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For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sing, My Tongue

This is one of the stanzas from Venantius Fortunatus' Pange lingua gloriosi

Lo! He lies an Infant weeping,
Where the narrow manger stands,
While the mother-maid His members
Wraps in mean and lowly bands,
And the swaddling clothes is winding
Round His helpless feet and hands.

It is an Office Hymn for Passiontide: the Cross echoes the tight wooden manger, the swaddling bands Jesus' shroud, His weakness in death His helpless infancy. There is something terrible about this juxtaposition of Birth and Death, something devastating in Mary's tending those limbs of the Child and now the Man, that ploughs a furrow in the soul more deep than any direct approach to the trammels of the Crucifixion.

Triumph comes not without a trial of the seeming lucid rationality of despair.