The Song of the Lamb
“Great and wonderful are your works,
Lord God almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
or glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All the nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Songs need no explanation. As a child I sang "Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies" without ever wondering what rosies or posies might be. More recently I got a kick out of All About that Bass though the words don't seem to relate to its suggestions; or perhaps I'm in the dark because no one has dared to explain it to a priest. As the Christmas season comes I wonder how many people will ask, "What are cloven skies and unfurled wings?" They won't ask; they'll just sing.
Songs stand on their own with neither explanation nor apology, inviting everyone to sing along. And so we hear "those who had won the victory over the beast" singing the Song of the Lamb; their joyousness invites us to join in the chorus.
The New Testament has many songs; Saints Luke, Paul and John of Patmos made a point of recording them. The Holy Spirit rushed across the Roman world with the impulse of the disciples, arousing wonder and delight. The old songs didn't fit the new way of life so creative song writers sprang into action.
This Song of the Lamb has inspired every generation of Christians to create new songs , in every place where the Church gathers. It inspired the Te Deum, a Latin hymn familiar to many generations when Latin was the language of the Church; which in its turn inspired Holy God, beloved of English-speaking Catholics. A hymn, by definition, praises God in the manner of this song.
The end of the liturgical year is rich with hope even as the scriptures remind us of anxiety, ostracism and persecution. There's no law that says life should be easy for Christians, but how can we keep from singing?