The Coming of Christ, the Golden Blossom
November 30, 2016 Leave a comment
Advent is, for Christians, a time of waiting, in some ways, it is like Lent, but not exactly, here we await the birth of the Lord, and by extension, his return in Glory. It is the time of beginning, of promise. My favorite Clerk gave us Sunday, a homily from an anonymous Anglo-Saxon author, in the Blickling homilies, and is likely from the tenth century. Quite remarkable and amazing.
‘Dearly beloved, we have often heard tell of the noble advent of our Lord, how he began himself to intervene in this world, as patriarchs said and proclaimed, as prophets prophesied and praised, as psalmists sang and said, that he would come from the kingly throne of his glorious realm here into this world, and would take for himself all kingdoms into his own keeping. All that was fulfilled after the heavens broke open and the supreme power descended into this earth, and the Holy Spirit dwelt in the noble womb, in the best bosom, in the chosen treasure-chamber, and in that holy breast he dwelt for nine months. Then the queen of all virgins bore the true Creator, Comforter of all people, Saviour of all the world, Preserver of all spirits, Helper of all souls. Then the golden blossom came into this world, and received a human body from St Mary, the spotless virgin. Through that birth we were saved, and through that child-bearing we were redeemed; through that union we were freed from the exactions of devils, and through that advent we were honoured and enriched and endowed.
And afterwards the Lord Christ dwelt here in the world with men, and showed them many miracles which he worked in front of them. He intended lovingly to heal them and teach them mercy. They were stony-hearted and blind, so that they could not comprehend what they heard there, nor could they understand what they saw there; but then the Almighty God removed for them that wrongful veil from their hearts and shone upon them with enlightened understanding, so that they could understand and know how he descended into this world to be their helper and healer and refuge. Afterwards he opened for them the ears of compassion, and kindled faith in them, and manifested his mercy and made known his kinship to them. Before that we had been made orphans, because we were deprived of the heavenly kingdom and were put out of the original… [text missing in the manuscript] Christ lives and reigns with all holy souls, eternally without end, for ever and ever. Amen.’
What beautiful writing (the translation too), and as accurate as anything ever written on Advent, but here the imagination and verve of the language is simply remarkable.
This is her translation, and it sums thing up admirably. She says that the original would have been quite beautiful when read or spoken aloud. I suspect she is correct. Anglo-Saxon English is very often even better to listen to than to read. It was a time of the spoken and sung word, reading not so much, for reasons which I hope are fairly clear. That is true of other times as well, one of the reasons the King James Bible is so loved is that it was specifically designed to be spoken aloud. An amazing language, and it is no less amazing to see this homily written over a thousand years ago, and still as relevant as it was then.
via A Clerk of Oxford: The Coming of Christ, the Golden Blossom Do read it all, as usual, exceptionally well done.