Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday. During this Advent Sunday’s readings is the scripture from Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice!” In it we remember the message of the Angel of the Lord and the Heavenly Host as they announcement to coming of the Messiah, “Fear not because I bring you good news of great joy!”

I recently came across a 16th Century Christmas carol entitled “Gaudete” which is a rejoicing song about the coming of the Messiah.

Here is the text with a loose translation.

Gaudete, Gaudete!
Christus et natus
Ex maria virgine,
Rejoice, Rejoice!
Christ is born
Of the virgin Mary,
Tempus ad est gratiae,
Hoc quod optabamus;
Carmina laetitiae,
Devote redamus.
Now is the time of grace
That we have longed.
Let us sing songs of joy!
Let us render devotion!
Deus homo factus est,
Natura mirante;
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.
God was made man;
Creation marvels.
The world was renewed
By Christ who is King.
Ezechiellis porta
Clausa pertransitur;
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.
The closed gate of Ezekiel
Has been passed through;
From where the light arises
Salvation is found.
Ergo nostra cantio,
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.
Therefore let the assembly,
Sing in the brightness of dawning;
Let it praise the Lord:
Greetings to our King.

I love the language and what I think is a reference to Ezekiel 46. The imagery captures the true worship led by the King in the Restored Kingdom in which the Eastern gate is not only opened to the direction of the dawn but also to direction of those who are in captivity in Babylon. The passage reads:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. The prince shall enter by the vestibule of the gate from outside, and shall take his stand by the post of the gate. The priests shall offer his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening.”

I also love the imagery of light — a light that is not mere inner illumination or enlightenment but is of a cosmic dawning that banishes darkness.

At any rate, I first came across Steeleye Span’s version of the carol which climb the music charts in England in the 60’s. Here’s their recent anniversary edition.

And a much more polished version by another choir here:

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