The Three Miracles of John Henry Newman (Part I)

Due to constraints involving both time and energy (I am physically ill, while also getting ready to attend Midnight Mass with a friend), I need to divide this year’s Christmas reflection into two or more shorter parts. The theme of this year’s reflection will be hope, and mostly it will track experiments with different styles of devotion/spirituality, with John Henry Newman occupying a central role. I hadn’t really planned this for my theme, but Newman and his intercession keep finding their way into any story I might tell, so I might as well go along with it and organize my account in that manner.

Despite illness and a few dark clouds, it’s turning into a hopeful Christmas. It may sound superstitious to say so, but the house itself seems to know the time of year and my presence in it, and there’s been a definite uptick in the number of odd visions and auditions perceived by both myself and the renters upstairs. My upstairs roommate thought to ask me “Your grandmother, busy for Christmas?” before I thought to make the connection. Maybe she isn’t wrong. Friends have been eager to organize Midnight Mass and a pseudo-family meal with me, even though I would have been too sick up until roughly tonight to benefit from the gesture. My sleep schedule is seriously off between illness and end-of-semester stress, but not so much as to keep me from the family tradition of listening to a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols for Advent from King’s College Cambridge on public radio early this morning – normally a pretty challenging endeavor requiring the coordination of several alarm clocks. Spot-on Anglo-Catholic ceremonial from one of Britain’s ancient universities, tugging at the heart and giving hope in the way that fussy old liturgies from the Oxford Movement and the Book of Common Prayer only seem to manage. The BBC. Tradition. Our family always doing this thing for Christmas because we’ve always done it this way at Christmas. Britishness, although marginal (Anglophile American of mixed Scandinavian/Eastern European and Scots-Irish “Ulster Scot” Border Reiver blood). Universities that are seats of the church, and seats of the church which are universities. Nashotah House. The Oxford Movement John Henry Newman. All that music, a perfected union of the truth and goodness and beauty. In the beginning was the Word, and all things made through that Word. Light shining in the darkness, which the world comprehended not. The jostling of sacred and secular such as in this popular song about the conlficted soul of Northern Ireland, only transfigured into harmony rather than dissonance:

In the name of United
And the BBC
In the name of Georgie Best
And LSD
In the name of the Father
And his wife the Spirit
You said you did not
They said you did it
In the name of justice
In the name of fun
In the name of the Father
In the name of the Son

Instead, of course, an intelligent musical offering back to God from all the treasures both old and new of the British Catholic patrimony, from Anglo-Saxon Adam Lay Ybounden to mainland Catholic songs popularized in rock and roll form and re-nativized as ecclesiastical music.

All of which, of course, mainstream Roman Catholicism will never do for me unless in some far-away eschatological dream, the See of Canterbury is restored to communion with Rome – meaning that such pleasures are usually guilty, uneasy, something on the order of a stolen kiss.

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Gabriel’s Message (Sabine Baring-Gould)

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

“For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name.”
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say–
“Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!

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O Oriens, O Earendel: The Anglo-Saxon O Antiphon

CIMG0019

Eala earendel, engla beorhtast,
ofer middangeard monnum sended,
ond soðfæsta sunnan leoma,
torht ofer tunglas, þu tida gehwane
of sylfum þe symle inlihtes!
Swa þu, god of gode gearo acenned,
sunu soþan fæder, swegles in wuldre
butan anginne æfre wære,
swa þec nu for þearfum þin agen geweorc
bideð þurh byldo, þæt þu þa beorhtan us
sunnan onsende, ond þe sylf cyme
þæt ðu inleohte þa þe longe ær,
þrosme beþeahte ond in þeostrum her,
sæton sinneahtes; synnum bifealdne
deorc deaþes sceadu dreogan sceoldan.
Nu we hyhtfulle hælo gelyfað
þurh þæt word godes weorodum brungen,
þe on frymðe wæs fæder ælmihtigum
efenece mid god, ond nu eft gewearð
flæsc firena leas, þæt seo fæmne gebær
geomrum to geoce. God wæs mid us
gesewen butan synnum; somod eardedon
mihtig meotudes bearn ond se monnes sunu
geþwære on þeode. We þæs þonc magon
secgan sigedryhtne symle bi gewyrhtum,
þæs þe he hine sylfne us sendan wolde.

O Earendel, brightest of angels,
sent to mankind over middle-earth,
righteous sun’s radiance,
splendid above all stars! Of thine own self
thou ever enlightenest every age.
As thou, God born of God long ago,
Son of the true Father, eternally existed
without beginning in the glory of heaven,
so thine own creation cry with confidence
to thee now for their needs, that thou send
that bright sun to us, and come thyself
to lighten those who long have lived,
surrounded by shadows and darkness, here
in everlasting night; who, shrouded by sins,
have had to endure death’s dark shadow.

Now, hope-filled, we look for healing,
brought to the world’s people through the word of God,
who was in the beginning with the almighty Father
equally eternal with God, and now became
flesh, free of failings, born of the virgin,
a support to the sorrowful. God was with us,
seen without sin; together dwelt
the mighty Measurer’s child and the son of man,
at peace among the people. We may ever address
our thanks to the lord of victory for his deeds,
because he chose to send himself to us.

From A Clerk of Oxford.

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O Oriens

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

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O Speculum Spericum (to the Virgin Mary)

O speculum spericum, speculum perfectionis
Speculum veridicum; o speculum rationis
Speculum obnubilans, excessu transnaturali;
O speculum rutilans virtute semper equali;
O speculum solitum quod inquinat demonstrare
Tamquam carnem spiritum, O Maria nos speculare

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Fhir a’ Bhàta (trad. Scots Gaelic)

Fhir a’ bhàta, na hóro eile
Fhir a’ bhàta, na hóro eile
Fhir a’ bhàta, na hóro eile
Mo shoraidh slàn leat ‘s gach àit’ an téid thu

‘S tric mi sealltainn on chnoc as àirde
Dh’fheuch am faic mi fear a’ bhàta
An tig thu ‘n-diugh na ‘n tig thu màireach
‘S mar tig thu idir gur truagh a ta mi

Tha mo chridhe-sa briste brùite
‘S tric na deòir a ruith o m’ shùilean
An tig thu nochd na ‘m bi mo dhùil riut
Na ‘n dùin mi ‘n doras le osna thùrsaich?

‘S tric mi faighneachd de luchd nam bàta
Am fac’ iad thu na ‘m bheil thu sàbhailt
Ach ‘s ann a tha gach aon dhiubh ‘g ràitinn
Gur gòrach mise ma thug mi gràdh dhut

Gheall mo leannan dhomh gùn dhen t-sìoda
Gheall e siud agus breacan rìomhach
Fàinn’ òir anns am faicinn ìomhaigh
Ach ‘s eagal leam gun dèan e dìochuimhn’

Ged a thuirt iad gun robh thu aotrom
Cha do lughdaich siud mo ghaol ort
Bidh tu m’ aisling anns an oidhche
Is anns a’ mhadainn bidh mi ‘gad fhaighneachd

Thug mi gaol dhut ‘s chan fhaod mi àicheadh
Cha ghaol bliadhna ‘s cha ghaol ràithe
Ach gaol a thòisich nuair bha mi ‘m phàiste
‘S nach searg a chaoidh gus an claoidh am bàs mi

Tha mo chàirdean gu tric ag innseadh
Gum feum mi d’ aogas a leig’ air dìochuimhn’
Ach tha ‘n comhairle dhomh cho dìomhain
‘S bi tilleadh mara ‘s i toirt lìonaidh

Bidh mi tuille tùrsach deurach
Mar eala bhàn ‘s i an dèidh a reubadh
Guileag bàis aic’ air lochan feurach
Is càch gu lèir an dèidh a trèigeadh

    Oh my boatman, na hóro eile
    Oh my boatman, na hóro eile
    Oh my boatman, na hóro eile
    My farewell to you wherever you go

    I often look from the highest hill
    that I might see, oh boatman
    Will you come tonight, or will you come tomorrow
    Oh sorry will I be if you do not come at all

    My heart is broken, bruised
    Often tears are running down from my eyes
    Will you come tonight, or will I wait up for you
    Or close the door with a sad sigh?

    I often ask of the boatmen
    If they have seen you, if you are safe
    But they all tell me
    That I was foolish if I gave you love.

    My darling promised me a gown of silk
    That and a fine plait
    A golden ring in which I’d see a likeness
    But I fear that he shall forget.

    Although they said you were flighty
    That did not lessen my love for you
    You are in my dreams at night
    And in the morning I ask for you.

    I gave you love and cannot deny
    It’s not love that lasts a year or a season
    But a love that began when I was a child
    And that will not wither until death do take me.

    My friends say often
    That I must forget your image
    But their counsel is as unfathomable to me
    As is the returning tide.

    I am all too sad and tearful
    Like a white swan that has been torn
    Sounding her death-call on a small grassy loch
    Having been forsaken by all.

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To the Virgin Mary

Blow, northerne wynd,
Sent thou me my suetyng!
Blow, northerne wynd,
Blou! Blou! Blou!

Ichot a burde in boure bryht
That sully semly is on syht:
Menskful maiden of myht,
   Feir ant fre to fonde.
In al this wurhliche won,
A burde of blod ant of bon
Never yete Y nuste non
   Lussomore in londe!
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

With lokkes lefliche ant longe,
With frount ant face feir to fonde,
With murthes monie mote heo monge —     
   That brid so breme in boure!
With lossom eye grete ant gode,
With browen blysfol under hode —
He that reste him on the rode
   That leflich lyf honoure!
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

Hire lure lumes liht
Ase a launterne anyht;
Hire bleo blykyeth so bryht —
   So feyr heo is, ant fyn!
A suetly suyre heo hath, to holde,
With armes, shuldre, ase mon wolde,
Ant fyngres feyre forte folde.
   God wolde hue were myn!
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

Middel heo hath menskful smal;
Hire loveliche chere as cristal;
Theghes, legges, fet, ant al,
   Ywraht wes of the beste.
A lussum ledy, lasteles
That sweting is, ant ever wes —
A betere burde never nes,
   Yheryed with the heste.
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

Heo is dereworthe in day:
Graciouse, stout, ant gay,
Gentil, jolyf so the jay,
   Wohrliche when heo waketh.
Maiden murgest of mouth —
Bi est, bi west, by north, ant south,
Ther nis fiele ne crouth
   That such murthes maketh!
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

Heo is coral of godnesse;
Heo is rubie of ryhtfulnesse;
Heo is cristal of clannesse;
   Ant baner of bealte.
Heo is lilie of largesse;
Heo is paruenke of prouesse;
Heo is solsecle of suetnesse,
   Ant ledy of lealte.
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

To Love, that leflich is in londe,
Y tolde him, as Ych understonde,
Hou this hende hath hent in honde
   On huerte that myn wes,
Ant hire knyhtes me han so soht —
Sykyng, Sorewyng, ant Thoht —
Tho thre me han in bale broht
   Ageyn the poer of Pees.
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

To Love Y putte pleyntes mo:
Hou Sykyng me hath siwed so;
Ant eke Thoht me thrat to slo
   With maistry, yef he myhte;
Ant Serewe, sore in balful bende,
That he wolde, for this hende,
Me lede to my lyves ende,
   Unlahfulliche in lyhte.
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

Hire Love me lustnede, uch word,
Ant beh him to me over bord,
Ant bed me hente that hord
   Of myne huerte hele:
“Ant bisecheth that swete ant swote,      
Er then thou falle ase fen of fote,
That heo with the wolle, of bote,
   Dereworthliche dele.”
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

For hire love Y carke ant care;
For hire love Y droupne ant dare;
For hire love my blisse is bare,
   Ant al Ich waxe won!
For hire love in slep Y slake;
For hire love al nyht Ich wake;
For hire love mournyng Y make
   More then eny mon!
      Blow, northerne wynd,
      Sent thou me my suetyng!
      Blow northerne wynd,
      Blou! Blou! Blou!

***
Blow, northern wind,
Send me my sweetheart!
Blow, northern wind,
Blow! Blow! Blow!

I know a lady in a bright bower
Who’s wondrously perfect to behold:
Graceful maiden of power,
   Fair and excellent to discover.
In all this splendid place,
No woman of blood and bone
Have I ever yet known
   More lovely in the land!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

With locks beautiful and long,
With forehead and face fair to see,
With many people she may be festive —
   That lady so sparkling in bower!
With lovely eyes large and good,
With eyebrows blissful under hood —
May he who rests himself on the cross
   Honor that lovable life!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

Her cheek gleams with light
Like a lantern by night;
Her face shines so bright —
   So fair she is, and refined!
A pretty neck she has, for embracing,
With arms, shoulder, as one would like,
And fingers fair to clasp.
   Would to God she were mine!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

She has a waist delicately small;
Her lovely face like crystal;
Thighs, legs, feet, and all,
   Shaped in the best way.
A lovely lady, faultless
That sweetheart is and always was —
A better woman there’s never been,
   Praised among the highest.
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

She is precious by day:
Gracious, dignified, and amiable,
Noble, lively as the bluejay,
   Beautiful when she awakens.
Maiden merriest of mouth —
By east, by west, by north, and south,
There’s neither fiddle nor viol
   That creates such joys!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

She is coral of goodness;
She is ruby of uprightness;
She is crystal of chastity;
   And banner of beauty.
She is lily of generosity;
She is periwinkle of excellence;
She is marigold of sweetness,
   And lady of loyalty.
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

To Love, who’s beloved everywhere,
I told him, as I understand,
How this courteous one has captured in hand
   A heart that was mine,
And her knights have so sought after me —
Sighing, Sorrowing, and Thought —
Those three have brought me to misery
   Against the authority of Peace.
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

To Love I made further complaints:
How Sighing has so pursued me;
And also Thought threatened to slay me
   With force, if he could;
And Sorrow, injured by grievous bondage,
Would, on account of this courteous one,
Lead me to my life’s end,
   Unlawfully and plainly.
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

Her Love listened to me, every word,
And bent himself toward me over the table,
And ordered me to embrace that treasure
   For my heart’s cure:
“And beseech that sweet and gentle one,
Before you fall like mud off a foot,
That she will with you, for remedy,
   Affectionately negotiate.”
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

For her love I fret and sorrow;
For her love I droop and falter;
For her love my bliss is barren,
   And I grow pale!
For her love in sleep I slacken;
For her love all night I awaken;
For her love I make mourning
   More than any man!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Send me my sweetheart!
      Blow, northern wind,
      Blow! Blow! Blow!

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