Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Blogging from Santa Fe

I'm at my grandparents' house in Santa Fe now... the snow is falling, the farolitos (what we call lumenarias in California) are lit - or plugged in, as the case may be - and I have finally wrested the computer from my "little" brother, who is a foot taller than me.

Now, what shall I write with my dearly-won computer time?

Have I posted an Advent poem yet? No? And I even had the O Antiphons all lined up and ready to go! But I was too jet-lagged to write them up.

I recently rediscovered the lines that started off Tolkien on the creation of his secondary world, before he had even written "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" on the back of that fabled exam paper. They are from Cynewulf's "Advent Lyrics," and begin "Eala Earendael." He wrote of reading those words, "I felt a curious thrill, as if something had stirred in me, half awakened from sleep. There was something very remote and strange and beautiful behind those words, if I could grasp it, far beyond ancient English." Tolkien identified "Earendael" with John the Baptist, but thought it must have originally referred to the Morning Star. Of course the name ends up becoming elvish, and is given to Elrond's father who pleads for Middle-Earth before the Valar...

Eala Earendael,
engla beorhtast
ofer middangeard
monnum sended
ond sothfaesta
sunnan leoma,
torht ofer tunglas,
thu tida gehwane
of selfum the
symle inlihtes.

Which is the beginning of this:

O Dayspring, brightest of angels sent to men upon middle-earth, and the sun's righteous radiance, of a brilliance exceeding the stars; Thou by Thine Own Self continually illumine every hour. If Thou, God long since begotten of God, Son of the truth Father, ever existed without beginning in the glory of heaven, then with confidence Thine Own creation prays to Thee now on account of its needs, that Thou send us that bright sun, and Thy Self come so that Thou mayest illumine those who, shrouded in murk and in darkness, have already long continued here in endless night; enveloped in sins they have had to endure the dark shadow of death. Full of hope now, we trust to the salvation brought to the multitudes through the Word of God which in the beginning was with the almighty Father, coeternal with God, and has now subsequently become flesh devoid of transgressions which the Virgin bore as a support to those in sorrow. God was with us, seen to be without sins; together they dwelt united, mighty Child of the Lord and Son of man, among men. We may address our thanks continually to the triumphant Lord according to His deeds, because He willed to send us Himself.

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