Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

The headlines on the news scream disaster, struggle, violence, and hatred.  The world stage is filled with uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Innocent people are slaughtered mercilessly; politicians rage at each other, and even the church seems filled with discord and division. Temptations to fear and despair close in from every side.

I worry about the future. I worry about the world my children are growing up in. I wonder what type of society they will raise their own children in. I pray for our safety and our security. Most of all I pray for peace. 

This Christmas, I find that it is the hauntingly beautiful ancient hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" that whispers peace and comfort into my anxious heart.

It's full lyrics read:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.
At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

In meditating upon this hymn, which dates back as early as the third century, I find myself comforted once again by the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord - the mystery of Christmas. It is in this mystery that the Lord descends to become one of us, in order that "the power of hell may vanish".  The Holy Family is not alone in that cave in Bethlehem - they are surrounded by the hosts of angels who are prostrate before the King of Kings. Those same angels surround every altar at every Mass worshipping the Lord as he makes himself our "heavenly food". The Lord has not abandoned or forsaken us - he remains with us, truly  present in the Eucharist.

The opening stanza invites us to "keep silence and ponder nothing earthly minded." This Christmas, instead of focusing my attention on the wind and the waves which seem to threaten the world, I will instead turn my gaze in silence to the Lord who is really present in the Blessed Sacrament, as present as he was in the manger 2000 years ago.  It is in Him that I place my trust and it is with the angels that I will join my voice of worship and sing: "Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia, Lord Most High."

Click below for a  beautiful arrangement of this hymn:


1 comment:

  1. Love this beautiful reflection. This song definitely brings about the beautiful gift of peace. Thank you for sharing!!