A Canticle for Advent: Let Us Be Transformed


There is no rose of such virtue
As is the Rose that bore Jesu:
For in this rose was contained
Heaven and earth in a small space.
Wondrous thing. Res miranda.
By that rose we may well see
There is one God in persons three.
Equally formed. Pares forma.
The angels sang; the shepherds, too:
Glory to God in the highest!
Let us rejoice. Gaudeamus.
Leave we all these worldly cares
And follow we this joyful birth.
Let us be transformed. Transeamus.
~Benjamin Britten “There is no rose” from “Ceremony of the Carols”1943

…thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1: 76-79 (Zechariah’s Song)

Although there are few references to roses in the Bible,  the symbolism of the depths of beauty and tenderness of the rose is found everywhere from Dante’s Paradisio, to elaborate ancient cathedral Rose Windows with Christ or Virgin Mary at the center.  It represents the miracle of heaven and earth bound together in the person of Christ in the Trinity.   Through His tender mercy, like Zechariah given back his voice,we become transformed by the coming of Christ.   We prepare to go before the Face of the Lord,  in His unfolding universe, unfurling like the center of a rose.

These daily Advent reflections are each devoted to one Christmas carol (or canticle) to prepare us for God dwelling among us– then, now and forever more.