Saturday, 25 November 2006

Awake the Silence of the Morn

There is something intensely powerful about praying in the small hours of the night. As a seminarian, I remember Bishop Crowley advising us to practice prayer - on occasion - in the stillness of the night; something I have rarely done. A visit to the Cistercians, at Mount St Bernard's Abbey in Leicstershire, had a deep impact, as the monks sang the Divine Office in the early morning, their gentle chant rising in the vast dark space of the Church - no congregation save the angels and saints. It was praise for God alone, free from all other distractions.

As we prayed the Office of Matins (or Office of Readings) at 3.00am this morning, that same feeling returned strongly. In the massive darkness of the Cathedral, all our prayer was intensely focussed on the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament, a pool of light in that encompassing gloom. The Office Hymn prayed, "Now as our anthems, upward borne, awake the silence of the morn/ enrich us with thy gifts of grace, from heav'n, thy blissful dwelling place!" There was a sense of timelessness, and of reaching out beyond this world to commune with the Divine, as the soft chant gently went forth into the night.

1 comment:

John Woodhouse said...

Wonderfully evocative photographs. We too have risen in the early hours at Mount St Bernard abbey summoned by the great bell in the tower. Our dear friend Father Mark Hartley lives there and the Panel of Monastic Musicians of which he is secretary has done much good work. The early morning is such a strange time - I will await the dawn!