Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Historically, Lutherans have regularly celebrated only two festivals of the Blessed Virgin Mary - the Purification and the Annunciation. These two festivals were continued by Luther in his statements "Concerning the Order of Public Worship." (LW, vol. 53, Liturgy and Hymns, p. 14.)
In this statement Luther also continued, for the time being, her Assumption (August 15) and her Nativity (September 8).

A 1731 Lutheran calendar retains the title The Assumption of Mary. Loehe's 1868 calendar styles it as The Homecoming of Mary. Both of these calendars retain the festival of The Nativity of Mary.

These festivals have begun to be included in various Lutheran calendars during the last 40 years. The Assumption is generally renamed St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord (St. Mary, Mother of God). The Nativity of Mary is usually overlooked.

No matter by what name we title this festival, it is the day we commemorate the falling asleep of the Mother of God, comforted in the arms of her son and Lord, Jesus Christ.

A Office hymn of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Quem Terra, pontus, sidera

The God whom earth, and sea, and sky
Adore, and laud, and magnify,
Whose might they own, whose praise they swell,
In Mary's womb vouchsafed to dwell.

The Lord whom sun and moon obey,
Whom all things serve from day to day,
Was by the Holy Ghost conceived,
Of her who through His grace believed.

How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
The great Artificer divine,
Whose hand contains the earth and sky,
Once deigned, as in his ark, to lie:--

Blest in the message Gabriel brought,
Blest by the work the Spirit wrought;
From whom the Great Desire of earth
Took human flesh and human birth.

All honour, laud and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee,
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost for evermore. Amen.

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