Updated: May 2
Latin: O fillii et filliae
Text: Jean Tessarand (d. 1494) Tune: French 15th century
R/Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! 1. O sons and daughters of the King, whom heavenly hosts in glory sing, today the grave has lost its sting. Alleluia!
2. That Easter morn at break of day, the faithful women went their way to seek the tomb where Jesus lay. Alleluia!
3. An angel clad in white they see, who sat and spoke unto the three, "Your Lord has gone to Galilee." Alleluia!
4. When Thomas first the tidings heard that some had seen the risen Lord, he doubted the disciples' word. Lord, have mercy!
5. At night the apostles met in fear; among them came their Master dear and said, "My peace be with you here." Alleluia!
6. "My pierced side, O Thomas, see, and look upon my hands, my feet; not faithless but believing be." Alleluia!
7. No longer Thomas then denied; he saw the feet, the hands, the side. "You are my Lord and God!" he cried. Alleluia!
8 How blest are they who have not seen and yet whose faith has constant been, for they eternal life shall win. Alleluia!
Tr. John Mason Neale (1818-1866)
This hymn, maybe not so well known as many others I have chosen, is a pretty close paraphrase of John 20:24-29, the text for the second Sunday of Easter. It tells the story of Thomas the disciple who missed the first appearance of the risen Jesus the week before. His announcement that he will not believe Jesus has risen until he has seen the wounds and put his hand in the side of Jesus is often praised to show doubting is all right for Christians. It makes this Sunday something of the doubter’s Sunday.
Some people say this is an age of doubt. I would call it sheer unbelief, hardly doubting. Doubt implies some level of faith. Thomas’ doubt is something to recognize as part of the Christian life, but too often we miss what Jesus does and says to heal Thomas’ doubt. It sometimes feels like people think doubters are smarter than believers. Doubts are praised, while true believers are dismissed as unthinking. That comes from a time when doubting was chic and belief conventional. Today unbelief is conventional; belief goes against the grain.
When Jesus appears in the locked room, he well knows what Thomas has said and speaks directly to him. “Put your finger here, and see my hands and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
There is no record that Thomas does touch Jesus’ wounds. On seeing and hearing Jesus, he worships him. “My Lord and my God!” This is the first time in the four gospels that anyone has addressed Jesus as God, so rather than look on Thomas as the great doubter, we should, as the scholar Frederik Dale Bruner says, regard Thomas as making the fullest confession of faith any one of the disciples makes in the Gospels.
Most comforting to us, however, after this dramatic confession, is when Jesus speaks across the ages to us with a final beatitude: “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe!” He is blessing us today, isolated in our homes.
In your confinement—a word that describes women who are giving birth—you should relish this blessing from Jesus as you read the text and sing the hymn. Let it give birth to joy in you. To be blessed is to be made holy, to be filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia! HYMN INFO
Jean Tissarand (d. 1494) was a Franciscan monk about whom we know little except that he died in Paris. It is thought he founded an order for repentant women and wrote a service to remember the martyrdom of fellow monks that were killed in Morocco. The translator, John Mason Neale, became one of the leaders in bringing ancient Greek and Latin hymn texts into the life of the English church. Ill health prevented him from serving out his call as a priest in the Anglican Church, but he worked tirelessly as a theologian and translator of early Christian texts. Without his work we would not have had as many hymns for Advent, or less celebrated festivals of the church. Lutherans took many of his hymns into their hymnals at the end of the 19th century and they have become necessary to the hymnody of the church year, as this one has.
LINKS From Notre Dame before the tragic fire https://youtu.be/vRYc8OVh-jc
Richard Proulx https://youtu.be/N8yK9Z6Zafw