The entrance hymn is When John Baptized by Jordan’s River, which is strangely hard to sing, but I’m not sure why. I keep wanting to hold the half-notes at all the wrong places. Maybe the rhythm of the lines confuses me because they’re longer than I’m used to, some nine syllables? Either that or it’s the mixture of words written by an apparently still living author (at least when this edition of the Worship hymnal was published), and the semi-ancient tune, one Rendez à Dieu, from the sixteenth century. And the language change as well? It’s twentieth century English words to a sixteenth century French tune. Whatever, I’m a bit flummoxed by it.
A few minutes later, instead of the Confiteor, we get the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water. The choir sings Asperges Me, which is the Latin for sprinkle me. Don’t it sound so much nicer in Latin? Just the word sprinkle to me is somewhat unseemly. Don’t like it. But I suppose the Latin Asperges reminds me of Asperger syndrome, which isn’t especially good either. Although the syndrome doesn’t have anything to do with water or anything, it being named for the doctor who described it and all. Anyway.
The second reading has St. Peter, from Acts, saying, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” I always love references to these sorts of things beyond our own little selves. Beyond thinking that I know what to do or how to act or how to tell anyone else how to act. I always feel like I’m probably going to step into grand heresy when I think these things, but let’s call it a sort of sola gratia thing. Except of course Peter explicitly backs up the sola gratia with a slice of sola fide and a dash of meritum as well. So what do I know?
The first reading and the Gospel reading both include references to God being pleased. First, from good old Isaiah:
Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased
And then, for this day of course, the Lord’s baptism, from St. Matthew:
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
There’s later stuff from the Isaiah reading that makes me wonder, though. Makes me wonder about the parallel between this passage and with Christ.
[H]e shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
Not that they have to exactly correspond, really, the chosen one from Isaiah and the annointed one from the New Testament. I guess the not making his voice heard in the street made me think of, and contrast to, the Palm Sunday scene, where Jesus goes very deliberately and provocatively riding into Jerusalem. Either way, though, what could be lovelier than:
[A] bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
And the recessional hymn works a whole lot better for me. Songs of Thankfulness and Praise, with nineteenth century words and seventeenth century tune, with harmony by J.S. Bach no less.