Dec 28, 2011

The Holy Innocents

Today is the feast day on which the Church remembers the slaughter of innocent children by Herod in his maniacal search for the King revealed to him by the visiting Magi.

Bobby Gross puts it this way in Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God (IVP 2009):

"To remember Herod’s atrocity is to strip sentimentality from the birth of Christ. On this day we confront the evil in our world, the violence of the powerful against the weak, the sorrow of those who suffer injustice, and the very real darkness into which the light shines." (69)

At this time of remembering the light, we often forget our darkness-- the darkness that made it necessary for a Redeemer to come as one of us.

The Coventry Carol, which we hear often at Christmas but rarely listen to, is about the Innocents:

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Here is a beautiful rendition by the lovely soprano-lute duo, Valeria Mignaco and Aflonso Marin.

I'll close with the Collect for today from the Book of Common Prayer, so that we may join the collected voices of the people of God in praying for justice:

We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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