of Lent. Finding life and light in the cold winter. Behind the tree is the bright sun. Embracing a Lenten practice can help train you spiritually to always focus on the light in the darkest places in your life. Training your soul to always embrace God’s grace even when all hope seems lost can be a hard thing. Engage your soul this Lent to focus on the unexpected places where you feel the light of Christ in your life. May you have a blessed Lent!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
This Christmas Eve, welcome the Light that is Jesus Christ into your home. Welcome God’s glory into your world, and let that light overcome all darkness. Do not dwell on any sadness or any biterness that may haunt your mind. This Christmas Eve, turn your heart and mind to God and welcome Jesus Christ into the center of your world. May the light of Christ illumine your way, this Christmas, and every day. Merry Christmas!
by Heidi Malott