Gottesdienst
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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

The Visitation B.V.M.

Oddly, we missed something liturgical in our current issue of Gottesdienst, which is on its way to mailboxes around the world even as I write. In this issue one will find a sermon by St. Cyril of Alexandria appointed for the Third Sunday after Trinity. And if a pastor were to get the current issue, say, in today's mail, he might think, Oh, good, this will help me prepare for this coming Sunday.

Now if one is planning to observe the Third Sunday after Trinity this coming Sunday, July 2nd, we will register no complaint, particularly if it means he is following the Historic Lectionary. So let's stipulate that for the record.

But technically the rules of the sanctoral cycle . . .

(I can hear it already: There you go with your rules again! Rules, rules, rules! Please, spare us the lecture, and yourself the breath it would require. Everything has rules of some kind or another, no? Rules govern how you play the piano too, but that doesn't prevent you from banging away in some indiscriminate fashion should you choose to do so, even if it might sound horrible; rules govern your bedtime routine, but if you alter those no harm has been done, except that it might affect how you sleep; there are all kinds of rules for all kinds of occasions. We are not calling these divine rules. These are just some of the traditional rules that the Western church used to follow with some regularity once upon a time.)

. . . the rules of the sanctoral cycle do happen to count July 2nd as the (traditional) date to observe the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and since this Feast, though a second-class Feast, is a Feast of our Lord, it therefore takes precedence over a Sunday after Trinity and should be observed instead. This is actually reflected in our 2017 calendar, which you should have received last December: it goes out with our Christmas issue every year..

So, if it's not too late, and you should feel so inclined, go ahead and celebrate the Feast of the Visitation B.V.M. this Sunday.

And I'd hazard a guess that your people might even appreciate it. You might even choose, besides the Magnificat hymn (LSB 935 / TLH 275), a Christmas carol or two, such as "Of the Father's Love Begotten." Or this little hymn, written and composed some eight years ago by your humble scribe. It's also more of a Christmas hymn, but it works for this Feast, I think.

Blogger doesn't allow a better image than the one pasted below, so I'll list the lyrics to "Of Mary Was Our Lord and God." here. Stanza 7 is John Riley's, from "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones," whose melody could be used, with alleluias. My own melody is also below. It's in Long Meter.

Of Mary was our Lord and God
Conceived from woman's flesh and blood,
Who knew no man, a virgin pure:
The second Eve bears Eden's cure.

2 As woman once brought forth from man
Was first to sin and so was banned,
Now Man is born from her and He
Restores her lost integrity.

3 She cradles her beloved Son -
The Son of God, thrice holy One.
So small is He, so low His birth,
Who cradles all in heav'n and earth.

4 Serene He lies at Mary’s breast.
Who is Himself eternal Rest
O holy blest nativity,
How wondrous is this mystery!

5 And in her motherhood we find
A pattern tranquil, meek, and kind
Reflected in her sorr’wing eyes,
The hope of heav’nly Paradise.

6 To woman now is giv’n a place
Of honor, dignity and grace
She bears the Lord, so shall she be
Blest lady for eternity.

7 O higher than the cherubim
More glorious than the seraphim
Thou bearer of th’eternal Word
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.

8 All glory to the Father be
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
Whom with the Spirit we adore
Forever and forevermore. Amen.