A Feastday Gift
A number of years ago, I composed music for a French Office hymn for the feast of Saint Andrew. It was a feastday gift for Dom André of Rougemont. The text spoke to me very powerfully. A haunting 4th mode melody for it came to me all at once, in a kind of stream of inspiration.
O Goodly Cross
Why was I so touched by the text of this hymn when I first discovered it? I have long loved the feast of Saint Andrew and meditated the stupendous Magnificat Antiphon: “When blessed Andrew came to the place where the Cross had been prepared, he cried out and said: O goodly Cross, so long desired, and now made ready for my eager spirit; fearless and joyful do I come to you; therefore, receive me also gladly, as the disciple of him who hung upon you.” There was something else too: in the text of the hymn were many things deeply related to my own life experience.
Here, then, for the readers of Vultus Christi, is my translation the hymn. You may want to read it as a kind of meditatio, a way of repeating the Word in other words. This hymn has been a gift for many; may it speak to your hearts as compellingly as it first spoke to mine.
Where then is Thy dwelling,
O Lamb of God who invitest us?
Could it already be the tenth hour
for the disciple set on seeking Thee?
For who can know the day, and who can know the hour
when Thou wilt turn to us and say:
Come and see!
The joy of meeting Thee
is a brightness that transfigures:
in this world’s dreary night a flame
of Thy Pascha’s dazzling light.
Shine, then, and overcome our darkness,
that we may hear the inward whisper:
Jesus is Lord!
Filled now with Thy presence,
God, our every dawn indwelling,
to all who seek Thee, we would announce
a burning joy, an incandescence.
Thou alone canst tell us
how that cry first pierced the silence:
Blessèd those who believe!
How can we follow Thee, O Lord,
with the faith of those fishers of men?
In this night of catching nothing
we would believe that still, for us, Thy hands are full.
Stand again on this our shore,
and cry to us once more:
Cast the net!
On the threshold of Thy dwelling
Thy Cross will be our sign;
for each apostle will have his hour
just as Thou didst have Thine.
Stay with us, God, our Master,
to sing in each of Thy disciples:
Hail, Cross of Life!