2007/10/31

Almost audible

Can you hear it this year? Every once in awhile, in a rare moment, I can almost catch the edges of the sound. It is the sound of a pitched battle, but we do not see it. We can't. Mortal eyes aren't strong enough.

It's the season, you see. At the end of September, we ask St. Michael and All Angels to come with us into the gathering darkness. The days shorten. The darkness gains in strength. And even on the sunny days the shadows are sharper.

Sense sharpens too. If you are very very still inside yourself, you might, in this season of the ancient battle, catch the last echoes of the whisper at the very outer edges of the war. Every year, it comes again, and every year it comes close enough to us that we can almost hear it.

Abide With Me

Abide With Me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Henry F. Lyte

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

3 comments:

Di said...

Great reminder - and it's also good to remember that today's All Saints Day, and that we're part of the current and future battles, but never alone. One of my own favorite hymns is Bishop How's For All the Saints, set to the Vaughan Williams tune - I can't choose a favorite verse, but one that's a good one is this:

"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!"

Stephanie said...

Yes, Di ... and when I talk about this with my Sunday School class, we always talk about the war that happens, and St. Michael leading the troops, and the very important part of how helpless and in need of strength and courage and trust and obedience we are. Otherwise we could get hurt out there!

"Christian, dost thou see them?" I love that one too. But the Vaughan Williams "For all the saints" is just about the most glorious of hymns in the whole book!

Douglas Bienert said...

That hymn reminds me of Evensong at summer camp and has to be one of my favourites. I think I even sang it at the ranch camp in Canada.

At least SHE didn't sing that hymn. Fortunately, ONLY "lord thou art in the midst of us..." has been forever tainted. Can one cringe and giggle at the same time?