1062 Autumnwood Dr, Winnipeg, MB R2J 1C7  (204) 256-8792

Notes on the Notes – February 23, 2020

Transfiguration Sunday

Exodus 24:12-18    Matthew 17:1-9

This week is the final Sunday of the season of Epiphany –  Transfiguration Sunday.  On this Sunday, all three of the synoptic gospels tell a story of Peter, James, and John accompanying Jesus to the top of a holy mountain. There, before their eyes, Jesus is transfigured or transformed into a dazzling brightness. Transfiguration Sunday is the last Sunday before the season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

This week’s music:

“Jesus Bids Us Shine” (VU #585)

Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light,
Like a little candle burning in the night.
In this world is darkness, so let us shine,shine logo -800
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

Jesus bids us shine first of all for him;
Well he sees and knows it if our light grows dim:
Jesus walks beside us to help us shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around,
Many kinds of darkness in the world are found:
Sin, and want and sorrow; so we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.”

This hymn, by American novelist Susan Warner, was first published in 1868 in a children’s magazine titled The Little Corporal.  An interesting side note is that the author’s younger sister, Anna Barlett wrote the hymn “Jesus Loves Me.”   The tune was written by Edwin O. Excell, an American composer of gospel hymns.

“O Splendour of God’s Glory Bright” (VU #413)

“O splendour of God’s glory bright, from light eternal bringing light;
O light of life, light’s living spring, true day, all days illumining;

Come, Holy Sun of heavenly love, pour down your radiance from above,
And to our inward hearts convey the Holy Spirit’s cloudless ray.

O joyful be the passing day with thoughts as clear as morning’s ray,
With faith like noon-tide shining bright, our souls unshadowed by the night.

O Christ, with each returning morn your image to our hearts is born;
O may we ever see anew our Saviour and our God in you!”

The text of this hymn comes from “Splendor Paternae Gloriae,” a hymn by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (ca 174), who encouraged the development of hymn singing in the Western Church, having heard hymns sung in Eastern Orthodox churches during his travels in Greece. The translation is based on the work of John Chandler in Hymns of the Primitive Church (1837).   The words reference both God and Jesus as being sources of divine light.  Through the hymn, we are asking to be bathed in the divine light as we live our every day life.   The tune, PUER NOBIS NASCITUR, is from a 15th-century Tier manuscript.  It may be familiar as the tune for the hymn “A Little Child the Saviour Came” (VU #445).

Hear the tune on the organ at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu-1qlh7YFU


“How Good, Lord, to be Here” (VU #103)

“How good, Lord, to be here! Your glory fills the night;
Your face and garments, like the sun, shine with unborrowed light.

How good, Lord to be here, your beauty to behold,
Where Moses and Elijah stand, your messengers of old.

Fulfiller of the past and hope of things to be,
We hail your body glorified, and our redemption see!

Before we taste of death, we see your kingdom come:
We long to hold the vision bright and make this hill our home!

How good, Lord, to be here! Yet we may not remain;
But, since you bid us leave the mount, come with us to the plain.”

This hymn was written by Joseph Armitage Robinson (1888) for the feast of the Transfiguration, which, in the United Church, is celebrated on the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent.  It is written as if we, too, are on the mountaintop with the disciples.   It encourages us to both experience the wonder of the Transfiguration of Jesus and to follow Jesus back down the mountain toward the cross.  The tune, CARLISLE, is by Charles Lockhard (1792).

Hear the hymn played on organ at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI7hTTDKsss

“Transfigure Us, O Lord”

“Transfigure us, O Lord,
Transfigure us, O Lord,
Break the chains that bind us;
Speak your healing word,
And where you lead we’ll follow.
Transfigure us, O Lord.

Down from heights of glory into the depths below,
The love of God self-emptied, the love of God to show.
You light the path before us, the way that we must go.

Light for those in darkness, the hungry have their fill,
Glad tidings for the humble, the healing of all ills;
In these we glimpse your glory, God’s promises fulfilled.

Pardon for the sinner, a shepherd for the sheep,
A drink of living water for all who thirst and seek,
And feasting at your table, the lowly and the least.

To the holy city, Jerusalem, you go;
Your face set toward the ending, the cross to be your throne.
Shall we journey with you and share your Lenten road?

Transfigure us, O Lord…”

This week’s anthem is based on the transfiguration story as told in Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-10 and Luke 9:28b-36. It was written by Bob Hurd in 2002.

“Open My Eyes” (VU #371)

“Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hand the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wave-notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit Divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart and let me prepare love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!”

Clara H. Scott (1841-1897) provides us with a hymn of consecration that has been sung for over 100 years. The text of “Open My Eyes” was written in 1895 shortly before Scott’s death. Each stanza reveals an increasing receptiveness to the “Spirit divine.” Open eyes lead to “glimpses of truth.” Open ears lead to “voices of truth.” An open mouth leads to sharing the “warm truth everywhere.” An open heart leads to sharing “love to thy children.”

The image of open eyes is common in the Bible. In some cases, this is a sign of Christ’s healing power, as when Jesus gave sight to the blind man. Closed eyes, on the other hand, could be a metaphor for avoiding the truth.  The image of open ears is also significant in the biblical witness. Matthew often reprises the theme “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Closed ears become a metaphor for a lack of understanding. While the eyes and the ears are receptive organs, the mouth has the capacity to project. The mouth may project “cursing and deceit and fraud” (Psalm 10:7), or it may be an organ that projects praise, as Psalm 51:15 exhorts us: “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”

Sing along with the choir at First United Methodist Church in Valdosta, Georgia at: https://youtu.be/71jExPuxRBY


To ponder: 

How do you think people experience mountain-top moments in the world today?

Categories: Notes on the Notes