31 March 2008

Most highly favored lady...

The students returned to classes today, after the Easter break. Last week had seemed very quiet at the parish. It's amazing what the absence of nearly five hundred students can do to a place.

It was especially beautiful to have everyone back for the Solemnity of the Annunciation. As I've frequently mentioned, all our students (from Pre-Kinder through High School) attend Mass daily. Each day's school Mass is a Sung Mass, and we always use incense on Feasts and Solemnities. Today was no exception, and one of our high school "regulars" was serving as thurifer -- a young man who has perfected the "360-degree swing" with the thurible. He'd managed to lay out a pretty good cloud covering in the sanctuary, and the children were making their responses more strongly than is usual for a Monday morning. There's something about celebrating the Annunciation that seems special to the students each year. Maybe it's partly because I always remind them that "it's only nine months until Christmas..."

One of the lovelier moments was when the organ started that wonderful Basque carol which is so beautifully wedded to the Baring-Gould translation, and every voice from the youngest onward joined in singing,

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!

Absolutely beautiful.