Thursday, January 1, 2009

Our First Parents [UPDATED]

Then passed forth into the quiet night an ancient and time-worn hymn, embodying a quaint Christianity in words orally transmitted from father to son through several generations down to the present characters, who sang them out right earnestly:

. . . Remember Adam's fall
o thou man
From heav'n to hell!
How we were condemned all
In hell perpetual,
There for to dwell.

Remember God's goodness,
o thou man,
And promise made!
How he sent his son, doubtless
Our sins for to redress:
Be not afraid!

-- Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)

I found out at Mass on Christmas Eve day that it was also the Feast Day of Saints Adam and Eve. I had never thought of our first parents as saints, acclaimed by the Church as dwelling in heaven in the glory of God and interceding for us, their wayward children, on earth, but upon reflection it made a lot of sense.

Though disobedient to God and the authors of our own intrinsic sinfulness, Adam and Eve were saved through redemption. Christ, Saint Paul tells us, is the "last Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45), who ransomed us from the ineluctable condition of sin into which we fell through the disobedience of the first Adam. And Mary, according to Saint Irenaeus (whose feast day, incidentally, is also my birthday), is the New Eve, who loosened "[the] knot of Eve's disobedience . . . by [her own] obedience. The bonds fastened by the virgin Eve through disbelief were untied by the virgin Mary through faith."

I have a particular love for the saints of the Old Testament, especially the penitent musician David, and I am going to be adding our first parents, Saints Adam and Eve, to my litany and asking their help in the new year.

A happy and blessed new year to a who visit here.

(To hear a very nice solo performance of the hymn that the the Mellstock Quire sing in Thomas Hardy's novel, go here.)

UPDATE: via Maclin Horton, a beautiful poem by a Trappistine nun about Mary as the consoler of Eve. From that page, you can also hear the exquisite musical setting of "O Eve!" by Frank La Rocca. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

What treasures you find for us, Pentimento. First, "Komm, lieber Mai", and now this.

I really like this singer's version of the hymn - good diction, great breath control, no straying from the pitch. Just that little break in the voice as he goes for the low note on the third "man"

(The Third Man - heh)

which is endearing, rather than annoying.

What a shiny gem.


Pentimento said...

I really loved the trueness of his voice, his intonation, and the directness of his interpretation, Otepoti. Glad you liked it!

(Oh - my verification word is "swore.")