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First Week of Advent

Drop down, ye heavens, from above,
and let the skies pour down righteousness.

Be not wroth very sore, O Lord,
neither remember iniquity for ever:
thy holy city is a wilderness,
Sion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation:
our holy and our beautiful house,
where our fathers praised thee.

This is the first section (verse, stanza, whatever the right word is) of the Latin hymn Rorate caeli in the old Anglican translation known as "The Advent Prose." There are four sections, each preceded by "Drop down...." Here's a setting of the whole thing, composed by Richard Lloyd. The text is a little different, adding "let the earth open and bring forth a Savior" to the refrain.



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First thing I thought of when reading this was the innocence mission's song "Sweep Down Early," but that's about Easter. Which is not completely inapposite, I guess.

Hmm, I hadn't even noticed that "Sweep Down Early" was about Easter. Hazard of listening in the car. The Rorate hymn is from Isaiah 45. I wouldn't be surprised if that passage is used similarly in Orthodoxy.

It doesn't ring a bell for me liturgically speaking. I'll have to pay closer attention in the upcoming Nativity services to see if it pops up.

Had a look at the lyrics of "Sweep Down Early." I never realized it before, but the song is actually addressed to "Tomorrow," as a figure of the beginning of Spring. I remembered the mention of Easter, but it's only loosely an Easter song, I guess. Lovely nevertheless.

According to the Wikipedia entry for the Rorate hymn and the custom of the Rorate Mass, it seems to have come into really widespread use post-schism. So maybe it isn't in Orthodox liturgies, or at least not prominently.


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