Scripture: Lectionary # 201 (Christmas Eve). II Samuel 7:1-5.8-11.16. Psalm
89:2-3.4-5.27.29. Luke 1:67-79
We have taken several persons as guides through this Advent. Today as we
finish Advent and recall the messianic promise made to David and then
David’s song of thanksgiving and praise honoring God the primary person
involved in the covenant with David. He shall build the messianic house
but not the Temple. This seems to be the interpretation of both Jewish
scholars as well as liturgists and exegetes. Then after the person of
David we return to a prophetic hymn that is sung by Zechariah, the father
of John the Baptist. This is our morning hymn before making intercessions
in the liturgy of the hours, precisely, in Morning Praise. It balances
with what we saw of Mary’s Magnificat which is always prayed or sung at
Even-Song or Vespers.
We are given the prophetic voice of Zechariah, the father of John the
Baptist. He praises his son as being the forerunner of the Messiah whom he
probably knows to be the son to be born of Mary. He sings of that son as
being like the breaking in of the dawn at sunrise; the Messiah is the sun
because of the brightness he brings to the valleys of gloom and darkness on
earth. A new messianic era is beginning and John is the herald of that
coming of the Lord and Messiah. God’s mercy is seen in the birth of
Zechariah’s son who will tell us that God will shower earth with the
Messiah’s presence and we will be guided into the ways of peace.
What a consoling and helpful hymn for this season of hope and love. We sing
it just before our petitions and call it the Benedictus from its first
words–an Hebrew way of starting books by naming them form the first word
or words. We now await for all of the promises of God to be fulfilled in
the new way of realizing the covenant made with Abraham our faith father.
The prayer is a blessing of God and all that God has done to prevent our
enemies from harming us.
Just as John the Baptist preceded the birth of Jesus so we say in the
morning this hymn and then honor the one promised as the Messiah in Mary’s
hymn the Magnificat in our Even-Song or at Vespers. All of these hymns in
the Bible are inspired by the Holy Spirit who has made both Zechariah and
Mary come alive to us not only in scripture but also in liturgical and
worship music. These two hymns are the Christmas carols of the early
Christians that remain with us forever in our liturgical prayers. We open
the day with the call of prophecy and close it with its fulfillment in the
birth of Mary’s son. The Holy Spirit is our Guide and Comforter. We are
able to patiently await the last day before Christ’s birth and we do so by
singing these two ancient hymns. Amen.