For All The Saints…

I’ll be traveling on November 1st, All Saints Day. This was written on Halloween (or, more properly, All Hallows Eve.)

All Saints Day. It’s actually an important holiday in the life of the Church. It’s an occasion for us to remember those who have died… To honor those closest to us like family, friends, neighbors, or those whose reputation and witness served the Church and Her ministry in the world.

In actuality, the church of my childhood didn’t make a big deal about All Saints Day. But the longer I work as a chaplain, the longer I feel that it is important that we pause and remember those we love and miss. Our culture doesn’t “do” grief very well. All Saints Day is an opportunity to make space for this very important work.

I sat and thought about the people who have died and that shaped me into who I am today…

My dad, and my grandparents… You gave me life and a heritage of loving God and serving others. You shaped my sense of humor and my love of telling stories. You filled my “traditions” and recipe box with delightful things!

My great-grands, aunts, uncles and other relatives… Indirectly, I learned from you that “family” has a deeper meaning than annual reunions.

My brother… I was only 13, but I remember the day we got the phone call you had been killed in an accident.

My piano teachers: Miss Byers, Miss Hartsook, Mr. Strouse, Mr. Haddad, Miss Zaremba… Most of you believed in me and helped me shine. One of you almost took me down with your sarcasm and misdirection. Almost. But not quite.

My brother-in-law: I was around 11 or 12 when you came to help with a science project of “Jupiter and its moons”. Visiting with my sister this week, I am reminded of the truth that you will always be a part of our family.

My patients and their families… Some of you have inspired blog posts and tears. You dealt with cancer, AIDS, MS, ALS, CVAs, CHF and a dictionary full of acronymns. You are more than a bed number to me. I celebrate your perseverance and your release from pain.

The Latin Mass offers this prayer:

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam,
ad te omnis care veniet.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

20130416-101057.jpg

Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them.
You are praised, God, in Zion,
and homage will be paid to You in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer,
to You all flesh will come.
Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them.

 

Life has a way of reminding us of death. And so today, I celebrate and thank God For All The Saints…

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

I recall this hymn having a bodacious number of verses. We certainly didn’t sing all of these! But I decided to include all eleven (!) verses as the author, William How, wrote them. A setting of this hymn is here.

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