From Dark Destiny ~ book three of the Dark Birthright Saga
“Easter Sunday – April 17, 1650″
It was just after midnight. The monks stood in the dark around an open fire, waiting to ascend the steps of the cruciform-shaped church. They were dressed in ceremonial garb, white flowing garments that draped to the ground, and were barefoot.
James Gordon was with them. He’d been given a choice – to attend a later ceremony with the servants or to join the monks as a guest. His choice had been the latter, and so far he wasn’t disappointed. The boy was dressed in a white robe and was naked underneath…
Now, the Abbott lit the Christ candle and traced a cross upon it. He held it up and began the liturgy. “Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the ending. To Christ belongs all time and all the ages. To Christ belongs glory and dominion now and forever. Amen.”
The monks responded, “Amen.”
James whispered, “Amen.”
The Abbott held up the candle with reverence. “Behold the light of Christ, rising in Glory, as it dispels the darkness of our hearts and minds.” He led the procession up the steps of the church and opened the wooden door. As he entered the vestibule, he lifted the candle and repeated, “Behold the light of Christ.”
The monks murmured, “Thanks be to God.” One by one, they dipped their fingers in the font of holy water and made the sign of the cross. Then they proceeded into the church proper.
James was the last to enter. The flagstone floor felt cold under his bare feet. Following Brother Adam, he walked past carved pews until they stopped at a latticework chancel. He looked around. The church was illuminated by a few pillar candles. They entered and sat in a pew.
The Abbott stood at the altar and raised the Christ candle high, “Behold the light of Christ.”
James heard the monks respond, “Thanks be to God.” He took a breath and repeated, “Thanks be to God.”
The Abbott blessed the candle and placed it on the altar. Brother Adam retrieved a hymnal from the pew and opened it to a specific page. He handed it to the boy.
James scanned the page. There was a musical score with accompanying words – in Latin and English. He kept his voice low, “What is this?”
Adam whispered, “We pray in Gregorian Chant.”
James held his breath as the monks began to chant. His eyes searched for the translation.
♫ Victimae paschali laudes
Agnus redemit oves:♫
“May you praise the Paschal Victim,
immolated for Christians.
The Lamb redeemed the sheep:”
♫ Christus innocens Patri
Mors et vita duello
dux vitae mortuus,
“Christ, the innocent one,
has reconciled sinners to the Father.
A wonderful duel to behold,
as death and life struggle:
The Prince of life dead,
now reigns alive.”
♫ Dic nobis Maria,
quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:♫
“Tell us, Mary Magdalen,
what did you see in the way?
I saw the sepulchre of the living Christ,
and I saw the glory of the Resurrected one:”
♫ Angelicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecedet suos in Galilaeam.♫
“The Angelic witnesses,
the winding cloth, and His garments.
The risen Christ is my hope:
He will go before His own into Galilee.”
♫ Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
tu nobis, victor Rex,
“We know Christ to have risen
truly from the dead:
And thou, victorious King,
have mercy on us.”
♫ Amen. Alleluia.♫
The chanting stopped and the church was quiet. Brother Adam whispered, “That hymn was written in 1048. It expresses the simple, living and childlike faith that the Saints were known to have.”
James felt a chill run up his spine. “Oh.”
“We must have this faith.” The monk smiled. “Faith sustains us through times of joy and times of terrible troubles. Each life is made up of these.”
James whispered, “Yer life, too?”
“Aye. I will tell ye about it tomorrow.” He faced forward and bowed his head in prayer.
James listened as the monks began to chant. They sang in perfect harmony, celebrating the light of Christ. The boy felt like he was floating on a cloud. He was shocked to find tears on his cheeks, and wiped them away. Oh! What is happening to me?
Just then, a white light emerged from the Christ candle. It crossed the chapel and descended upon him.
The monks concluded the chant with “Amen. Alleluia.”
James responded with conviction, “Amen. Alleluia.”
For the first time in his life, he knew peace and redemption.
The story continues in DARK DESTINY ~ book three of the Dark Birthright Saga: http://www.DarkBirthrightSaga.com
Would you like to experience Gregorian Chant? The Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz have a wonderful CD called ‘Chant’. Available on iTunes, at Amazon, and other music retailers.