Litany, Rossetti and Cardiphonia-style

In preparing to lead the service at my church this Sunday – looking at Revelation 10-11:14 – I’ve found myself reading some of Christina Rossetti’s devotional commentary on Revelation, Face of the Deep. If you’re looking for a systematic unpacking of a complex book, probably don’t go to Rossetti, but if you want to read some beautiful prayers, poems and reflections by a deep woman of faith, then it’s well worth a read. Here, as a taster, is a fusion of some of her best prayers, modernised slightly to be more easily read today.

I’ve also just discovered this gem of an album from the great folks at Cardiphonia, a collection of songs based around Charles Wesley’s hymns for the Great Litany. It’s not quite the obvious fit for reading Rossetti, but I’m finding it a comforting and inspiring listen.


Litany from Revelation 10-11

Adapted from Christina Rossetti, Face of the Deep: A Devotional Commentary on the Apocalypse

You who were poor until your baptism was accomplished:

Pity us, accomplish your will in us.

You who finished the work your father gave you to do:

Pity us, finish your work by us and in us.

You who said, “It is finished,” in the ending of your agony:

Pity us, bring us to a good end.

Yes, Lord most pitiful, pity us. Amen.

O merciful Lord Jesus, grant that now your rebuke might enlighten and enkindle us, so it will not consume us.

You who once made yourself as a man in whose mouth was no reproof, rebuke us, but with justice, not in your anger, or you would bring us to nothing.

You who became a reproof among your enemies and neighbours, save us from the reproof of the one that could consume us.

You who know our reproof, our shame and our dishonour, deliver us from our enemies, who are all in your sight.

O Christ, the saint of saints, who called us to be saints: in the day of destruction, save us. Christ our refuge, do not exclude us. Our redeemer, do not despise us. Our safety, do not deny us. Our Saviour, do not destroy us. Our brother, do not reject us. Our friend, do not forsake us. Our all in all, do not fail us. Amen.

“And can it be that I should gain…”: Streaming Page CXVI’s “Lent to Maundy Thursday”

tumblr_inline_n1kjrsZuiP1qbj8fsWhat is the first note of Lent? Ash Wednesday – this year on March 5th, next Wednesday in fact, will in most churches sound a low and melancholy tone, pregnant with penitence and reflection. But contemporary hymnsters, Page CXVI, begin their “Lent to Maundy Thursday” with jubilation: Charles Wesley’s classic “And can it be that I should gain”, a reminder to all for whom the forthcoming season of Lent is a time of repentance and reflection, that Christ’s is our one sufficient sacrifice.

For the next week at The Consolations of Writing, we will be streaming an advanced preview of the next instalment in Page CXVI’s sequence of songs working through the church year. The album will be released on Tuesday 4th March. You can find out more about the album and related projects through the band’s blog here. Be sure to buy your own copy of the album when it’s released.

As an extra feature for these seven days, I will also be releasing a number of pre-Lent poems: a chance to think about who Jesus is and how He changes lives. Here is the first, to accompany the first song from “Lent to Maundy Thursday”. Happy listening.

Wednesday Before Lent

The Cross breaks expectations. Mine I bring
limply, tacitly, proudly – as though I
can change time and history to my ends.

And yet You, ever surprising,
rebuke and restore in seamless, swift
defiant fulfilment of law within Your flesh.

And can it be? Your eyes, staring deep
into souls' past and posterity, rich
with wisdom’s grace, know full well it can.