The three days of reflection on the angels where a great blessing to everyone who took part and we are very grateful to Fr Ailbe O’Reilly for leading us to a greater love and appreciation of the presence of the angels in our Christian life. I was thinking of him this evening during “Songs of Praise” when we heard a most beautiful rendition of the hymn “Let all mortal flesh keep silence”. It is a hymn about the worship of the angels before the throne of God in heaven. It also speaks of the mystery of the Incarnation, “king of kings yet born of Mary”. Remember, Fr Ailbe told us that this was the truth that Lucifer and the fallen angels would not accept. This is why they “fell from heaven”. They would not serve God made man. They refused to worship Christ and serve a God (the second person of the Trinity) who was made of flesh, given the fact that they were pure spirit and more intelligent than anything in the material universe. A sin of pure pride.
Consequently, the mystery of the Eucharist must also be totally abhorrent to the fallen angels given the fact that Christ gives himself in the most humble way imaginable, the simple form of bread and wine which is “our heavenly food”. God present in human flesh was hard enough for them to take but to accept the real presence of the God man in the Eucharist must have been right off the scale. Anyway, the hymn is about the good angels who worship Christ and also worship his presence in the Holy Eucharist.
I discovered today that the words of this hymn are taken from the Liturgy of the Eastern Church. They are from the 4th century “Liturgy of St James” which claims to be the oldest liturgy in continuous use in the history of the Church. So, here is an English version by the Catholic artist, Robert Kochis: