Hark, A Thrilling Voice is Sounding

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Thursday Reflection

December 2, 2021

Hark a Thrilling Voice is Sounding

One of the joys of being Episcopalian is the hymnody.   A second is a full range of hymns for the Advent season.  We do not need to sing Christmas carols yet!! (And please don’t).  

Thanksgiving morning I put on a CD of Advent music from St. Paul’s K Street in Washington, DC, which I have owned for many years.  As I began preparing side dishes for the day, my body filled with energy and my heart with love as the choir sang out: “Hark a Thrilling Voice is Sounding.”  The origins of this hymn go back at least until the 5th century when monks chanted: Vox Clara ecce intonat.  It was the hymn for Lauds (the daily Morning Prayer) on the first Sunday of Advent and was to be sung each morning until Christmas.   

“Hark, a Thrilling Voice is Sounding” beautifully expresses both our hope in the Incarnation, the anticipated birth of Jesus, and our hope in the Second Coming.  We long for forgiveness, mercy and love.  We find “Christ, our sun, all sloth dispelling, shines upon the morning skies,” as I found on Thanksgiving morning. 

We sang this hymn the first Sunday of Advent.  I invite each of us to listen to and join in this hymn each day until Christmas. 

And chanted in Latin

1 Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding.
“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the works of darkness,
O ye children of the day.”

2 Wakened by the solemn warning,
from earth’s bondage let us rise;
Christ, our sun, all sloth dispelling,
shines upon the morning skies.

3 Lo! the Lamb, so long expected,
comes with pardon down from heaven;
let us haste, with tears of sorrow,
one and all to be forgiven;

4 so when next he comes with glory,
and the world is wrapped in fear,
may he with his mercy shield us,
and with words of love draw near.

5 Honor, glory, might, and blessing
to the Father and the Son,
with the everlasting Spirit,
while unending ages run.