Symbolism, numbers and a little mathematics are required
for a thorough understanding of the scriptures, the liturgical year and the
feast days of the Church. Some in the Protestant world will disagree with me,
and I’m sure this was not all directly dictated by God. It just adds up this
And Christians who worship in the liturgical tradition
prefer things to make sense. As an extreme J-type on the Myers-Briggs test, I
Looking slightly back, 40 days comprise the season of Lent.
Not to be outdone, Eastertide is 50 days, also known as The Great Fifty Days of
Easter. The Day of Pentecost (penta = five)
conveniently occurs 50 days after Easter Day. However, the Ascension occurs just
before Pentecost on the 40th day after Easter Day, which by the weekly calendar
is, therefore, always a Thursday.
(Perhaps at this point in this blog I should insert a flow
chart for explanation.)
Some feast days of the Church, namely All Saints’ and
Ascension Day, may traditionally be celebrated on the Sunday following, which
brings us to this Sunday (May 8), the Sunday after the Ascension. In the
lessons for this Sunday, we will find heavens, clouds, angels and lots of
glory, all appropriate to the Ascension of the Lord.
As a planned-ahead choir director, I often joke about
hitting the nail on the head liturgically, and this Sunday’s 10:30 anthem is
one of those occasions. Our worship tradition is, indeed, so very rich, and the
interplay of themes, readings, and music makes it so. I am convinced that God
speaks to us always, if not a little more poignantly when the readings and
music are tightly wired together.
The text of Henry Purcell’s (1659-1695) anthem “O God, the
King of glory” is the Collect for the Sunday after the Ascension verbatim. At
the beginning of the liturgy, you will hear the Celebrant pray this collect in
a contemporary form, and the Parish Choir will sing these very words in their
O God, the King of
glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph into heaven:
We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless, but send to us thine Holy Ghost to
comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place where our Saviour Christ is gone
before us. Amen.
Image from The Dilettante Curator.