Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bless you!




I HEARD ON THE RADIO that a young woman, a senior in high school, said, "Bless you!' when a classmate sneezed. The teacher instructed her, "Save that for church," then reminding her of the list of  forbidden classroom words such as dumb, stupid, boring, whatever, bless you. Some argument may have ensued about First Amendment rights before the girl was sent to the in-school suspension room. 

As a third grader in public school I remember in the late 1950's the day the live Christmas tree was brought to our classroom and our making colored paper chains to hang on it. There was a manger and a menorah on a little table up front. The school day started with a communal prayer and we learned the Ten Commandments. Public school! 

My friend, now deceased, Camaldolese Benedictine Sister Mary Placide Deliard, told me that when she was a girl in France in the 1920's, there was a man who as evening approached, went around her coastal village lighting the gas lamps. What was most memorable however, was that as he lit up the streets he sang a French song thanking God for the day's blessings; asking peace and safety for the evening and night time. When he died, either electric lights or a non-singing version of the lamplighter took his place. Different world.

But rather than lament the passing of that time we might memorize the lyrics to an evening hymn, and even if we don't have a melody - though we could easily hear a variety of tunes online, turn our thoughts to gratitude. Here's the lyrics to an evening hymn written by Samuel Longfellow 1819-1892. But how blessed would it be for a family to know several evening hymns with which to begin dinner.

Now, on Land and Sea Descending

Now, on land and sea descending,
Brings the night its peace profound;
Let our vesper hymn be blending
With the holy calm around.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Let our vesper hymn be blending
With the holy calm around.

Soon as dies the sunset glory,
Stars of heav'n shine out above,
Telling still the ancient story
Their Creator's changeless love.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Telling still the ancient story
Their Creator's changeless love.

Now, our wants and burdens leaving
To his care who cares for all,
Cease we fearing, cease we grieving:
At his touch our burdens fall.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Cease we fearing, cease we grieving:
At his touch our burdens fall.

As the darkness deepens o'er us,
Lo! eternal stars arise;
Hope and faith and love rise glorious,
Shining in the spirit's skies.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Hope and faith and love rise glorious,
Shining in the spirit's skies.

Jubilate: rejoice or be joyful in a shouting kind of way. Perhaps the closest we can come to it is the sound people make when their team wins!

2 comments:

  1. This is an encouraging and delightful post. It starts my day with a smile. With all the turmoil that surrounds us each day, these are welcoming thoughts for the day. The past holds such fond memories. Thank you for bringing some back for others to hear, in hopes, it would add pleasure to their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not having lived in the times you speak of, I can only comment on today. To begin with, the banning of the words "Bless you" seems absurd. What does this teacher think ought to be said when someone sneezes? Religious tolerances vary greatly not only from school to school within an area, but also in individual classrooms. School policies are in place so that one group is not favored over another, nor is there any bias shown. But that doesn't mean we should ignore that there are religious beliefs among the population. Teaching tolerance of different beliefs is more important than denying they might exist. How do the words bless you compare with the negative connotations of whatever or boring? It is sad to think there are teachers sending this message.

    ReplyDelete