[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from a two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings. The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University). Click here for the link to the lectionary. When there are lacunae in the Durham edition, I draw from R. M. Healey’s edition. Click here for the link to his formatting of the lectionary.]
Patristic Lectionary – 17 April 2021 – Feria in Eastertide
[The image is of choristers at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. “Sing to the Lord a new song.”]
The Vision of the Lamb
And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals? And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
St. Augustine of Hippo
Sermon 34.1-3, 5-6
Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.
We are told to sing to the Lord a new song. A new man knows a new song. A song is a thing of joy and, if we think carefully about it, a thing of love. So the man who has learned to love a new life has learned to sing a new song. Therefore we need to be told the nature of this new life, for the sake of the new song. For a new man, a new song and the New Testament all belong to the same kingdom. So the new man will sing a new song and belong to the New Testament.
Everyone loves; the question is, what does he love? Consequently we are not told not to love, but to choose what to love. But how can we choose, unless we are first chosen? We cannot love unless we are first loved. Listen to the words of John the Apostle: We love, because he first loved us. If you search for the reason why a man loves God you will find no other reason at all, save that God first loved him. He gave us himself as the object of our love, and he gave us the source of our love. If you wish to know what he gave as the source of our love, you can find a clearer explanation in the words of the Apostle Paul: The love of God is poured out in our hearts. Where does it come from? From ourselves? No. Where then? Through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Since, then, we have such an assurance, let us love God by the gift of God. As Saint John himself expresses it more clearly: God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. It is not enough to say: ‘Love comes from God.’ Which of us would dare to say what Saint John said: God is love? He knew what he was saying, for he experienced this love himself.
God offers himself to us; there is no need to offer us more. He calls out to us: ‘Love me and you will possess me, because you cannot love me unless you possess me.’
My brothers, my sons, children of the Catholic Church, holy seeds of heaven, you who have been born again in Christ, born from above, listen to me, or rather, through me: Sing to the Lord a new song. ‘But I do sing’, you may reply. You sing, of course you sing, I can hear you; but make sure that your life sings the same tune as your mouth.
Sing with your voices, sing with your hearts, sing with your lips, sing with your lives. Sing to the Lord a new song. Do you ask what you should sing about the one whom you love? Of course you want to sing about the one you love. Do you ask what you should sing in praise of him? Listen: Sing to the Lord a new song. Are you looking for praises to sing? His praise is in the assembly of the saints. The singer himself is the praise contained in the song. Do you want to speak the praise of God? Be yourselves what you speak. If you live good lives, you are his praise.