About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark has served since 1989 as Music Director and Organist at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. For the Archdiocese of Boston, he directed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola. His compositions have been performed on four continents.
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When you consider that the greatest hymns ever written—the plainchant hymns—are pushing the age of eight hundred and that the noble chorale hymn tunes of Bach date from the early eighteenth century, then what is the significance of the word “old” applied to “Mother at Thy Feet Is Kneeling”? Most of the old St. Basil hymns date from the Victorian era, particularly the 1870s and 1880s.
— Paul Hume (1956)

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“Immense in the form of God, tiny in the form of a slave”
published 23 December 2016 by Richard J. Clark

UCH HAS BEEN reported about Pope Francis’ recent address to the Curia regarding a process of reform.

But perhaps the most impactful part of his address was inspired by Saint Augustine, as Pope Francis described Christmas as “the feast of the loving humility of God.”

From the first part of his address:

Saint Augustine, contemplating the face of the Baby Jesus, exclaimed: “immense in the form of God, tiny in the form of a slave”. To describe the mystery of the Incarnation, Saint Macarius, the fourth-century monk and disciple of Saint Anthony Abbot, used the Greek verb “smikryno”, to become small, to reduce to the bare minimum. He says: “Listen attentively: the infinite, unapproachable and uncreated God, in his immense and ineffable goodness has taken a body, and, I dare say, infinitely diminished his glory”.

Christmas is thus the feast of the loving humility of God, of the God who upsets our logical expectations, the established order, the order of the dialectician and the mathematician. In this upset lies all the richness of God’s own thinking, which overturns our limited human ways of thinking (cf. Is 55: 8-9). As Romano Guardini said: “What an overturning of all our familiar values – not only human values but also divine values! Truly this God upsets everything that we claim to build up on our own”. At Christmas, we are called to say “yes” with our faith, not to the Master of the universe, and not even to the most noble of ideas, but precisely to this God who is the humble lover.

Blessed Paul VI, on Christmas of 1971, said: “God could have come wrapped in glory, splendour, light and power, to instill fear, to make us rub our eyes in amazement. But instead he came as the smallest, the frailest and weakest of beings. Why? So that no one would be ashamed to approach him, so that no one would be afraid, so that all would be close to him and draw near him, so that there would be no distance between us and him. God made the effort to plunge, to dive deep within us, so that each of us, each of you, could speak intimately with him, trust him, draw near him and realize that he thinks of you and loves you… He loves you! Think about what this means! If you understand this, if you remember what I am saying, you will have understood the whole of Christianity”.

God chose to be born a tiny child because he wanted to be loved. (emphasis added)

OPE FRANCIS’ WORDS punctuate that Christmas celebrates the Word Incarnate. The Word lives in flesh among us.

As church musicians, it is our foremost duty to produce sacred music in which the Word is preeminent. The Word drives composition. Not sentiment. Not my personal feelings, but the Word of God. This is our mandate.

But this “mandate” or responsibility leads us to a personal relationship. Rev. Peter Breemen, S. J. states, “The Gospel is a Person. Perfection means to follow Jesus Christ, to accept the friendship of Christ.” (As Bread That is Broken, pg. 101)

Jesus came to dwell among us because he loves us. The baby Jesus was vulnerable. The adult Jesus was even more so.

Remember always John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.