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HYMN FOR EASTER II O Sons and Daughters of the King

Latin: O fillii et filliae

 

Text: Jean Tessarand (d. 1494) Tune: French 15th century


Doubting Thomas. Duccio

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O sons and daughters, let us sing!

The King of heaven, the glorious King,

Over death today rose triumphing.

Alleluia! Alleluia!


That Easter morn, at break of day,

The faithful women went their way

To seek the tomb where Jesus lay.

Alleluia! Alleluia!


An angel clad in white they see,

Who sat, and spake unto the three,

“Your Lord doth go to Galilee.”

Alleluia! Alleluia!


That night th’apostles met in fear;

Amidst them came their Lord most dear,

And said, “My peace be on all here.”

Alleluia! Alleluia!


When Thomas first the tidings heard,

How they had seen the risen Lord,

He doubted the disciples’ word.

Alleluia! Alleluia!“


My piercèd side, O Thomas, see;

My hands, My feet, I show to thee;

Not faithless but believing be.”

Alleluia! Alleluia!


No longer Thomas then denied;

He saw the feet, the hands, the side;

“Thou art my Lord and God,” he cried.

Alleluia! Alleluia!


How blessed are they who have not seen,

And yet whose faith has constant been;

For they eternal life shall win.

Alleluia! Alleluia!


On this most holy day of days

Our hearts and voices, Lord, we raise

To Thee, in jubilee and praise.

Alleluia! Alleluia! 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

The Incredulity of Thomas Caravaggio

REFLECTION

(A reworking of a previous blog.) This hymn is a pretty close paraphrase of 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. Actually, it should be New Believers' Sunday.

 

Some people say this is an age of doubt. I would call it an age of sheer unbelief, hardly doubt. 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. Doubters are praised, while true believers are dismissed as unthinking.


Some years ago, I attended a confirmation service in which the pastor read faith statements by the confirmands. She read only those that doubted the faith they had just been confirmed in, and ignored one from a firm believer who was the reason I was there. Why would a pastor praise unbelief instead of the belief she was sworn to defend? I would venture that she came 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.”

 

Incredulity of Thomas Hendrick ter Brugghen, c. 1622

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 the Great Believer. He.makes 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.

 

We should relish this blessing to us from Jesus as we 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 fire

 

 

Richard Proulx


 

 

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