Who Can Bear the Thought of That Advent?

Detail of St. John the Baptist from the Isenheim Altarpiece, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar, Alsace, France.
Detail of St. John the Baptist from the Isenheim Altarpiece, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar, Alsace, France.

See where I am sending an angel of mine, to make the way ready for my coming! All at once the Lord will visit his temple; that Lord, so longed for, welcome herald of a divine covenant. Ay, says the Lord of hosts, he is coming; but who can bear the thought of that advent? Who will stand with head erect at his appearing? He will put men to a test fierce as the crucible, searching as the lye that fullers use. From his judgement-seat, he will refine that silver of his and cleanse it from dross; like silver or gold, the sons of Levi must be refined in the crucible, ere they can offer the Lord sacrifice duly performed. Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings of Juda and Jerusalem, as he did long since, in the forgotten years. Come I to hold assize, not slow to arraign the sorcerer, the adulterer, the forsworn, all of you that deny hired man his wages, widow and orphan redress, the alien his right, fearing no vengeance from the Lord of hosts. In me, the Eternal, there is no change, and you, sons of Jacob, are a people still.

Yours to keep the law ever in mind, statute and award I gave to assembled Israel through Moses, that was my servant. And before ever that day comes, great day and terrible, I will send Elias to be your prophet; he it is shall reconcile heart of father to son, heart of son to father; else the whole of earth should be forfeit to my vengeance.

Malachias iii. 1-6, iv. 4-6.

And Thou Childe

Detail of St. John the Baptist from the Isenheim Altarpiece, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar, Alsace, France.
Detail of St. John the Baptist from the Isenheim Altarpiece, Unterlinden Museum, Colmar, Alsace, France.

And after the seconde lesson, throughout the whole yere, shalbe used Benedictus dominus deus Israel, etc. in Englishe as followeth:

BLESSED be the lorde God of Israel : for he hath visited and redemed his people.
And hath lyfted up an horne of salvacyon to us : in the house of his servaunt David.
As he spake by the mouth of his holy Prophetes : which hath bene syns the world began.
That we shoulde be saved from our enemies : and from the handes of all that hate us.
To perfourme the mercy promised to our fathers : and to remember his holy covenaunt.
To perfourme the othe whiche he sware to our father Abraham : that he would geve us.
That we being delivered out of the handes of our enemies might serve him without feare,
In holynesse and ryghteousnes before him all the dayes of our lyfe.
And thou childe, shalte bee called the prophete of the highest: for thou shalte goe hefore the face of the Lord, to prepare his wayes.
To geve knowledge of salvacion unto his people : for the remission of their sinnes.
Through the tender mercie of our god : whereby the dayespryng from an hygh hath visited us;
To geve lighte to them that sitte in darkenes, and in the shadowe of death : and to guide our fete into the way of peace.

Glory be to the father, &c.
As it was in the beginnyng, &c.

— The Song of Zachary; Benedictus: and Thanksgiving for the performance of God’s promises. Order of Mattins from the Book of Common Prayer (1549).