Tenebrae in 2020
The Lord has laid waste without pity
All the habitations of Jacob
O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
He has brought low in dishonor
The kingdom and its leaders
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark
In blazing anger He has cut down
All the might of Israel
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral
As, in a theatre, the lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
He has stripped his Booth like a garden
He has destroyed His Tabernacle
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing façade are all being rolled away
Her prophets, too, receive
No vision from the Lord.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Note: Readings from Lamentations have long been traditional in the offices of the last days of Holy Week, together with particular Psalms. This year’s “Great Isolation” gave me the idea of setting some lines from T.S. Eliot’s East Coker as a responsory to verses from today’s scripture, Lam 2:1-9 (new JPS), and from Ps 51. This week, we pray to walk—as individuals, church, society, and world—with Jesus through a time in which meaning itself waits to reveal itself. (The photograph is by Barbara Morgan showing dancer and choreographer Martha Graham performing her composition, Lamentation).