Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lord God Almighty

Our small group is reading A Lifetime Road to God (1977) by Donald J. Parsons (1922-2016). The Anglo-Catholic credentials of Abp. Parson are impeccable: president and dean of Nashotah House (1963-1973), and then bishop of Quincy (1973-1987) when it was one of the four doctrinally orthodox Episcopal Synod of America dioceses in ECUSA.

In Chapter 5 (“Prayer and Christian Growth”), he lists five types of personal prayer. The final item provides the best explanation I’ve ever seen for prayers of adoration:
[A]doration is praising God for being what He is, worshipping Him not because of what He has done or may yet do, but just because He is God. Adoration is the highest and most unselfish type of prayer. Excellent examples are the Sanctus in the Communion Service, the first part of the Te Deum, and several of the prayers. To adore God is to become more truly and completely what we are intended to be, since the creature finds fulfillment in singing the praise of the Creator.
With that definition, I looked for matching hymns in my Hymnal 1940. From Abp. Parsons’ taxonomy, we would start with the Sanctus, in the original (or Sanctus+Benedictus) versions:
  • #704 (#796) the original 1550 Sanctus by John Merbecke from his Booke of Common Praier Noted, which provided service music for the Cranmer original but was forgotten until the 19th century Oxford Movement.
  • #711 (#797) from the Healey Willan Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena
  • #721 (#798) the 14th century plainsong, adapted by Winfred Douglas in the 1915 Missa Marialis
These three are in the original, more accurate Cranmer text (“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”) as opposed to the 20th century bowdlerization (“Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might”).

Under the topical index, “The Praise of God” (#278-315) seems to come closest to this topic, although the “Majesty of God” seems even better. Some possible favorites:
  • #53 Songs of thankfulness and praise
  • #266 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty — the ultimate Trinity Sunday hymn
  • #279 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
  • #282 Praise my soul, the King of heaven
  • #285 The God of Abraham praise
  • #289 O God our help in ages past
  • #325 O for a thousand tongues to sing
  • #523 God the Omnipotent!
  • #551 A mighty fortress
Of course, if I were a CCM friendly liturgist, I’d add “How great is our God.” But I’m not, so I won’t.

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