Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Saint John Henry Newman's Meditation

When people know little else about St. John Henry Newman, they may know his "Meditation", included in the collection of prayers, litanies, and meditations he prepared for the boys of the Oratory School in Birmingham, published posthumously in 1893. It's included in Louis Bouyer's edition of Prayers, Verses and Devotions, from Ignatius Press. It's from the section on "Hope in God-Creator" in "Meditations on Christian Doctrine", dated March 7, 1848:

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.

The Sixteen and Harry Christophers will perform two settings of adaptations of this meditation, with music composed by Sir James MacMillan, who composed the Mass for Newman's beatification by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2010, and Will Todd. The Genesis Foundation UK is sponsoring the concert, which will be carried on Classic FM's Facebook page tomorrow at 7 pm BST, 11 am PT, and 1 pm CT (thus 2 pm ET). I'm sure there will be a CD forthcoming from The Sixteen. 

Here's more information about the concert from website of The Sixteen:

The Genesis Foundation and The Sixteen announce a special concert inspired by the life and writings of Cardinal Newman, who was canonised as Saint John Henry Newman in 2019. Newman: Meditation & Prayer will take place at 7pm on Thursday 10 June at Farm Street Church in London’s Mayfair (The Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception).

The concert will be live streamed for free on Classic FM’s Facebook page and available on demand for a month afterwards; it will feature the world premieres of two new Genesis Foundation choral music commissions by Sir James MacMillan and Will Todd. Joining them will be Classic FM’s flagship morning show presenter Alexander Armstrong, reading the words of Cardinal Newman and the poet and churchman John Donne.

Sign up to receive a digital concert programme:

Perhaps you can still cut and paste that link and get the programme.

I'm looking forward to hearing it--The Sixteen will also perform works by Robert Parsons and Christopher Tye, with a reading of a section of John Donne's Sermon preached at Whitehall on February 29, 1627:

So then, the death of the righteous is a sleep. Those that sleep in Jesus Christ will God fetch out of the dust, but declare that they have been in his hands ever since they departed out of this world. They shall awake as Jacob did, and say as Jacob said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven, and into that gate they shall enter, and in that house they shall dwell, where there shall be no cloud nor sun, no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light, no noise nor silence, but one equal music, no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession, no foes nor friends, but an equal communion and identity, no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity. Keep us Lord so awake in the duties of our callings, that we may thus sleep in thy peace, and wake in thy glory, and change that infallibility which thou affordest us here, to an actual and undeterminable possession of that kingdom which thy Son our Saviour Christ Jesus hath purchased for us, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. Amen.

I'm trying to figure out the connection between Newman's meditation and Donne's sermon!!

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