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 might have been easily understood… Even if the Kingdom of God is slightly different from the British Empire… although disentangling one from the other in the hearts, minds and politics of 19th century British church would have been quite difficult… just as the geo-politics of the US, and its “manifest destiny” are dangerously entangled in the missiology of a lot of American churches.
The Kingdom of God will not be coterminous with any earthly kingdom, empire, nation or strategic alliance of nations… It will, one day extend around the globe, and will truly be the Kingdom on which the sun never sets. But when it refers to a Kingdom, lets not confuse it with a constitutional monarchy like our own… If Christ is to be King, then it will not be within carefully legislated parameters. It will not be a dictatorship… But it will not be a populist democracy either, with what is right being determined by what is popular. Its borders will not be marked on a map but on the contours of individual human hearts.
The real reason I think Neale dropped this verse from his version? It’s probably because of the awkward mixed metaphor of kingship and cornerstone… Neither Maggi Dawn’s or Alan Luff’s versions capture my imagination in the way that their readings of other verses do… And that is not me being critical of their creative skills – far from it… perhaps I should do a version of these O Antiphons for myself, just to demonstrate how good the two of them are! It’s simply a lot to cram into 4 short lines… But then, how can you sum up what the Kingdom of God and Christ’s Kingship really means in a few lines?
Dr. S.M. Lockridge takes a wee bit longer than that in the following prayer/poetic sermon… I’ve posted this before but he seemingly preached it many times himself, so that’s fair enough then! Sit back and enjoy… then kneel before the King of the Nations…


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