Friday, August 07, 2009

On the Feast of John Mason Neale

From the Book of Common Prayer...
Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I've got to confess that I get some real enjoyment in studying the Anglican Liturgical Calendar. While ya' come across many familiar names of saints, martyrs and others, you also tend to come across the "who is this?" John Mason Neale falls into the latter category. John Mason Neale was a nineteenth century Anglican Priest and composer who unknown to most, has left a lasting mark on our culture. The priest has a special place in my heart as he too, was a guy that couldn't get his head around higher mathematics.

Father Neale served the Anglican Church during the emergence of the Oxford Movement, a thrust to restore "high church" worship within the Church of England, and other Anglican bodies. Despite the majesty of high church worship, many within the body, laity and clergy alike regarded the movement with suspicion. Some even considered Oxford movement members as "agents of Rome" (WOW, sounds like a plot from a Jack Chick comic...) Father Neale wasn't spared any persecution shared by his fellow travelers. In fact, the priest was inhibited for fourteen years and was nearly stoned at a funeral. Our God was with Father Neale as his witness shined above the troubles and even his most strident opponents were reconciled to the man.

Now what about Father Neale's thumbprint on our culture? Well if yer' like me, your a fool for Christmas and traditional Christmas music (No Rudolph allowed here). The priest composed carols like "Good Christian Men Rejoice" and "Good King Wenceslas". Additionally he translated, the mighty Advent carol "O Come, Emmanuel".

Father John Mason Neale's legacy should encourage us to slough on, regardless of adversity. Those things which we do today do matter and will be remembered in that Day of the Lord. What we do today may well impact lives for generations to come. Think about it; have you been filled with a sense of awe while listening to or singing O Come Emmanuel?

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