Friday, April 30, 2010

Raymond Brown on Orthodoxy

"When the charge of heresy is raised in Christian communities today, there is a tendency to associate that stigma with wild-eyed radicals proposing new ideas. IN Christian history, however, some of the most significant heresies have been conservative rather than radical -- the tendency to hold on to old theological answers when new questions have caused the main body of Christians to move on to new answers. The Jewish Christians, as we detect their presence in John and know their presence in the second century, were holding on to oder and more primitive views on such subjects as Christology, the eucharist, and relations to Judaism, views that were widely held early in the first century but were now no longer deemed to be adequate expressions of truth. At the Council of Nicea ([325 CE]) the lower Christology of Arius was more primitive than the higher Christology of Athanasius. Arius was content with the scriptural formulations of Jesus' identity, e.g., 'In the beginning was the Word,' which meant for him that the Word had a beginning. Athanasius had to persuade the Council to accept newer, non-Scriptural formulas, e.g., true God of true God, coeternal with the Father. But he did this with insight: The Scripture answers were no longer adequate because now a question was being asked that had not been asked in [New Testament] times, and the new answers he proposed were true to to the direction of the Scriptures. "Orthodoxy," then is not always the possession of those who try to hold on to the past. One may find a truer criterion in the direction toward which Christian though has been tending, even if that direction suggests that past formulations of truth have to be considered inadequate to answer new questions." (Bold emphasis added, italics in original)

pp.80-81, The Community of the Beloved Disciple by Raymond Brown.

The Community of the Beloved Disciple

"The exalted Johannine christology is not some abstract test of orthodoxy that has nothing to do with community living. If it is crucial to believe that Jesus is the pre-existen Word of God who has come from God and is of God, it is because then we know what God is really like --- He really is a God of love who so love the world that He was willing to give of Himself, in His Son (3.16;I John 4.8-9), and not merely send someone else. And such an understanding of God and of Jesus demands that the Johannine Christian, who is the child of God, behave in a way worth of his Father and of Jesus his Brother: 'By this will all identify you as my disciples -- by the love you have for one another' (John 13.35)."

pp.60-61The Community of the Beloved Disciple, by Raymond Brown.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In the Works

I have a lot of news, so I need to write. But finals are winning. I'm trying to finish all my papers before finals week so that I can just study for my finals. I haven't been reading for...most (any) of my classes. Working on the papers. And the academic regulations. And still doing a good job, I think, taking sabbath. I sang sacred harp two weeks in a row during the mid-week sing, and set boundaries and did homework while listening. This weekend I'll try to get going. I have some "Going Paperless" entries in my head, and they have some things in them that I think need to be considered. That is all for now. Keep watching.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I love going from.


just to start all over again.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

St. Gregory the Great on Governing While Not Fulfilling the Appropriate Way of Life

Read: Gregory the Great's words are applicable to clergy abuse scandal.

Hence again, the Lord says by the Prophet concerning the priests: They were a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel. For no one does more harm in the Church than he, who having the title or rank of holiness, acts evilly. No one presumes to take to task such a delinquent, and the offense, serving as an example, has far-reaching consequences, when the sinner is honoured out of respect paid to his rank. Yet everyone who is unworthy would flee from the burden of such great guilt if with the attentive ear of heart he pondered on that saying: He that shall scandalise one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depths of the sea. By the millstone is symbolised the laborious round of worldly life, and by the depth of the sea final damnation is referred to. Therefore, if a man vested with the appearance of holiness destroys others by word or example, it certainly were better for him that his earhtly deed performed in a worldly guise, should press him to death, rather than that his sacred offices should have pointed him out to other for sinful imitation; surely, the punishment of hell would prove less sever for him if he fell alone.

Inverse Relationship

My charitable feelings toward the Roman Church's hierarchy are developing an inverse relationship to the continuing news breaking about sex abuse, cover-ups, and re-assignments that have gone on from centuries ago to today. I have for a few years made it a standard practice not to go to Mass because I can't receive, except with people or for respite from a hectic week and there is a Mass (whose structure will calm my nerves) being offered on a weekday. Now, however, that's intensifying. If the person I wind up spending the rest of my life is Catholic I won't be going to church with them.

Our children will not take part in that Church, and that's not even entirely about protecting them. I will not expose them in any way to a Church system that does not even try to give the appearance of true repentance, and I won't endorse it by any sort of participation. I am losing more and more faith in the management of that historic expression of Christianity. I don't even want to point a finger at someone to hang; I'm not looking for someone to blame or someone to get blamed or be a fall guy (and it's only guys in this case). I want to hear "We're sorry. This has been a problem. We are fixing it. What can we do to help?" Rather than "We're sorry, but this was someone else's jurisdiction," or "We're sorry, please don't talk about this, here's some money for damages," or "We're sorry, but these things happen. What can you do?"

What I don't want to hear is accusations and people's fury being dismissed as "petty gossip." I don't want to hear comparisons of uproar about abuse compared to anti-Semitism. And apologizing after the fact for saying it doesn't make it okay. When you posit yourself as the arbiter of truth, opposing gay marriage and reproductive rights and rallying thousands of dollars to those campaigns, and talk about things tearing the fabric of society but then are as corrupt, if not more so, than other large corporations, you've surrendered your self-indignation, particularly when the accusations are about some of the least of these, defenseless children who trust in authority.

"Trust us" is too late. The faithful have been trusting you...and are met daily with new accusations, more people coming forward. And rather than helping the people move forward, the Church is saying "Just trust us. We've got this under control. Don't listen to those people at the New York Times. They're trying to make us look bad because they just don't like Catholicism. Nothing really has gone wrong." Dismiss and deny isn't working out anymore. WE no longer live in an age where we just trust authority figured. And clinging to a bygone era just gets you left behind -- with everyone mad at you.

Tidy Vestments

Make the choirs of angels sing. The Power Ranger blue set is only considered cool by teenager Jesus. The Baby Jesus doesn't like it.

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Eternal Father, Spirit Word

The title is one of the lines from St. Patrick's Breastplate, which we encourage James to pray on his Tuesday train ride (for protection from demons at his destination, of course). At any rate, over the last year or so I've come to realize how much I love doxological verses of hymns. I grew up hearing a lot about Jesus or nondescript God (presumably the First Person of the Trinity). That's all well and good,but it doesn't give much weight to a co-equal and co-eternal Trinity if only two-thirds of it get much air time. Where's the fairness doctrine for the Persons of the Trinity?

I like the Spirit best, as much as one can like a person of the Trinity, separate, but entwined as they are. I think I like it best because it got so little attention, really, in much of my formation. ANd because it's kind of ethereal, mysterious, and harder to make (or presume to make) rock solid claims about. Doxological verses and constant reference to the Trinity, which I've found in a great abundance in The Episcopal Church, remind us that the Spirit is there. And if we keep in mind the presence of the Spirit we have to ask ourselves what She might be doing. She's still speaking, from the fortresses of power to the streets that need hugging.

Easter Hymns, Day 4: Thy Mercy My God

I was first introduced to this hymn in the fall. And I love it. Yesterday's song was late in part because I was busy, but also because this takes time. Finding the just right video is important, and it takes time. Also, I'm trying to meditate on my Easter songs as an Easter practice.

1. Thy mercy, My God, is the theme of my song
The joy of my heart, and boast of my tongue
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections and bound my soul fast.

2. Without thy sweet mercy I could not live here,
Sin soon would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through thy free goodness, my spirits revive
And he that first made me, still keeps me alive.

3. Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I found.

4. The door of thy mercy stands open all day
To the door and the need who knock by the way;
No sinner shall ever be empty sent back,
Who comes seeking mercy for Jesus' sake.

5. Thy mercy is Jesus exempts me from hell;
Its glories I'll sing, and its wonders I'll tell;
'Twas Jesus my all, as he hung on the tree,
Who opened the channel of mercy for me.

6. Great Father of mercies, thy goodness I own,
And the cov'nant love of thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit whose whisper divine,
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine!

Easter Hymns, Day 3: Lo, in the Grave He Lay

So there are two things that I'm going to be doing with my Easter songs, and it's my blog so I can. One, the songs aren't always going to be "Episcopal" type hymns or songs. There will probably be some resurgence of songs that I sang growing up before I knew about liturgical seasons. Second, they might not be explicitly "Easter" songs, but just think of them in light of the Resurrection. Sorry this is a day late. It's funny how busy I got...and watch the video below. It's similar to growing up. :)

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!


Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!


Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Messy Vestments

Make the Baby Jesus cry.

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Dust to Daffodils, Part 1

It was a long six weeks from remember that we are dust to walking down in a cassock 9th Ave looking at daffodils on my way to be a eucharistic minister at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's Easter 11:00 service. However, as I've contemplated the beauty of spring (and enjoyed the spring imagery I'd never noticed before) in Easter hymns, I realzied that I haven't necessarily talked a lot about what I've been doing. I posted songs and videos and commentary on news and such. Links and sundries, but not a lot of day-to-day, week-to-week goings on that I think Judy et al. might like to read about. It'll be splotchy, not chronological. Some pictures thrown in.

I had a fabulous Easter, perhaps the best I've had. Certainly the best I've had in a while. The Vigil was outstanding. I went to the Vigil on campus, where we were joined by the Church of the Ascension. All I have to say is wow. People in long white robes, shiny scarves, and a enormous cauldron of fire lighting a four-foot tall candle, then lots of people chanting as they follow this large candle. Then they sit in the dark, sing some more, then turn the lights on and sing
Earth her joy confesses,
clothing her for spring,
all fresh gifts return
with her returning King:
bloom in every meadow,
leaves on every bough,
speak his sorrow ended,
hail his triumph now.

Months in due succession,
days of lengthening light,
hours and passing moments
praise thee in their flight.
Brightness of the morning,
sky and fields and sea,
Vanquisher of darkness,
bring their praise to thee.
Christianity has never co-opted parts of other religions and used them for their purposes.

It was a fabulous service. The music was outstanding. We had a true celebration. After the vigil I went to sing karaoke with a friend of mine for a few hours then walked back to the Close for bed. I was up again the next morning to go up to the Cathedral. Me, Ben, and James opted to wear our cassocks for the commute up and take our surplices in a garment bag. We were on time, quickly briefed, did a little wandering, then went back to the sacristy to get dressed. That experience in its entirety was simply glorious.

Lining up in the ambulatory I thought, "This is a snapshot of years of ordinations and diocesan conventions to come." When the music started we were off. The processions were perfecly timed, both for us to get to the back to the church to receive the Bishop of New York, and for the whole big party to get up to the choir and sanctuary. Too many crosses in procession for my taste, but c'est la vie.  We were sitting just below the altar. The clergy were out-standing, all around. Gently and guiding, caring, and happy to have us. It was a truly joyful celebration. I served with one of the canons. There were two chalices for each paten, and let me tell you, the number of stations was great. They were expecting about 3,000 people, and it went really well. One of my favorite parts was when we were invited to "Sing the melody, harmony or another song all together" for the first and second verses of "Amazing Grace." Ben, James, and I were doing oblutions during that. And Ben and I both helped someone finish her chalice.

The service continued, we retired, and then walked back. That will be another post, though, because this is long enough.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Hymns, Day 2: Christ the Lord is Risen Today

I intentionally chose this over "Jesus Christ is Risen Today." I like this text better.

1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2. Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

5. Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6. King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Anthem

Sacred Harp tune 236

The Lord is ris’n indeed! Hallelujah!
Now is Christ risen from the dead,
And become the first-fruits of them that slept.
Hallelujah, and did He rise? did He rise?
Hear it ye nations! hear it, Oh ye dead!
He rose, He burst the bars of death
And triumphed o’er the grave.
Then I rose, then first humanity
Triumphant passed the crystal ports of light
And seized eternal youth.
Man, all immortal hail,
Hail heaven, all lavish of strange gifts to man,
Thine’s all the glory,
Man’s the boundless bliss.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Peeps Bunnies are an abomination.

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Rejoice now, heavenly hosts...

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our mighty King.

Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.

Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people.

All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty
for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam's sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.

This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.

How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and bring peace and concord.

How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.

Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning--he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, April 2, 2010

'Tis Finished, The Redeemer said

Sacred Harp Tune 365

’Tis finished, The Redeemer said,
And meekly bowed His dying head.
While we the sentence scan,
Come sinners, and observe the word,
Behold the conquest of the Lord,
Complete for sinful man.

Oh God, You're Dying

In the cross of Christ I glory

Sacred Harp Tune 532

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story,
Gathers ’round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive and fears annoy;
Never shall the cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way;
From the cross the radiance streaming
Adds more luster to the day.
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are satisfied;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that from all time abide.

What Wondrous Love is This

Sacred Harp Tune 159

What wondrous love is this!
Oh, my soul, oh my soul!
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse
For my soul?

When I was sinking down,
Sinking down, Sinking down,
Beneath God’s righteous frown
Christ laid aside His crown
For my soul.

To God and to the Lamb,
I will sing; I will sing;
Who is the great I Am,
While millions join the theme,
I will sing.

And when from death I’m free
I’ll sing on; I’ll sing on;
I’ll sing and joyful be,
Throughout eternity
I’ll sing on.

Good Friday

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

I have some entries set to post tomorrow through the course of the day, but they've been set beforehand. I think tomorrow I'm going to try to keep my computer pretty much closed and my iPhone pretty much not in Safari. I might do some Old Testament work tomorrow, but really feeling like cutting off from a lot of communication tomorrow, not just those things which I've cut out for Lent. Maybe texting to coordinate food, but not a lot of just browsing. Or streaming things on Netflix. Time to sit and meditate and read and see God around me and pay homage.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

Maundy Thursday II

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Benedict and the Board

There are two things in the front of my mind right now, Holy Week aside. These are two things in the forefront of my mind, things that both direct me directly or indirectly. These two things are both in the news, although one is limited to the Episcopal News Service kind of news while the other is really dominant in international news right now, including lots of space in the New York Times. (There are even people taking ads out in the Times in response to articles)!

The first thing in the front of my mind is my school. General Seminary's board met on Monday to talk about what to do and where to go from here. And it's promising. There are some issues, but everything is looking up. We've found the issues, and we're working to correct them. We might be partnering in some neat ways with other institutions to not just work for General's future, but also the future of theological education and the future of The Episcopal Church. I have a very positive outlook here. We're getting things done and planning on ways to keep from getting right back where we are.

The other thing in the front of my mind, in large part because Andrew Sullivan won't let up. He keeps quoting things, talking, posting readers remarks, and making me think. He has a great piece called "Sin or Crime?" that is well worth the read. He posts a lot of other stuff, but doesn't use labels that I can tell, so you can't just click a link and get all his coverage (which is a lot of linking to other stories) about this issue. It makes me hurt for the Church for a lot of reasons. I certainly hurt for victims, too and am not defending the Church. But I hurt for the damage it has done to its moral authority.

How do these two things affect me you might ask? Well, one of them is my school, my future. Like I said, things are looking up! The sex abuse scandal doesn't directly affect me. The critiques and criticisms are mostly directed at the Roman Church and its hierarchy. But in all honesty that affects how people perceive our men and women in collars, too. And as someone being trained to be a leader in the faith, it affects the kinds of conversations I have with people when I say, "I'm in training to be a priest." (This was one of the drunken conversations at the piano bar in Vegas.) It may be tempting to say to the general public, "Well, we're more transparent, our laity have voice in how our bishops are chosen, blah blah blah blah blah," but I don't think that's appropriate. People are hurting; they don't need to be recruited into another system as their reeling from the Church that they potentially love and may have been their home their entire life.

These two things are teaching me something, and I got to put it into practice yesterday. When mistakes are made, intentionally or unintentionally, the people affected like for someone to step up to the plate and say, "I messed up." Andrew Sullivan points out that most of the reaction from the Vatican and American bishops has been either denial or to attack those who are critical, often by calling names. This is denial after decades (centuries) of this being not talked about and not dealt with. And now we have more people saying "I didn't know," "It wasn't my fault," and that they won't "be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion."

As has been discussed a lot around the Close, in times of crisis or impending crisis or pseudo-crisis, people may be quick to assign blame, or not assign it and just want someone to point a finger of blame at. It's probably true that that often happens. I think there are times when people just want those who bore responsibility to own that responsibility. Not to have closed door meetings and be less than forthcoming about what is actually going on, but to include the people who have been, are being, and will be affected in the process of determining next steps, for justice or for institutional advancement.

People might want a heartfelt apology so that they can move on with what's going on in their lives. If things are on the up, that's great! But people might want to know what happened for an institution to get where it is. In the case of the Vatican, it's been years of covering up to protect the image of the Church. At school, I don't know what happened. But I feel like cash flow problems of this magnitude don't come out of nowhere. And no one's taking responsibility (at any level) engenders some anxiety. Yes, we might be staying open for a good, long while. But what are we doing to keep us from coming back to this place? If we haven't been told what/where the systemic issues were/are, why should we think that the system has addressed those issues?

I don't write from a place of anger or anxiety, I really don't. I don't have anyone in my head to blame, nor do I have any ideas about where I'd start if I wanted to point fingers. I'm going to keep doing the work I've been given to do, saying my prayers, doing my homework, and going to chapel and class. Apparently at the meeting someone did offer an apology that helped the situation. As I said on Episcopal Café, I was in class, so I didn't get to go to the meeting. However a little more clarity about what's been going on, I think, is far more helpful than reading "I think they're a little over-anxious. The chair tried to assure them that we will be here," on The Lead (where I also saw a press release about the meeting before I got any kind of official summary of the meeting from within the community).

It looks like there's going to be more clear communication with students, faculty, and staff as things keep going. But I think our anxieties over a vast array of issues that are being discussed in groups of students, faculty, and staff and being communicated to the board, are well grounded. Nothing is encouraging beforehand about an emergency board meeting being called, ya know? ;) This whole post -- from Benedict to the Board -- is to say....when your boss asks you how something you're supposed to be doing is going and you haven't been doing it for about a month, it's okay to say so. And say that you'll get back on it. Have an intention to amend your behavior. And in a larger theme of life, when you mess up be forthright about it. Don't wait until you're about to go to jail, or you have the New York Times and any other number of media outlets blasting you, or the community over which you're in charge is having a prayer vigil.

It might have been a failure in leadership. But denying that, on any level about anything, doesn't make it any less a failure of leadership.

Maundy Thursday I

Now, my tongue, the mystery telling
of the glorious Body sing,
and the Blood, all price excelling,
which the gentiles' Lord and King,
in a Virgin's womb once dwelling,
shed for this world's ransoming.

Given for us, and condescending,
to be born for us below,
he, with men in converse blending,
dwelt the seed of truth to sow,
till he closed with wondrous ending
his most patient life of woe.

That last night, at supper lying,
'mid the twelve, his chosen band,
Jesus, with the law complying,
keeps the feast its rites demand;
then, more precious food supplying,
gives himself with his own hand.

Word-made-flesh true bread he maketh
by his word his Flesh to be;
wine his Blood; which whoso taketh
must from carnal thoughts be free;
faith alone, though sight forsaketh,
shows true hearts the mystery.

Therefore we, before him bending,
this great Sacrament revere;
types and shadows have their ending,
for the newer rite is here;
faith, our outward sense befriending,
makes our inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
to the Father, and the Son,
honor, might and praise addressing,
while eternal ages run;
ever too his love confessing,
who from both with both is one.