April 2021



 

As a boy growing up in a musical home (pre telly!) I listened to recordings of the Glasgow Orpheus choir and I particularly recall “All in the April Evening”, conductor Sir Hugh Roberton’s setting of a poem by the Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hinkinson (1861-1931). Later I sang it and played in in various arrangements:

All in the April evening

April airs are abroad

The sheep with their little lambs

Passed me by on the road

All in the April evening

I thought on the lamb of god

 

The lambs were weary and crying

With a weak human cry

I thought on the lamb of god

Going meekly to die

 

Up in the blue blue mountains

Dewy pastures are sweet

Rest for the little bodies

Rest for the little feet

 

But for the lamb, the Lamb of god

Up on the hilltop green

Only a cross, a cross of shame

Two stark crosses between

 

All in the April evening

April airs were abroad

I saw the sheep with the lambs

And thought on the Lamb of God

 

Back in February I challenged T S Eliot’s opinion that “April is the cruellest month” and I stick with that. Tynan too had a different view, rather more gentle and pastoral, but with a sting in the tail.

 

Thanks to the vagaries of the 2021 calendar as April comes, we have ended Lent, but as we begin to move on from the lambing season, we can watch the lambs in the fields growing yet still dependent on their mothers for guidance, protection and safety. The lambs in the fields are a reminder that God’s Creation is at its best and most beautiful when it is nurtured in unconditional love.

 

Easter confronts us with one of the ironies or paradoxes of our faith, in which the Good Shepherd becomes the Lamb of God. Think of the times our liturgy refers to the image, we speak of Christ as the Lamb of God in the Gloria, “Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world”; The Book of Common Prayer refers to Christ at Passiontide, Holy Week and Easter Week as “the true passover Lamb”; and in the Agnus Dei, when we declare: “Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sins of the world . Happy are those who are called to his supper.”

 

The Lamb of God is the title given to Christ at his Baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist: declaring: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1: 29), and exclaiming: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (John 1: 36).

 

In Acts 8: 32-33, the Apostle Philip explains Isaiah’s passage about the Suffering Servant to the Ethiopian courtier: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

 

That Lamb was slain in order that we may enter more deeply into the Mystery of Christ’s saving act of Redemption, and we still meet him in the Eucharist, in the Word proclaimed, and in service to one another and to the world.

 

Perhaps as we get out and about more (??) in an April evening we will see lambs; and we too will think on the Lamb of God.

 

Colin Dixon




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