Thursday, December 6, 2012

Song for Tanner's Annunciation

A year ago, Bro. Jack Rathschmidt, a Capuchin from my home province, introduced me to a marvelous modern depiction of the Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, an American painter of the late 19th century. My postulant brothers and I spent an evening meditating on the striking composition, a visual form of "lectio divina."

I have returned this Advent season to the painting to fire my imagination, and this time I have written a song to complement the romantic lyricism I see in Tanner's composition.

Before you scan the lines of my song, click here to see Tanner's oil on canvas.


In the morning came the morning complete at my side
All alone before the angel, O where could I hide

Too awake to be like a dream
I remember the brilliant beam
And the whole of my life was right there found

On my bed I sat receiving the miracle light
Knew my eyes were not deceiving -- I feared at the sight

To look on and not disappear
In the presence of what was here
What a terrible favor from this day

I held my hands and waited with the fire in front of me
For disturbing news

Though the room was still with silence I heard many things
Of an end to war and violence, the rule of all kings

And it all sounded so absurd
It depended upon my word
Worlds of promise and peril lay by me

Now at once my body shivered -- I had to decide
Then my belly gave a quiver and stiffened like hide

What is coming has come to me
Don't know why it was done to me
I can only help hoping God will save

You do and you undo -- my life and times are in your hands
Give your word and choose.

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