Sun 8 Nov 2009
Ancient words, chanted once in the depths of Roman catacombs,
Enchant us still and speak for us.
Where we would be speechless,
Be you the words upon our lips.
And let us cry out with fourth century Jerusalem,
Fifth century Rome, sixteenth century Wittenburg,
And twenty-first century Seoul, Abuja and Brasilia,
Ours is one voice, though many tongues;
Altered in form yet unaltered in meaning.
Here the Word speaks over us.
Here the Word speaks into us.
And we in return respond in unison.
With angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven,
With seraphim and cherubim, and all the saints quick and dead,
With the living creatures, and all the holy catholic and apostolic church,
Praise we the Name.
What is this text that survives centuries and cultures and civilizations?
What these words that they grip us still?
Are they not of human origin?
Human-crafted, yes, but drawn from divine logos,
And infused by the Spirit with his message,
A message that bids us come experience grace anew.
We do not speak these ancient words by mere rote.
We speak them by heart:
Reciting, repeating, reiterating changeless truths,
Until we at last we are drawn up from these catacombs
To join in undying worship with the faithful of all generations –
Those with whom we worship even now as we speak ancient words.
Mathew A. Block
November 8, 2009