Monday, August 6, 2012

The Mystical Light of the Transfiguration

 Light imagery is the stock-and-trade of mysticism and today’s Feast of the Transfiguration is one of the great days of light.  The Breviary hymns for today present a wealth of imagery for contemplation.  We hear of the “deathless light” that “drew earth from primal void,” of the happiness of  “he who tastes your rays;” and, my favorite, the “bright the mystery … older far than heaven or hell.”

It seems a good day to mix the words with some old photos of stained glass from St. Denis and Notre Dame in Paris and from the Cathedrals of Lyon and Clermont. 

These windows were known as the "Bibles of the Poor" for their ability to teach the truths of the Christian faith to those who saw them.  On this feast of light and radiance, they may surpass the texts in conveying the truth under the words.

All you who yearn the Christ to see,
Uplift your eyes exultingly
Eternal glory’s symbol there
To your astonished gaze lies bare.

Exceeding bright the mystery
To us revealed, that knows no end,
Celestial, everlasting, high,
And older far than heaven or hell.

We there the Gentile’s King behold,
The King of His own Israel;
To Abraham once promised,
And all his seed, while ages ran.

To Him, foretold by prophets old,
Again by prophets witnessed here,
The Father’s greater witness bids
Us listen, and with faith adore.

To Thee, O Lord be glory given,
Revealing thus Thyself today,
With Father and with Spirit one,
Forever and forevermore. Amen.

Quicumque Christum quaeritis
(All You Who Yearn the Christ to See)
Hymn of Vigils of the Transfiguration

Jesus, Love incarnate,
Whose sweetness burns with light,
Shatter darkness of my heart,
Consume my soul in joy.

Son of Light, how happy
He who tastes Your rays:
Eternal radiance, light surpassing
Man’s desire and hope.

Splendour of the Father,
Love that spurns all bounds,
Come to me, impart Your fullness,
All that love can grant.

Glory, Lord to You,
Made known to all this day,
With Father and the Holy Spirit,
Endless ages through. Amen.
Amor Jesu dulcissime
(Jesus, Love Incarnate)
Hymn of Lauds of the Transfiguration

Who thirsts for light, and seeks
The Lord, should look on high.
From Thabor’s heights, light trembles, floods
Our shadow-land with day.

Light that springs from Light
Outspanning space and time,
Deathless Light, Whose living rays
Drew earth from primal void.

Light that shepherds nations,
Rules the Chosen Race;
Long-promised Seed of Abraham
Whom ages hail Lord!

Moses and Elias
See Whom they foretold.
The Father speaks, commands the world
To hear and own His Son.

Glory, Lord , to You,
Made known to all this day,
With Father and the Holy Spirit
Endless ages through. Amen. 
Quicumque Christum quaeritis
(Who Thirsts for Light, and Seeks)
Hymn of Vespers for the Transfiguration