Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advent 3 Saturday: O Adonai

O Adonai, Ruler of the house of Israel, you appeared in the burning bush to Moses and gave him the law on Sinai: Come with outstretched arm to save us. Come, Lord Jesus.

The title given to the Messiah here is "Adonai," Hebrew for "Lord." Adonai is used as a placeholder in the Hebrew bible for the unspeakable, unpronounceable, most holy name of God. Though the text may read the four letters-- yod, heh, vav, heh, which many Christians pronounce "Yahweh" or "Jehovah"-- the cantor in a synagogue will replace that word with "Adonai."

Of course, Adonai also means "Lord" in much the same way "Lord" has been understood as designating a man of great nobility-- as in the house of lords. So the use of Adonai as a Hebrew Messianic title does not automatically take us to the mystery of the incarnation. But the resonance is there for us, as Christians.

Here, a choir from Rome singing "O Adonai" with some fascinating silent film footage illustrating Moses and the Lord on Mount Sinai:

And here, something I wish I'd found yesterday: music of Hildegard of Bingen, "O virtus sapientiae":

Is it wrong for me to want to hear women's voices in these late Advent days?

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