Tuesday, November 01, 2005

For all the saints

Happy All Saints Day to all you saints! I love this day. When I think of church, I first and always think of the communion of saints, in the pews, across the world, in past centuries and the years to come. How wonderful to have a day in which you and I are counted among the greats like Blessed Julian, Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, Richard Hooker, Saint Teresa of Avila...

I went to church this morning for the Eucharist. Turned out there were only two saints there: the priest and me. That ended up being a special blessing. When you're the only one saying the responses, you remember that the service can't happen without a layperson there and realize you're creating the liturgy just as much as the celebrant. My priest and I chatted a little in between the elements of the service, which made for a lovely coming-together of the sacred and the ordinary, reminding me that the liturgy is, in a sense, conversation between those of us in the community and between the community and God.

And then I came home tonight and found some more All Saints Day riches here.

Yes, I know Ecclesiasticus is patriarchally incorrect, but just hear the glory of these words:

Let us now praise famous men,
And our fathers in their generations.
The Lord apportioned to them great glory,
his majesty from the beginning.
There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,
and were men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding,
and proclaiming prophecies;
leaders of the people in their deliberations
and in understanding of learning for the people,
wise in their words of instruction;
those who composed musical tunes,
and set forth verses in writing;
rich men furnished with resources,
living peaceably in their habitations --
all these were honored in their generations,
and were the glory of their times.

And then this litany of all the saints, which brought chills to my spine and tears to my eyes:

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be for ever blessed.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones present at our beginnings:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Abraham and Sarah,
Isaac and Rebecca,
Jacob and Rachel and Leah,
makers of the covenant, forebears of our race:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Elizabeth and Simeon,
Joseph, Monica and Helen,
exemplars in the love and care of children:
Stand Here Beside Us!

John the baptizer, map-maker of the Lord's coming:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might:
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, the one true Light.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who showed the good news to be the way of life:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Thomas the doubter;
Augustine of Canterbury;
Francis Xavier;
Samuel Joseph Schereschewsky;
all travelers who carried the Gospel to distant places:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Bernard and Dominic;
Catherine of Siena, the scourge of popes;
John and Charles Wesley, preachers in the streets;
all whose power of speaking gave life to the written word:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Benedict of Nursia,
Teresa of Avila;
Nicholas Ferrar;
Elizabeth Ann Seton;
Richard Meux Benson;
Charles de Foucauld;
all founders of communities:
Stand Here Beside Us!

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win, with them, the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who gave their lives to the care of others:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Louis, king of France;
Margaret, queen of Scotland;
Gandhi the mahatma, reproach to the churches;
Dag Hammarskjold the bureaucrat;
all who made governance an act of faith:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Peter of the keys, denier of the Lord;
Ambrose of Milan, who answered the Church's summons;
Hilda, abbess at Whitby;
Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, protector of the Jews;
Jean-Baptiste Vianney, cure d' Ars,
Patient hearer of catalogues of sins;
All faithful shepherds of the Master's flock:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Mary Magdalen, anointer of the Lord's feet;
Luke the physician;
Francis who kissed the leper;
Florence Nightingale;
Albert Schweitzer;
all who brought to the sick and suffering the hands of healing:
Stand Here Beside Us!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who made the proclaiming of God's love a work of art:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Pierluigi da Palestrina;
John Merbecke;
Johann Sebastian Bach;
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart;
Benjamin Britten;
Duke Ellington;
all who sang the Creator's praises in the language of the soul:
Stand Here Beside Us!

David and the Psalmists;
John Milton, sketcher of Paradise;
William Blake, builder of Jerusalem;
John Mason Neale, preserver of the past;
all poets of the celestial vision:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Zaccheus the tree-climber;
Brother Lawrence;
Therese of Lisieux, the little flower;
Andrew of Glasshampton;
all cultivators of holy simplicity:
Stand Here Beside Us!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones haunted by the justice and mercy of God:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Amos of Tekoa, who held up the plumbline;
John Wycliffe, who brought the Scripture to the common folk;
John Hus and Menno Simons, generals in the Lamb's war;
Martin Luther, who could do no other;
George Fox, foe of steeple-houses;
all who kept the Church ever-reforming:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Paul the apostle, transfixed by noonday light;
Augustine of Hippo, God's city planner;
Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin, architects of the divine;
Charles Williams, teacher of coinherence;
Karl Barth, knower of the unknowable;
all who saw God at work and wrote down what they saw:
Stand Here Beside Us!

John, the seer of Patmos;
Anthony of the desert;
Julian, the anchoress of Norwich;
Hildegarde, the sybil of the Rhine;
Meister Eckardt;
Bernadette of Lourdes;
all who were called to see the Master's face:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Joachim of Fiora, prophet of the new age;
Johnny Appleseed, mad planter of Eden;
Sojourner Truth, pilgrim of justice;
Benedict Joseph Labre, priest and panhandler;
all whose love for God was beyond containment:
Stand Here Beside Us!

The golden evening brightens in the West;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who died in witness to the Christ:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Stephen the deacon, the first martyr, stoned in Jerusalem:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Justin, Ignatius and Polycarp, who refused the incense to Caesar:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Perpetua and Felicity, torn by beasts in the arena at Carthage:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley,
Burned in Oxford:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein, put to death at Auschwitz:
Stand Here Beside Us!

James Reeb, Jonathan Daniels, Michael Schwerner,
Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo, shot in the South:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Martin Luther King, shot in Memphis:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Janani Luwum, shot in Kampala:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Oscar Romero, shot in San Salvador:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Martyrs of Rome, of Lyons, of Japan, of Eastern Equatorial
Africa, of Uganda, of Melanesia,
martyrs of everywhere:
Stand Here Beside Us!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on his way.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones of every time and place:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Glorious company of heaven:
Stand Here Beside Us!

All climbers of the ladder of Paradise:
Stand Here Beside Us!

All runners of the celestial race:
Stand Here Beside Us!

[The people may call out saints' names]

Great cloud of witnesses:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Mary most holy, chief of the saints:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Mary most holy, yes-sayer to God:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Mary most holy, unmarried mother:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Mary most holy, gate of heaven and ark of the covenant:
Stand Here Beside Us!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus our liberator, creator of all:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Jesus our liberator, redeemer of all:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Jesus our liberator, sanctifier of all:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Jesus our liberator, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and
the end:
Stand Here Beside Us!

Amen, amen.


At 12:04 PM, Blogger Sophia said...

I am speechless. What a moving litany. I am going to add it to my pile of prayers, liturgies, and odds and ends I am collecting to be used someday in the future.

I really must stop reading blogs at work. It is not good to get choked up in the cubicle farm.

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey!! I am thinking about coming to St. M's on Sunday. Can you drop me a line at hhthompson at gmail dot com??


At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? no Gene Robinson? no Jack Spong? no Barbra Harris?

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Anna said...

No, and no "Anonymous Negative Commenters, Stand Here Beside Us" either.


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