Emptying

[Christ Jesus], though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:6-8
See now, the days are counting down
and, oh, the time is drawing near:
The Virgin's belly waxes round,
and soon the Savior will appear.

For Christ is emptying himself
to fill his mother's empty womb.
He binds his godhead into flesh,
and someday it shall fill the tomb.

Then he shall go to empty hell
and make of death an empty threat.
And then no tongue on earth shall tell
the fullness of his infant breath.

Then at the end, when all is done
and heaven spills out o'er the world,
the king of glory shall return:
Across the void, his sign unfurls.

Christ Jesus, fill our empty hearts
that we may bear you in our lives:
Then light shall fill our empty dark
and all our midnights shall be bright.

O come, as once you came to earth—
our empty hands embrace your own—
then we shall shine as, at your birth,
the hosts of heaven sang and shone.
The Angel appearing to the Shepherds, fresco of the 12th century, Basilica of San Isidoro, León By Unknown author – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15611393

Dust Magnificat

My soul must magnify the Lord
as he shrinks down, a speck of dust
that floats on sunlight to the floor,
as nothing as the rest of us.

How can this be, that he should live
as near as dust to dust is near?
Yet I shall give what I can give:
a home among the dust motes here.

And all the motes shall praise my name,
not for myself—no dust can bear
the weight of glory's endless flame—
but for the dust my dust shall bear:

As grit within the tyrant's eye
he grinds blind justice into gaze;
a spark upon the wind, he flies
to set the mighty woods ablaze;

a tiny seed ground into flour,
he fills the hungry with his bread;
a grain of sand that fills the hour,
he throws the powerful in dread.

Yes, even now the Lord Most High
remembers what he said to us,
and on the way to paradise
he raises up a cloud of dust.
Dust dancing in the sunlight in an old riding hall By E.mil.mil – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36177296 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How Can It Be? (Elizabeth’s Song)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,

the infant leaped in her womb, 

and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, 

cried out in a loud voice and said, 

“Blessed are you among women, 

and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me, 

that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, 

the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

Blessed are you who believed

that what was spoken to you by the Lord

would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1: 39-45
How can it be, in these late days,
that you should visit here?
That something in me leaps in praise
to know you drawing near?

How can it be, O living Lord,
though I had given up,
you now fulfill your ancient word
and fill the empty cup?

That after all my long despair,
O God, how can it be
you tear away the earthly veil
and come to dwell with me?

That you should fill me with your life
and fill my mouth with song,
and in my heart your wellsprings rise
where drought had reigned so long?

Now shall the barren places bloom,
the deserts harvest joys,
now you have filled the inner room
and freed the muted voice!

I have no words to speak of this
but these: How can it be?
I know not how, but so it is:
My Lord has come to me!
Master of the Geneva Latini – Book of Hours (Use of Rouen)- fol. 39r, The Visitation – 1952.227.39.a – Cleveland Museum of Art (cropped) By Master of the Rouen Echevinage – https://clevelandart.org/art/1952.227.39.a, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77867996

Emmanuel

We wait for you, Emmanuel,
who in the shadowed valley dwell
and in our vigil count the days
until you meet our longing gaze.
	Emmanuel, O come, O come,
	and make with us your heav'nly home.

We ache for you, Emmanuel,
as all your maddened prophets tell.
We bleed from all our hidden wounds:
Reveal them by your coming soon.
	Emmanuel, etc.

We look for you, Emmanuel,
the light that on our Eden fell
and filled us when we walked with God:
Shine now upon our barren sod.
	Emmanuel, etc.

We thirst for you, Emmanuel,
O spring unbound by any well,
but rising up from every stone
you fill the deserts of our souls.
	Emmanuel, etc.

Now come to us, Emmanuel,
and open wide our prison cells.
Forgive our debts and dry our tears:
O root of hope, come blossom here!
	Emmanuel, etc.
Grand O doré, initiale By Unknown author – internet, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9385867

Breaking

The world you spoke first long ago
was broken into shards,
and it is all the world I know,
though it will break my heart.

But now you speak a different world
I cannot comprehend.
How shall it break me open, Lord,
when this old world shall end?

What shall it be, this world you speak,
where night is clear as day
that we may find the road we seek
and safely go our way?

This world you speak, what shall it be,
this breaking dawn on high
to pierce the fog of prophecy
and touch the longing eye?

This world you speak, where music sounds
upon our long-deaf ears
like fallen seeds, and breaks the ground
we watered with our tears,

what shall it be?  What shall we see,
whose eyes were closed so long,
when all those weeping silently
break into joyful song?

And in this world, what shall I be?
Shall you remake me, too?
What seeds are breaking forth in me
when you make all things new?

Oh, give me eyes to see your world
and ears to hear its song;
let day break in my heart, O Lord,
while yet the night is long!
Am Schloßtor, signiert F. Knab, Öl auf Leinwand, 50 x 40 cm By Ferdinand Knab – http://www.dorotheum.com/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49335372

O Daughter Zion, Sing For Joy

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!

        Sing joyfully, O Israel!

    Be glad and exult with all your heart,

        O daughter Jerusalem!

    The LORD has removed the judgment against you

        he has turned away your enemies;

    the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,

        you have no further misfortune to fear.

    On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:

        Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!

    The LORD, your God, is in your midst,

        a mighty savior;

    he will rejoice over you with gladness,

        and renew you in his love,

    he will sing joyfully because of you,

        as one sings at festivals.

Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Can be sung to the tune CAROL (“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”):

O daughter Zion, sing for joy;
lift up your wounded heart
and hear at last the saving voice
that echoes in the dark:
It says that love is born anew
and light is dawning clear,
for God is singing over you
and swiftly drawing near.

The enemies before your gates
shall flee before God's might,
and those within—your pride and hate—
shall vanish in his light,
for he has come to drive out fear
that drives us like the wind.
Rise up, for he is drawing near,
and let him enter in!

Rise up and shine with his own light,
for he is Christ the flame
who loves the morning and the night
and burns in them the same.
Take courage, Zion, at the last
and sing with all your heart:
Your shame is burned to dust and ash,
consumed by Christ the spark!
Spray of sparks from a Bessemer converter as air is blown through the molten metal By Alfred T. Palmer – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID fsac.1a35063.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8094060

When All the Vines Are Trampled

When all the vines are trampled,
and scattered o'er the land
the stones that made our temple
no more united stand;
when hope's a dying ember
and signs point to the end,
your promise then remember
and take us by the hand.

Come to us when we falter
and hesitate in fear,
when all our steps are halting
and we are blind with tears.
When we can't hear you calling,
come open up our ears
and lead us to your altar,
O Savior drawing near.

Come, help us to keep going
when mountains tumble down,
and waves to mountains growing
our hopes in sorrow drown.
We walk this road not knowing
the value of our groans,
But you, your mercy showing,
don't let us walk alone.
The Prophet Jeremiah By Michelangelo – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=155641

Fiat

For the feast of the Immaculate Conception, but a day late.

The sun in all its glory,
the moon that glows and fades:
This is your mercy toward me
that fills my nights and days,
the very earth that holds me,
the waters running down,
and every word you've told me,
all woven as a crown.

My body like my mother's, 
the blood within my veins,
the heart that skips and flutters,
the breath that won't remain:
They hear your whisper call me,
your angel speak my name.
Your shadow falls upon me;
I cannot stay the same.

Now you have turned me over,
have raised me from the dust
and built yourself a tower,
a body from my rust.
And all my world is shaken,
the high stars toppled down,
when in my flesh you quicken
and in my waters drown.

Your name is no less holy
hung on an infant's arms:
the mighty one made lowly
to fill the empty heart.
Your promise you remembered
though long the years have been,
and all creation trembles
now you have called it kin.
By Efstathios Karousos – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=110836760Panel da Anunciación, un dos cinco paneis que se conservan do retablo de Santa María de Pontevedra, tallado por Xácome de Prado ca. 1626. O retablo exponse no Museo de Pontevedra. By P.Lameiro – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38356072

Thieves and Lambs

For Advent, to the tune FINLANDIA:

When shall you come, a thief within the darkness,
marauding Lord, to catch me unawares?
My foolish heart locks doors and puts the bars up
and guards the house; my trustless soul prepares.
For I am one who knows betrayal's sharpness:
I am a thief.  Come to my door who dares.

You came here once and fell beside the highway
beneath the blows of murderers and thieves.
We waited long in dim and shadowed doorways,
with hardened hearts and daggers up our sleeves.
We spilled your blood and scattered to the byways,
before the wind, so many fallen leaves.

And will you come, a lamb that longs for slaughter?
Come yet again, a dead but holy fool
to fall as prey to your own sons and daughters
(the fate of lambs where ewes and rams are cruel)
among the rocks, your blood poured out as water?
It bubbles up, an overflowing pool!

I hide away, a thief within the shadows;
I bar the door and hope you pass me by—
to no avail.  You shatter all the windows
and stream inside, an ever-breaking light.
So here we stand, two lambs in endless meadows:
You walk ahead, I follow on behind.
Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, with gushing blood, detail of the Ghent AltarpieceJan van Eyck, c. 1432 – Jan van Eyck, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=691803

Jerusalem (Rage Hymning)

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;

    look to the east and see your children

gathered from the east and the west

    at the word of the Holy One,

    rejoicing that they are remembered by God.

Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:

    but God will bring them back to you

    borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.

For God has commanded

    that every lofty mountain be made low,

and that the age-old depths and gorges

    be filled to level ground,

    that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.

Baruch 5:1-9
Jerusalem, your streets are standing empty,
your children led away as spoils of war.
The walls that stood between you and the desert
have crumbled now, protecting you no more.

You say you've been abandoned by the Father,
though you had slain the best within your flock,
but you laid down your infants on the altar
and poured you people's blood upon the rocks.

When shall God look again upon your fasting
and offer you rewards to keep his ways?
When you have turned the deserts into pastures
and made it so your sheep may safely graze.

When you have turned the waste into a garden,
undammed the stream to let the flowers bloom,
oh, then and only then shall you have pardon.
Then light shall break upon you in your gloom.

Cast down your princes; lift up all your lowly,
and make at last a smooth and level way.
Throw out your idols—love your Maker wholly,
and see again the dawning of your day.
Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle of the destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian rule By Michel Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (Text: Hartmann Schedel) – Self-scanned, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1129601