To His Garden

To His Garden

This sonnet is based on Jeremiah 39:1-10 which recounts the fall of Jerusalem. The account itself strikingly echoes the fall in Genesis. In both cases because of sin and rebellion, God’s people are cast from a garden. Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and Zedekiah and the people from the garden of the holy city, Jerusalem. A future king, however, would enter a garden, on behalf of his people, not to flee but to face judgment.

If it is helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

The walled carapace of self-sufficiency
Is breached by the imperial powers.
Time. Time is up for the garden city
Her midnight has come, her judgment hour.
Judges are seated where their word awaits
To condemn all, from elderly to child,
But the people’s king flees through his garden gate
In fear runs away, cast out to the wild.

One day again, judgment to a king comes
Who to a garden goes running to pray
Find help to face alone the gallows’ drums,
That the cup of wrath be taken away.
This king drinks death for us, is raised above,
That we in his garden, may drink his love.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: “Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar as the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah, XXI, 4 7)” c.1956; France. 
© Marc Chagall Fair Use

O Rex Gentium

O Rex Gentium

The Antiphon for December 22 is O Rex Gentium or O King of Nations. The antiphon’s text reads,

O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.

It draws its text from several passages in the Bible including the following,

Hag. 2:7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Is. 28:16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

King of Nations, king of our desiring
Come to your creation, square it and right
Mending the marred, rebuild, never tiring
Of pulling out darkness, ripping out night.
Builder and joiner, dovetail and make one
As keystone bridge the pillared-arched ceiling
Tear down hatred’s walls, make righteousness run
And cross-armed gather make whole, bring healing.
In concretion, cohesion, hold us, King
Sustain us by your presence and power
Make us your’s, seal in promise as as ring
Wed us in love beneath banner and bower.
The King of desiring climbs in the clay
Lays as cornerstone midst manger and hay.

© Randall Edwards 2017
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

O Oriens

O Oriens

December 21st marks the winter solstice and the accompanying antiphon is appropriately, O Oriens or O Dayspring. The antiphon reads,

O Dayspring splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The prayer finds its inspiration in several Bible passages:

Isaiah 9:2 The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
Malachi 4:2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
Luke 1:76-79 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Here’s a sonnet for the antiphon.

Turned west, this sunset of humanity
Denies the dusk of death’s looming shadow.
Reviles the real as some profanity
Which pilfers profit and ruins workflow.

O Sun of Righteousness, make right and shine
On prisoners who dwell in dark dungeons,
On the worried who’s weeds choke and entwine,
And the pharisee who can’t see his sin.

O Dayspring, shine, flood our grey town in light
Drive back the darkness in which lurks our fears.
Dawn! Flood! Arise! Illuminate our night!
Speak tender mercies, wipe away our tears.

When with healing wings the Sun rise on all,
We bound as joyful calves from winter’s stall.

© Randy Edwards, 2016.
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
photo: Randy Edwards, sunrise Cherry Grove, SC

O Clavis II

O Clavis II

The Great O Antiphon for December 20 is O Clavis. The text of which reads,

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The scriptural allusions in the prayer can be found in the following passages:

Isaiah. 22:22:” I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Revelation 3:7   “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.”

O Key of David, set my bound will free;
Unlock the door, that I may walk your way—
Cheerful, resolved, with bright alacrity
To step from the shadows into the day.

Rise! Ride your chariot, your courses run,
Rain down truth, pierce with your arrows of light;
Shine bright O Clavis, as the noonday sun!
Deliver me from death, dis-spell the night.

For resentment has rusted my hard heart–
The spring is broken, will not free the latch;
Use your key to loose, use your locksmith’s art
To turn the bolt, spring the pins, free the catch.

I behold a door hung, see his pierced side,
And the Key turns my heart, enters, abides.

© Randy Edwards 2018
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
artwork: from The Queen Mary Apocalypse, England (London or East Anglia), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Royal 19 B. xv, f. 38v

What Hope?

What Hope?

This sonnet is based on Jeremiah 32:36-44. The passage is found in a section of Jeremiah called the Book of Consolation. The promises in contrast with the judgment pronounced in the rest of the book seem almost impossible to comprehend. When judgment comes, we make it the final word. We believe that whatever good could come is now lost. The promises in Jeremiah’s Book of Consolation show us that the hope of peace, though impossible for us, is not impossible for God. The blessings which God has promised and planned for his people will not be in spite of their exile, but blessing will be accomplished through their exile.

What hope do you have if you’ve no hope in
Yourself, if you cannot do what is hard,
And though promising, you won’t keep your word,
Nor avoid the near occasions of sin?

What peace can you know if you are driven
Into exile, by sword, disease, famine?
How much worse then, after chasing mammon,
Find what you sought, is to what you’ve been giv’n?

What promise for the future could you dare
To dream if you would not turn from your sin?
If in that lust sacrifice your children
So consumed with desire you did not care?

Is promised hope and peace forever lost
If He who could save, you’ve betrayed and crossed?

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: James Tissot [Public domain].

O Radix

O Radix

The O Antiphon for December 19 is O Radix or O Root. The antiphon reads, “O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.”

The antiphon draws from passages from Isaiah 11 and elsewhere.
Isaiah 11:1 reads, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” and Iaiah 11:10 reads, “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.  11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. 12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.”

O Root of Jesse, the green, tender shoot
From whom the kingdom branches, stretches, springs
Into the earth become, reach down, take root
To free the captives, lead out in blessings.

O Root of Jesse, who walked Galilee
Preaching, working wonders among your own
Stopping to heal whomever cried, “Mercy!”
To you, David’s son, no mercy was shown.

O Root of Jesse, born for us to die,
Stretched out on a tree, its wrapped thorns your crown,
Raised to life, your tomb opened to the sky–
As the stump springs green though the tree cut down.

O Root of Jesse, who comes to make free,
Take root in my heart, grow your grace in me

© Randy Edwards 2018

This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

O Adonai

O Adonai

The Great O Antiphon for December 18 is O Adonai which reads, “O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.”

From Sinai’s bush which blazed in holy fire
You answered, “I AM!” gave Moses your name,
And promised your arm would reach, never tire
’Til you saved your son from slav’ry and shame.
And even while gath’ring the bread sent each day
Sheltered beneath Sinai’s thundering peak,
The people yet complain, reject, and stray
From HIM WHO IS, deliv’er of the weak.

O Lord, redeem! My arms cannot bear
The doing demands of performance lords,
Nor can avoid the tangle of sin’s snare
I’m trapped by desire, cupidity’s cords.

Baring his arm I AM reached to the lost
By taking the wood of manger and cross.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: pyrography, Joy, by Asher McClain. © Asher McClain 2018