Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Poignant Love: Biblical Commentary on Hosea 6:4-11a with Poem by William Wetmore Story, Io Victis

Daily Readings
Job 15 Exodus 2:23-3:12 Hosea 6:4-11a Song of Solomon 7

Daily Text: Hosea 6:4-11a

Poignant Love
This sermon in Hosea 6:4-11a is very sensitive and loving. Regret is a dominant theme in this poignantly loving piece. Hosea’s language aches for the LORD whose ‘hesed,’ steadfast love, continues for his chosen. In contrast Israel and Judah’s love for God is transient—it comes and goes. To correct this and to reform his chosen people the LORD sends the prophet’s words to cut away sin and shed light on the people’s lack. So often the people have gone through the motions of serving God without a parallel integrity of life.

Io Victis
William Wetmore Story
1819-1895

I sing the hymn of the conquered, who fell in the Battle of Life,--
The hymn of the wounded, the beaten, who died overwhelmed in the strife;
Not the jubilant song of the victors, for whom the resounding acclaim
Of nations was lifted in chorus, whose brows wear the chaplet of fame,
But the hymn of the low and the humble, the weary, the broken in heart,
Who strove and who failed, acting bravely a silent and desperate part;
Whose youth bore no flower in its branches, whose hopes burned in ashes away,
From whose hands slipped the prize they had grasped at, who stood at the dying of day
With the wreck of their life all around them, unpitied, unheeded, alone,
With Death swooping down o’er their failure, and all but their faith overthrown,
While the voice of the world shouts its chorus, --its pæan for those who have won;
While the trumpet is sounding triumphant, and high to the breeze and the sun
Glad banners are waving, hands clapping, and hurrying feet
Thronging after the laurel crowned victors, I stand on the field of defeat,
In the shadow, with those who are fallen, and wounded, and dying, and there
Chant a requiem low, place my hand on their pain-knotted brows, breathe a prayer,
Hold the hand that is helpless, and whisper, “They only the victory win,
Who have fought the good fight, and have vanquished the demon that tempts us within;
Who have held to their faith unseduced by the prize that the world holds on high;
Who have dared for a high cause to suffer, resist, fight—if need be, to die.”
Speak, History! Who are Life’s victors? Unroll thy long annals and say;
Are they those whom the world called the victors, who won the success of a day?
The martyrs, or Nero? The Spartans, who fell at Thermopylae’s tryst,
Or the Persians and Xerxes? His judges or Socrates, Pilate or Christ?
407:901:288

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
[BCP:245:All Saint’s Day]

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