Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

While growing up I often heard this hymn sung during communion services. Years later, though, I heard it sung as a Christmas hymn, and I was blown away at how appropriate it was. These words, from 4th century Greek Liturgy, remind me in a powerful way of the complete and utter devotion I owe to Christ, the God-man who came to earth to rescue me from the powers of hell.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

– Li­tur­gy of St. James, 4th Cen­tu­ry; trans­lat­ed from Greek by Gerard Moultrie, 1864

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