Showing posts from December, 2011

The VM Awards for 2011

Ok… It’s the last day of 2011 and before I head out to perform my last clerical duties of the year, as per the tradition (ie. I did it last year…) I offer you an eclectic set of VM’s Awards of the Year… as if anyone cares…

Anyway, last year kicked off with what was to be my (and many people’s) favourite film of the year – The King’s Speech, in which Colin Firth stammered his way to a p-p-plethora of awards… Still think Helena Bonham Carter was the best thing in it however…

It took until the end of the year however for me to come across my favourite album of the year… it was a Christmas present to my eldest son from some discerning giver… What do you give a jazz trumpet playing teenager with pretensions at being a guitar playing rock god (when not studying for medicine or strutting the stage that is)? – why obviously Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton Play the Blues Live at the Lincoln Centre… Two genuine musical genii sharing the same stage… And as I am eventually carried out of my fu…

Have some Craic this Christmas!

Happy Chrismas to all those who have enriched our lives this year and have followed us on facebook and on this blog. Hope God blesses you in the new year and perhaps we'll meet up in the real world and not just  on the interweb... But throughout what remains of this year, and next, wherever you may be and in whatever you face, may you remember that Jesus in Emmanuel - God with us. Shalom

O Come all you Faithless...

So we've now finished our look at the so-called "O Antiphons..." with a big help from Maggi Dawn and her translation of this advent liturgy.

Seemingly the Benedictine monks arranged the antiphons so that if you take the first letter of each one in reverse order - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia, they spell “ero cras” – which in Latin means “tomorrow I will come”.

This comes from the time when Christmas Eve was the big celebration of Christ's coming... And indeed in many parts of the world it still is today… Within Britain and Ireland the last vestiges of this is to be found in the Midnight Communion/Mass, which still has an enormous attraction to those who would never normally cross the threshold of a church… Some well lubricated with Christmas spirit… This led one character in the wonderful BBC “Rev” Christmas special to refer to Christmas Eve Communion as “the religious equivalent of a kebab” (do check this episode out – if not the whole …

O Come - Emmanuel

We are most familiar with this antiphon as the opening verse of John Mason Neale’s stirring advent hymn: O come, O come Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.Latin 13th century translated by John M Neale (1818-1866)
The interesting thing is that the original Latin makes no reference to Israel, but returns again to the coming King as ruler of the (gentile) nations:

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
Which Maggi Dawn translates:

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
I can’t even begin to speculate why Neale changed the emphasis. Was he a British Israelite? I find suspicions about him being a closet papist in his internet biographies but no reference to such a British Israelite philosophy, although it wouldn’t have been unus…

O Come - King

The antiphon for today is one of those missing from the traditional English version, but in Latin it reads:
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti. Maggi Dawn translates it as:

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
While Alan Luff offers this: O come, the nations' King, impart
To them the longing of their heart;
United us with that cornerstone
In whom the saved are built as one. Alan Luff (born 1928) translated from Veni Emmanuel © Stainer & Bell Ltd. Is this version missing from the traditional English version translated by John Mason Neale because the metaphor of Christ’s kingship sits uneasily with our modern democratic mindset? I doubt that given that he did his translation in the 19th century at the height of the British imperialism, when the idea of a Kingdom that embraces all nations migh…

O Come - Dayspring

O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer Our spirits by your advent here; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. Latin 13th century translated by John M Neale (1818-1866)
The only thing that Dayspring means to me is that it is the tradename of a company that has a line of cloying Christian greetings cards for all eventualities... It wasn't until I read the Latin original that I realise it has a clearer meaning: O Oriens,

splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.Oriens means daybreak, or sunrise... Is it an accident that the ancient writers of this series of songs saved this one for the day before the shortest day of the year and the true beginning of winter? I don't think so...
Maggi Dawn translates this verse with a wee bit more liberty writing:

Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

This obvio…

O Come - Key of David

Ooops... This one escaped in the form of an earlier draft that only had the following verse from Neale's translation of the Antiphon for today:
O come, O Key of David, come, And open wide our heavenly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery. Latin 13th century translated by John M Neale (1818-1866)
As has been my pattern this past week, I had intended to include the original Latin text and Maggi Dawn's stimulating translation. O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Like all the O Antiphons, this one draws on Isaiah's prophecies, in this case:
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David;
what he op…

O Come - Shoot, Root, Rod, Rood, Radish whatever...

O come, O Rod of Jesse, free
Your own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell your people save,
And give the victory o'er the grave.Latin 13th century translated by John M Neale (1818-1866)
English is a funny old language. I'm not stupid, I know my Bible and I've got a good working knowledge of the origins and derivations of words in English, yet every time I sing this verse of this advent hymn I have a picture of Jesus laying about him with a big stick, beating the Devil and his demons with this "rod of Jesse".
Of course thats not the intended image. The original Latin of this verse goes: O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare. The modern English word "radish" is derived from the Latin "radix" but it is not this specific usage referred to here (the image of Christ as a small purplish vegetable is no more helpful than that of him as a…

O Come - Lord

O come, O come, O Lord of might Who to your tribes on Sinai's height, In ancient times didst give the law In cloud and majesty and awe Latin 13th century translated by John M Neale (1818-1866)
The original Latin of this is: O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento. Which Maggi Dawn translated as:
O Adonai and Ruler of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and on Mount Sinai gave him your law. Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us Maggi keeps the word Adonai in her translation of this verse of the old Advent hymn... The title which we are told was ascribed to God, and used in place of his sacred name of YHWH when the Jewish rabbis were reading from scripture, for fear that they would take God's actual name in vain, leading to the later mix up of the consonants from YHWH and the vowels from Adonai, to produce the composite "Jehovah." Make…

O Come - Wisdom

Yesterday I shared Maggi Dawn's introduction to the "O Antiphons" better known through the hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". However, as I said yesterday, most versions of the hymn omit 2 of the original verses, and we actually begin with one of those missing verses, which Alan Luff recently translated as: O come, thou Wisdom from on high Before whom all our follies fly; Give thy sweet order to all things As through the world thy prudence wings. Alan Luff (born 1928) translated from Veni Emmanuel © Stainer & Bell Ltd.
For Latin purists Maggi Dawn posted the original Antiphon as: O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae. In the modern world we value knowledge and information... and we have never had so much of it at our fingertips, floating around in the ether, ready to download at any time. But Glenn Campbell over at Kilroy Cafe writes:
Society is currently…

O Come - O Come...

Last year in the run up to Christmas, Maggi Dawn published a series of posts on the so-called "O Antiphons" and in her introduction she said:
"The “O Antiphons” are seven short songs, one of which is said or sung each evening for seven nights before Christmas Eve – the last “octave” or seven days of Advent, 17-23 December. (There are some other traditions in which extra antiphons are inserted – for instance, the Sarum liturgy has eight, and another has twelve). By ancient tradition, the Antiphon for the day was sung before the Magnificat at Vespers, the evening office, and in the Anglican tradition the antiphons are used in Evening Prayer. They weren’t in the Book of Common Prayer, but you can find them in the English Hymnal, and in Common Worship.
Even if you aren’t familiar with the Antiphons, you probably know the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Veni Emmanuel in Latin), which condenses all the antiphons into one Advent hymn.
They are called the “O” Antiphons simply bec…

Santa, God and Satan

A few days ago I overheard this conversation which Sally later posted as her fb status update: Sally: So do you think Santa is a real person? Ciaran: What?? You can't disprove Santa is real. Well you can, but then you would crush my childhood dreams and I will bring Childline down on your head like a hurricane. Everyday life in the Campton household. Anyway, a few days before I overheard another conversation on a bus which included the line: "I gave up believing in God shortly after I gave up believing in Santa and the Tooth Fairy." I'm sure you've come across similar, and if not, spend 5 minutes looking at the comments on many "Christian" contributions to YouTube or other open-access Christian website. Such an attitude to the idea of God reflects more on our "consumerist" attitude to God... he's there to bless us and to turn painful experiences (like losing a tooth) into gain (hopefully financial!). If you want to start debating with s…

O Come and Behold Who?

I originally picked this up at the beginning of the year, but Christmas had been and gone by that stage, and with it the season of carolling (to which most ministers generally respond with a collective sigh of relief). But it has now swung round again and anything that gives us a new angle on overly-familiar songs sung repeatedly over a few weeks is worth thinking about. In this case the word "angle" is particularly apposite. Now I have repeatedly pointed out some of the political dimensions of the nativity story as we find it in Matthew's and Luke's Gospels, but Esther Addley, on Comment is Free, suggested that some of our favourite carols had political origins too (though perhaps not always quite in tune with the original gospel story). Her account of 'O come all ye faithful' is particularly interesting. I don't know if there is any truth in it, but she suggests that Adeste Fideles, the Latin hymn from which the carol was translated, was not composed by…