John Speller's Web Pages Ascension

John Speller's Web Pages - Church Music

Ascension
Notwithstanding the presence of the doctrine of the Ascension in most Christian credal statements, the Feast of the Ascension has been sadly neglected in many churches for the last several hundred years. Many churches today have no religious celebration at all on Ascension Day, and if the festival is kept at all it is often kept on the Sunday following Ascension. For the last thousand years Anselm's doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement has been the dominant Atonement theology of the Western Church, and is still strong today, especially among Fundamentalist Christians. Yet the emphasis of Substitutionary Atonement theology up the Cross, leaves the Ascension in a much less central position than it was in the Early Church when the Atonement was seen primarily as a victory over the forces of darkness. Within this theology of the Atonement, as is very apparent in the Gospel of John, the triumph of Christ on the cross, the Resurrection and the exaltation of Christ in the Ascension are all integral parts of the same process. It is to be hoped therefore that, as the Substitutionary Theory is increasingly rejected by mainstream Christians the Ascension will once more come into its own.

The artist, architect and stained-glass designer John La Farge (1835-1910) produced a number of works based on Raphael's painting "The Transfiguration." One such is the east window for Christ Episcopal Church in in St. Joseph, Missouri. When, however, he came to produce an Ascension scene Ascension, as in the east window for Christ Episcopal Church in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the Ascension mural in the apse of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in New York City, he rather curiously modified the same design. It makes a pretty good Transfiguration as well as Ascension. Perhaps there is a theological lesson to be learnt from this ...

A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols for Ascensiontide

Hymns, Anthems and Carols for Ascensiontide:

A hymn of glory let us sing (St. Bede)
After three days thou didst rise
Carol we joyfully (Clarke/Brown)
Come, let us join our songs of praise
Exalt, exalt, the heavenly gates
Forty days on earth he spent (Stainer)
God is gone up (Clarke/Brown)
God is gone up (Ganthony)
God is gone up (Hopkins)
God is gone up (Mann)
Golden harps are sounding (Sullivan)
Hail the day that saw him rise
Hosannah to the Prince of light
Hymnum canamus gloriae
Jesus comes, our conquering King (Handel/Hutchins)
Laudate Dominum Omnes Gentes
Lift up, ye everlasting doors (E. L Hopkins)
Lift up your heads, O ye gates (Anonymous/Hutchins)
Lift up your heads, eternal gates (Lowry)
Lift up your Heads (Turner)
O for a shout of sacred joy (Clark)
O God, the King of glory (Key)
O Rex Gloriae (Webbe)
Our Lord is risen from the dead (Arnold)
Rise, glorious Conqueror, rise (Bridges/Giardini)
The golden gates are lifted up
To God, with heart and cheerful voice (Wither/Gibbons)
Triumphe! Plaundant Maria

"The Transfiguration" by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669). Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
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