O Rex Gentium
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
(cf Isaiah 28.16; Ephesians 2.14)
Bob Chilcott. Advent Antiphons, no. 2. Queens' College Choir, Cambridge, cond. Silas Wollston.
from Four Nativity Poems,
by Anthony Wilson
They say there are signs.
Not with her.
I'm no professor
but neither am I stupid.
I asked her who she'd been seeing.
She sat there murmuring 'Angel'.
She went north a few days
—change'll do you good.
The solicitors said to forget it.
'Without proof …' they smiled.
If anything she started to brighten:
'They'll be cousins, same age!'
(I can't be sure,
but I think I saw him, too.)
We left it too late, of course.
The traffic was solid,
some pop idol on the hire car radio
We stopped at a Little Chef
on a B-road somewhere in the hills.
Crystal midnight it was,
good as daylight.
Then she grew wild-eyed.
Her bawling, a blunt saw,
cut through me.
It wasn't like in the songs.
Pietro Annigoni, St. Joseph and the Christ Child in the Carpentry Workshop, 1963. Fresco, San Lorenzo, Florence.
As we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ,
kindle your light in our hearts
to keep us watchful and hopeful,
to open our lives to Christ's coming in many ways through all our days
—even in the least expected ways,
to witness to Christ's ministry and love to our neighbours,
to work together for peace and reconciliation with our neighbours,
to pray for our concerns in this congregation and in our lives.
In the name of Christ.
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2. before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
3. Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
4. O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5. You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6. You make us the scorn of our neighbours; our enemies laugh among themselves.
7. Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved. . . .
17. But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.
18. Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.
19. Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish — hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Claude Balbastre (1724–99). Joseph est Bien Marié [Joseph has Married Well]. Grand Organ of Saint-Roch Church, Paris, played by Arnaud Bahuaud.