Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Embertide Hymn

A Hymn for Embertide

I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here I am; send me. –Isaiah 6:8

Lord of hosts, enthroned in glory,
   Holy, Holy, Holy, Three;
Thou whose will doth order all things,
   Thou whose service maketh free:
Meanest men and brightest angels
   Wait alike the word from thee.

Now thou speakest—hear we trembling—
   From the glory comes a voice—
“Who accepts th’Almighty’s mission?
   Who will make Christ’s work his choice?
Who for us proclaim to sinners,
   ‘Turn, believe, endure, rejoice?’”

Here are we, Redeemer, send us!
   But because thy work is fire,
And our lips, unclean and earthly,
   Breathe no breath of high desire;
Bid thy seraph from thine altar
   Brand us, purge us, heal, inspire.

Thou didst come that fire to kindle;
   Fain would we thy torches prove,
Far and wide thy beacons lighting
   With th’undying spark of love:
Only feed our flame, we pray thee,
   With thy breathings from above.

Now to God, the soul’s Creator,
   To his Word and Wisdom sure,
To his all-enlightening Spirit,
   Patron of the frail and poor,
Three in One, be praise and glory,
   Here, and while the heavens endure.

—John Keble

This hymn, though written in the nineteenth century for a theological college training persons to be ordained, expresses (in admittedly Victorian language) truth for all Christians, lay or ordained, to consider during the Embertides.

Keble writes of a deep desire to lay down one’s life in the service of a light so bright, cleansing, and warming that no other light can compare. This hymn also reminds us that a minister of the Gospel can do nothing—nothing at all—apart from the Holy Spirit. Do we believe this? Is this the aim of our life?

The renewal of this love, this humility, is what we pray for each Embertide—for all who minister in the Name of Christ.

Collects for the Ministry (Ember Days)

For use on the traditional days or at other times:

I.  For those to be ordained

Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, in your divine providence you have appointed various orders in your Church: Give your grace, we humbly pray, to all who are [now] called to any office and ministry for your people; and so fill them with the truth of your doctrine and clothe them with holiness of life, that they may faithfully serve before you, to the glory of your great Name and for the benefit of your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II.  For the choice of fit persons for the ministry

O God, you led your holy apostles to ordain ministers in every place: Grant that your Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may choose suitable persons for the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and may uphold them in their work for the extension of your kingdom; through him who is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

III. For all Christians in their vocation

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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