Sunday, November 1, 2015

All Saints Day 2015

Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven         Fra Angelico, 15th Century, Italy

On All Saints Day, Christians remember the faithful who have passed on to the glorious company of the saints in light. It has been observed since the 4th century after Christ and remains a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church. Over time, the original purpose of All Saints Day changed and, by the Middle Ages, "saints became the objects of prayers and petitions for merit before God." Seeing Christ "as the only source of forgiveness, [Martin Luther] cleansed the church of this abuse of the saints" but retained the holy day in the church calendar. He made his statement by nailing his 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, ensuring that they would be seen by crowds of worshipers the following day. Today, the celebration of the beginning of the Reformation on October 31 often overshadows All Saints Day in the Lutheran Church, but the days are often celebrated concurrently during Sunday worship.

Our music for this day is Ralph Vaughan Williams's setting - Sine Nomine - for the processional hymn, For All the Saints, written by William Walsham How.

Most versions omit several verses that I believe are most relevant to our time. They are:
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

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!

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!

Here is a prayer for today:

Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one Holy church, the body of Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow the example of your blessed saints in lives of faith and willing service and with them at last inherit the inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ our Lord....



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