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The Chalice
Friday, June 10 2022


Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;

you are worthy of praise; glory to you.

Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;

we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;

on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.

Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;

we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths;

in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.

Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;

we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Greetings from vacation! As you get to know me, you'll learn I like to know two things about liturgy: rules, and the exceptions to the rules. For example, there are rubrics (rules) for the celebration of Holy Communion on Sundays. For the Liturgy of the Word (the first half of the service) there are requirements of the lessons proclaimed: at least one reading from scripture, a psalm, and the gospel must be proclaimed. So… when the rubrics inform the clergy that for Trinity Sunday: instead of the psalm of the day, Canticle 13 may be used, this usually catches the clergy-person’s attention as this is not the norm.

The Daily Office has twenty-one canticles (hymns or chants taken from a biblical text). They are usually paired with different readings and used at Morning and Evening Prayer. Some of the more popular canticles are well known: the Gloria is the hymn of praise which we sing every Sunday right at the beginning of the service (except during Advent and Lent). Another hymn of praise many know is the Magnificat – or the Song of Mary. The choir chanted the Magnificat during Evensong just a few weeks ago. Sunday is one of the rare days that a canticle can replace the psalm of the day, simply because the lectionary declares this text worthy: The Song of the Three Young Men – Canticle 13 which is the text at the beginning of this article.

The background of this canticle comes from an Old Testament book of the prophet Daniel. In chapters one and two, King Nebuchadnezzar rejects the God of the Judeans, and in the third chapter, he sentences three men to death for their unwillingness to renounce their belief in God. The angel of God came down to be with the three men as they were put into a furnace – but were unharmed by the harsh flames due to the protection from the angel. As any of us would do in that situation, the three men started giving praise to God.

The bible has very Trinitarian language around this scriptural incident: “then the three with one voice praised and glorified and blessed God in the furnace.” I believe the three men crying out in one voice is symbolic of the relationship of the Trinity. There are plenty of examples of how to explain the complicated Trinity: three persons, one God. One of the classic explanations comes from St. Augustine; he explained the Trinity as “Lover, Beloved, and Love itself.” I do appreciate the analogy, but as a visual person I need something tangible to work with. As I’ve been working with the choir recently, I worked on a three-part arrangement of this canticle. Alex helped to break us up into three parts: sopranos sang the melody, altos sang a lower counter melody, and the tenors and basses sang the lowest portion of the harmony. Three different notes, working together in harmony, to accomplish the goal of a single chord.

In an article from 2011 by the British Broadcasting Company regarding the celebration of Trinity Sunday, the author proclaimed that “the Trinity expresses the way Christians should relate to God; worship God the Father, follow the example set by God the Son, and how God the Holy Spirit lives in you.” As we approach this weekend, let us think about what the Trinity means to us, let us meditate on how we work in harmony with others, and how we are called to give praise to God like the Three Young Men. Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Your sibling in Christ,

Fr. James 

Posted by: The Rev. James E. Reiss AT 01:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
St. John's Episcopal Church
12 Prospect St. | Huntington, NY 11743 | PH: (631) 427-1752
Sunday Services at 8 AM and 10 AM
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