Monthly Archives: April 2007

Poetry for Triduum

One of the quintessential reflection pieces for me on Good Friday and Holy Saturday is the Old English poem Dream of the Rood. We’re not really sure when or where it was written; bits of it appear in runes on the Ruthwell Cross–but we’re not sure when they were carved on it. Its purpose may be the same as the great hymn of yesterday, the Pange Ligua which Fortunatus wrote to celebrate a piece of the true cross coming to Frankland.

In any case, here’s the original, and here’s a Modern English translation.

Lent and Atonement Theories

As Holy Week progresses some blogs (Fr. Jake among others) are visiting the usual theologies of the atonement. Responses tend to fall along fairly predictable lines…

So–I’ll throw something completely different in the mix but in a similar vein: a thought about Lent. As you know, the First Sunday in Lent always features the Temptation account. Under the old system it was always Matt 4:1-11. Gregory’s sermon is a fascinating one. He skips his usual line-by-line approach, preferring instead a more thematic approach. What he does is to talk about the Fall in the Garden. Adam, he says, fell prey to three temptations and so humanity fell under the devil’s control. By way of contrast, Christ–the second Adam–was tempted not in a garden but in a wasteland. There he faced the same three tests but instead of being overcome, overcame. Christ in that exchange conquer the devil’s three greatest temptations by purely human means, preeminently in the correct and appropriate interpretation of Scripture.

By constructing his interpretation this way, Gregory shows the temptation episode to be one of Christ’s salvific acts. While it may not be atonement in the conventional sense, it certainly does cut to God’s victory over the devil and the liberation of humanity. Furthermore, it highlights the salvific acts that occurred throughout Christ’s life–not just at the end.

Think on these things, on the imitation of Christ and the cultivation of virtue in these final days before Triduum…

Update:  More people have jumped in on this conversation on other blogs. I just want to hold one minor thing up for our recollection… We’re the Episcopal Church, right? The one where it’s often said that we have no fixed theology, we just agree to worship with the same texts? Yeah, well, whenever things heat up between the substitutionary atonement and moral influence crowds, I like to remind them that there really is a classical Anglican position on this and here it is:

Almighty God, who has given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

That from the 1662 BCP, appointed for the Second Sunday of Easter. You’ll find in in the ’79 book at Proper 15…

Chant Posts from Comrades

bls has linked to the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society. For those unfamiliar with the group, you may recognize the name of Walter Frere, Anglican priest (was he a bishop too? I forget…) and liturgist. He’s one of the biggest names associated with the group and is due a great debt of gratitude for his work on Medieval English Music. Anyway, great stuff including a nice catalog of current stuff in print (in pounds, though…)

Chris has given us some goodies of his own: music for the Compline hymns according to the texts of the Anglican Breviary and the Antiphonale from NLM.He’s using TeX for it–a system that I’ve heard about peripherally but am basically unfamiliar with. After seeing these pdfs I may need to give it a serious look…