The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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A hymn to the cross

Canisius | 30 April, 2006 01:25

A few quick notes on the simply marvelous hymn in VIII,122-3.

1) First, the hymn says at one point:

By the Cross, the last made of creatures is associated with the morning stars, and repairs heaven's losses.

My interpretation: the "morning stars" are the angels, who were the first to "rise" in creation and are located in heaven. The "last made of creatures" is man, of course. Man was saved by the Cross, and the number of saved humans makes up for the number of lost angels.

2) The hymn has these extraordinary verses:

O mighty Cross! Thou drawest the whole world to thyself, and, with they two arms, embracest all mankind.

O lofty Cross! Thou penetratest into the depths below, and raisest to heaven the captives thou loosest.

The first time through, I didn't catch the cruciform shape of this imagery. The two arms that embrace all mankind show the cross as reaching out horizontally as far as the world is wide; the penetration into hell and subsequent exaltation of redeemed souls to heaven show the cross extending vertically as far up and down as the cosmos.

3) Lastly, the hymn offers this puzzler:

On thee, Christ offered the Temple of his Flesh--which had been built in the number of days expressed by the four Greek letters composing Adam's name....

Here's the deal. John 2:19-20 record that Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" But they Jews misunderstood Jesus, because he was speaking about the "temple" of his flesh.

Now in Greek, each letter of the alphabet does double-duty as a number. In that system, A = 1, D = 4, and M = 40. So when you add up A+D+A+M, you get 46!

Of course, this does leave us with the odd assertion that Jesus' body was "built up" in 46 years. Perhaps the hymnographer meant that it was mystically built in 46 years inasmuch as Jesus is the "new Adam".


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