Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


Merry May Morning


Morning dawned gorgeous on May Day in Oxford. I was up at 5, out in the blue tinted air with the burnings embers of a new kindled sunrise on the horizon. Girded with good friends and the energy of dawn and motion, I joined the gathering river of people streaming through the early morning streets of Oxford, to gather in a slightly sleep-eyed crowd at the foot of Magdalen Tower. At 6 a.m. on the dot, a bell struck from the tower and the crowd shushed itself, the insistent sound like a sudden wind in the street. And the choir, watching the sun rise from the top of the tower, faced the dawn and began to sing:

The song is a traditional hymn of praise called "Hymnus Eucharisticus" and this is the translation from the original Latin:

O Thee, O GOD the FATHER--Thee, All worship, praise, and glory be! Thy hand bestows our daily bread, And that wherewith our souls are fed.

To Thee, O JESU--Thee, the SON-- To Thee, alone-begotten One, Who for our sakes didst not abhor The Virgin's womb--our hearts we pour.

When Thou upon Thy Cross wast laid, To GOD a willing offering made, The hope of life first dawned below-- Our joy, our only Saviour, Thou!

To Thee, O HOLY GHOST--by whom The Babe was born of Mary's womb, Both GOD and Man--to Thee we raise The hymn of everlasting praise.

O THREE IN ONE, Who didst devise Such pathway back to Paradise; This mystery of Love be sung In every age by every tongue!

The quiet was deep, the music in rich threads that seemed to twine with the rising light. And when the hymn, and a beautiful prayer, and another two songs were finished, thousands of people cheered:

And another marvelous May Morning joined a grand parade of other celebrations in Oxford. I could have danced right along with the Morris dancers with their bells and flowers twirling up and down the streets as we walked back to breakfast. And now, the sun is risen, the sky is blue, and my mind echoes with the music. Rejoice. Rejoice! Spring is here and life leaps up anew.

(PS. I've been absent from here for awhile. I've needed some space in which to reconnoitre the intensity of this season. I shall return soon.)