I’m in the final stages of edits for my next book, the one on prayer book spirituality. It finally has a title: Inwardly Digest: The Prayer Book as Guide to a Spiritual Life.
As I went through the section on the Calendar yesterday morning, I realized that while I’d talked about the hymns in some seasons, I’d left others out. So–I spent some time with the hymnal, and put together some thoughts on those.
In going through that exercise, I was reminded just how much the early hymns of the West, those by Ambrose, Gregory, Venantius Fortunatus, Caelius Sedulius, and the the early anonymous compositions connect Scripture, liturgy, and doctrinal themes into a seamless sonic package.
When I think and write about the ways that liturgy provides interpretive lenses for both Scripture and Christian experience, I think these hymns play a particularly important role in not just making some foundational connections but handing them down and keeping them alive.
Meditation on these early Office hymns, what they teach us, and how they teach it is just as much a part of our patristic heritage as doctrinal treatises…