Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Let all mortal flesh keep silence and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descended our full homage to demand.
The culture’s Christmas frenzy has gone over the top even for me. I’m usually the last to concede in my house – holding out for good intentions to the very end. People decorate early because of less time at home, escape to glittering cities for shows and shopping not found in our humble town, desire music with jingles and beats felt not only in our hearts but through car windows at the stop light. I must admit we are desperately searching. We have so much; but can one ever have enough happiness, joy, and light?
Reading the ancient text of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” another sentiment pulsates deep in my heart and louder in my ear. It completely stops me in my tracks – the mystery that a child comes to earth with only blessing in his hand. I am filled with awe and wonder that this babe of Mary is also King of all kings, Lord of all lords, and Light of all light. This One gives his life as our heavenly food – food that mysteriously satisfies the faithful once and for all. The visual glimmers as the heavenly hosts, rank on rank, join the Light that descends to us, light so bright that angels cover their faces and cry with unending Alleluias!
The late 4th century Greek text, one of the oldest still used today, was an ancient church prayer chanted as bread and cup were brought to the table of the Lord. Our 1864 translation by Robert Moultrie is sung to a French melody whose minor tonality and chant-like nature perfectly express the awe and majesty of the text. We will experience both solemnity and wonder as we hear this carol on the first Sunday of Advent by handbells during communion and the second Sunday, sung by the Youth Choir.
O God, stop us in our tracks as we search for moments to “ponder nothing earthly minded” and focus on the mystery and gift of your son – in body and blood – which brings more happiness, joy and light to our lives than we can imagine! We offer you every part of ourselves and add our Alleluias to the voices of the ages.
— Terri Vancil