As Advent unfolds, and we continue to watch and wait, this ancient hymn calls to us: let all mortal flesh keep silence!
Silence is so difficult. Silence is so foreign. Silence is so … abnormal! But sometimes, silence is exactly what is required.
This text is a poetic rendering of Habakuk 2:20, “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Its earliest use was in the Byzantine liturgy, dating from about AD 245. The English translation of the Greek text shifts the emphasis toward the miracle of incarnation, a slight, but significant shift from the original, which was clearly a Eucharistic hymn focusing on Christ’s sacrifice, and presence in the bread and cup. Despite its establishment now as an Advent hymn, when we hear these words, we cannot help but be immersed in the whole story, from the separation of light and dark through the final celebration of the Lord Most High!
Our waiting is almost complete … let us keep silence, for the baby will soon be here.
(I found some interesting arrangements this week…enjoy!)
Text: Gerard Moultrie
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; Ponder nothing earthly minded, For with blessing is 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 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-winged seraph, Cherubim, with sleepless eye, Veil their faces to His presence as with ceaseless voice they cry: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Lord Most High!