The Song of the Son

With the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) appearing as a potential reading in the lectionary last Sunday and again this coming Sunday and with the Annunciation to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) standing as the Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Advent, it seems timely to share an excerpt from a sermon entitled, “Let Heav’n and Nature Sing!” from my book Leaps of Faith:

“The musicality of the opening chapters of the Gospel of Luke seems appropriate, for the singing accompanies the coming in the flesh of the Word that has been sung from all eternity by the Father on the breath of the Holy Spirit. The harmonious melody, which has resounded within the life of the triune God from before the beginning of time, was now about to perfectly sound forth in the life of the child conceived in Mary’s womb.1 Although no one could have anticipated this development which saw the great composer taking up a chair within the symphony of creation, those who have beheld his glory can read backwards and hear traces and echoes of the divine melody throughout the sacred story. Long before all worlds were made, the harmonious melody of the Father’s song of delight in his Son and the Son’s song of undying love for his Father were carried on the eternal breath of the Holy Spirit. Even though this love song was complete and perfect in itself within the life of the triune God, God did not aspire to keep this melody to himself. It was God’s desire to share its melodious strains with others outside of God’s own life. So the melody that had eternally resounded within the life of God now sounded forth for the first time outside of God bringing all of creation into being. As John the Evangelist memorably put it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of mankind” (1:1–4). To transpose John’s assertion into a slightly different key, we could say that the Word is the melody that resounds through all of creation. The music of the spheres, the dance of life, the symphony of creation—they are all set to the song of the Son.2

  1. Ken Michell, the Director of Worship at Bridlewood Presbyterian Church, rightly pointed out to me afterwards that, strictly speaking, a “harmonious melody” is a contradiction in terms. While musically suspect, the phrase “harmonious melody” may nonetheless helpfully point us to the mystery of difference-in-unity which characterizes the life of the triune God. If the term harmony were used by itself we would run the risk of losing sight of the fact that the Son is the exact imprint or repetition of the Father (homoousios, in the terminology of the Nicene Creed). If we simply employed the term melody, we would risk conflating the Father and the Son.
  2. Robert J. Dean, Leaps of Faith: Sermons from the Edge (Eugene, OR: Resource, 2017), 70.

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