Sunday, September 08, 2013

Prophetic music: Guide our feet into the way of peace

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest:
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
to give knowledge of salvation unto his people for the remission of their sins,

through the tender mercy of our God;
whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace. Lk 1:76-79 (King James translation)

For almost thirty years I have prayed the Benedictus each morning, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.." Yesterday morning, I sat outside on a glorious fall day to pray. On such a still and perfect morning, war seems unimaginable. Yet I knew the paper that still lay on the driveway would make it all to easy to imagine the tempest that is gathering on distant shores.

I love the antiphonal nature of Vaughn Williams' setting.  It brings me to face  the prophetic call of this text, not just for the baby whose name was to be John, but our own baptismal call. A single voice of remarkable clarity calls forth a response from the many, with grace, the melody blossoms into four-part harmony.  Despite the traditional liturgical setting of this text  within morning prayer, Vaughn William's music evokes for me a sense of vigil, and a gathering darkness outse.

May our prayers so gather, layer upon layer, until we can be heard to the farthest ends of the earth.  We pray that we might be prophets, that we might prepare the way. We pray for light in the darkness. We pray for mercy. We stand in world torn by violence and we cry: Lord, guide our feet into the way of peace.

A version of this post appeared at  RevGalBlogPals.

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