Now in holy celebration
Now in holy celebration. Laurence Housman* (1865-1959).
This is a translation of a 15th-century Latin hymn, ‘Festum matris gloriosae’, celebrating the visit of the Virgin Mary to St Elizabeth (Luke 1: 39-45). Housman omits verse 2 of the Latin, which refers to the curing of Elizabeth’s barrenness (Luke 1: 7, 24-25); it is perhaps a weakness of his version that Elizabeth is never named directly. The hymn is rich in complex paradoxes, notably in verse 2, in which Elizabeth’s unborn child, John the Baptist, as yet without a word, speaks through his mother to Mary, mother of the incarnate Word:
Lo, the advent Word confessing, Spake for joy the voice yet dumb,Through his mother's lips...
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