Monday 14th December – Of the Father’s Heart Begotten
This ancient hymn was adopted by the Spanish Church in the 9th Century to be used on 1st January when Jesus’ circumcision was marked. The tune comes from the 16th Century and we contrast Matthew’s genealogy with the idea that Jesus was lineage is heavenly.
St Mathew 1: 1-17
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos[f] the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.
Of The Father’s Love Begotten Aurelius Clemens Prudentius Tr J M Neale
Of the Father’s love begotten ere the worlds began to be, he is Alpha and Omega, he the Source, the Ending he, of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!
2 O that birth forever blessed, when the Virgin, full of grace, by the Holy Ghost conceiving, bore the Savior of our race; and the babe, the world’s Redeemer, first revealed his sacred face, evermore and evermore!
3 This is he whom heav’n-taught singers sang of old with one accord, whom the Scriptures of the prophets promised in their faithful word; now he shines, the long expected; let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!
4 O ye heights of heav’n, adore him; angel hosts, his praises sing: all dominions, bow before him and extol our God and King; let no tongue on earth be silent, ev’ry voice in concert ring, evermore and evermore!
5 Christ, to thee, with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to thee, hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unwearied praises be, honor, glory, and dominion and eternal victory, evermore and evermore!
Whenever I find myself at the Communion Table, leading God’s people in the sacrament of Holy Communion, I am always in awe. There is a mystery about what we do, grounded in the history of what happened at that first Communion. The look into history, shared by those with us, helps us to look towards the future. Past, present, and yet to come are each combined in the story of bread broken and wine outpoured.
For some years I resented the possibility that I might become known in any way as a Church historian. History is made up of not only the large narrative of what happened and when, but the detailed minutiae that fill the story. For Church history, this is a 2000 year story of schism and conflict, of dynasties, doctrines and dissolution. History points to the Church of the past, and would mean nothing for the Church of the future.
Yet as I’ve found myself reading and writing Church history I’ve become more closely connected to the heritage of our faith, the story of our present, and the challenge and hope for the future. I’ve found history makes us who we are and that really does inform where we may seek to travel.
When we gather at Communion we remember the past: the action of God in creation; the voice of those who cried out prophetic word; and the story that led to the incarnation, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. We look back. And yet we also meet around a table, in Communion, and in hope for the future.
Of the Father’s love begotten speaks of past, present and to come – the history of Christ, the present of Christ, and the future of Christ. It is a Eucharistic prayer which can guide us into knowledge of God and into closer communion with each other. When it’s sung, it tells the story, invites us in, and sends us out: ‘evermore and evermore’.
Of love begotten, not made, your incarnate Word lived our lives, shared our world, broke bread, turned tables, held hands. Help us to see your past is our story, our present is your table, our future years are your evermore, and evermore shall we know ourselves to be your people. Amen.
The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett, Chaplaincy Coordinator, Newcastle University