05 September 2008

Commemoration of Zacharias and Elizabeth

Today our Synod commemorates the parents of St. John the Baptist. From the Synod website:

Zacharias and Elizabeth were “righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord” (Lk 1:6). Zechariah, a priest in the Jerusalem temple, was greeted by the angel Gabriel who announced that Zechariah and Elizabeth would become parents of a son. Initially Zechariah did not believe Gabriel's announcement because of their old age. For his disbelieve, Zechariah became unable to speak. After their son was born, Elizabeth named her son John. Zechariah confirmed his wife's choice and his ability to speak was restored. In response, he sang the Benedictus, a magnificent summary of God's promises in the Old Testament and a prediction of John's work as forerunner to Jesus (Lk. 1:68–79). Zechariah and Elizabeth are remembered as examples of faithfulness and piety.

Sing praise to the God of Israel!
Sing praise for His visitation!
Redeeming His people from their sin,
Accomplishing their salvation,
Upraising a mighty horn within
The house of His servant David.

A bright, rising Sun now shine on us
In need of illumination;
Come, scatter the shades of sin and death
And shatter their domination.
Be guiding our footsteps on the path
Of peace, in Your presence dawning! LSB 936


Brian P Westgate said...

I wonder why the Church didn't have a commemoration for them in the past. My guess is that they were considered commemorated from June 23 (Vigil of the Nativity of St. John) through July 2 (Visitation of the BVM). Zechariah is commemorated when Benedictus is sung at Lauds, and I suppose Elizabeth when Magnificat is sung at Vespers.
The same question could be posed concerning Simeon, though in the same way you can say he is commemorated whenever Nunc Dimittis is sung at Compline and at God's Service, and especially on the Sunday after Christmas and the Feast of the Presentation.

William Weedon said...

Among the Eastern Christians, September 5 is the day that St. Zachary is commemorated; I suspect that we just borrowed from them on that. It is one of the most wonderful things, though, about the way we hold the liturgy: it is a living and growing thing and so we're not merely into creating a museum piece of the past, but the joy that Dr. Nagel described in his famous intro to Lutheran Worship: "We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who went before and, in making that tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day - the living heritage and something new." I think the expanded sanctoral calendar in LSB fits well with that - though in many ways it is much smaller than the sanctoral calendar that we USED to use (see the Lex Orandi website!). This is bigger by far than what we've had in the recent past, and peppering the Biblical figures with the post-apostolic ones just heightens that sense of being surrounded by such a crowd of witnesses.

William Weedon said...

Oh, and should add, obviously not all that is new is gold - some may well be wood, hay, and stubble! But the cool thing is how the Church's LIVING with the liturgy has a way of weeding that out, and carrying forward the truly precious.

Rev. James Leistico said...

It's your fault, William, that I start giggling when I think of this couple.

"Blessed is ***SHE*** who has believed that what the Lord has said to ***HER*** will be accomplished!" - says Elizabeth loud enough for her husband to hear.
(btw, speaking of husbands in disbelief over pregnancy anouncements, the doc today says our twins look like they are probably identical. Laura's blaming the Tilt-a-whirl carnival ride she rode in June.)

Brian P Westgate said...

I admit I know next to nothing about saints days in the East. Certainly a good addition. Another one (definitely related) might be the Conception of St. John the Baptist (Sept. 23).

Brian P Westgate said...

Found this note on Elizabeth from the Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.com - Her feast is celebrated on 8 September by the Greeks, and 5 November in the Latin Church.

St. Elizabeth's feast in the West must have been instituted post-Reformation, and suppressed pre- 1940s, because it's not in the Sarum Missal, nor in the St. Andrew's Daily Missal. Unfortunate indeed.

Both Sept. 5 and Nov. 5 are mentioned at Wikipedia for Elizabeth. Wikipedia states that Rome now commemorates both together on Sept. 23 (I suppose because it is the day of St. John's Conception). That must be a post-Vatican II feast.

I wonder if there is a definitive history of when certain feasts were instituted, repressed, restored, and what the liturgy was for such feasts that have been suppressed.