Praying with Isaiah

In the four weeks of Advent the Prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary of Nazareth are messengers from God.  Isaiah, the first voice we hear, brings a message of hope.

Isaiah was a priest in the temple of Jerusalem in the eighth century, the worst of times, when the powerful armies of Assyria were ravaging the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

God came to him in a vision in the temple’s Holy of Holies (Isaiah 6) and Isaiah was overwhelmed by a Presence more powerful than mighty armies and their clever leaders. God is “Emmanuel,” “God with us.” no matter how bad the times.

This was Isaiah’s message then, and it’s his message for us today.

“I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’” (Is: 6:8)

Isaiah’s prophecies pervade Advent time. They may seem unreal to us, as they must have seemed unreal to those who saw Assyrian armies wasting their land.  All nations streaming toward the mountain of the Lord’s house, laying down arms of war?  All peoples, nations and races living in harmony and peace?

Today, the prophet’s promise may still seem an impossible dream in our splintered world,  But Advent revives our hope, not just a personal hope for ourselves and those dear to us, but hope for the whole world. The peaceable kingdom, seemingly impossible, is not impossible for God.

God is with us. Emmanuel.

7 thoughts on “Praying with Isaiah

  1. Susan Baker

    Fr Victor, Just a reminder that a group of us will be in the library during the Advent breakfast Sun (Dec 4th) making Jesse Tree ornaments and talking about this Advent tradition. We encourage any families who are interested in learning about The Jesse Tree and coloring the ornaments to please join us after (or before) enjoying your pancake breakfast.

    Susan Baker
    (along with Joan Celiano, Lisa Colaco, and Karen Wilk)


  2. Tom Carter

    The readings for this 2nd Sunday in Advent have been favorites of composers and song-writers down through centuries

    We hear of John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that “a voice calls out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord!”. At the 10:30 Mass this Sunday, St Mary’s Magnificat choir will sing a setting — a recent, Baroque-sounding composition.

    Here is a recording of the piece

    and then a clip of the setting from the from the musical film God-spell:

    The text from Isaiah goes on to claim that “Every valleys shall be filled in, and every hill made low”, set to music by Bob Dufford, will be our “sending forth” song this coming Sunday

    Of course, Handel was no hack. His setting of the beginning of this prophetic text, from his oratorio “Messiah” (Wikipedia entry here ) Here is John Humphrey, tenor, with Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony:

    Finally, Isaiah uses the image of the shepherd to describe the coming Messiah, “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock, and gathers the lambs in his arms” — calling to mind Psalm 23, and many other passages from Scripture. Here this is, set to a serene melody. This one we will sing as our Communion processional on Sunday

    For you Handel fans, here is his setting from ‘Messiah’ in a video created using some beautiful artwork to maybe deepen your reflection on the powerful words of Isaiah:


  3. vhoagland Post author

    Thanks for the great music sources for the 2nd Sunday, Tom. Great what you can get from Youtube.


  4. Gail Smyder

    Tom, so many thanks for the gift of music you shared and all the you tube selections. Music is so renewing, uplifting and spirit creating. I love the music of the St. Louis Jesuits and Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven. they all are meditations. Way to go.



  5. Tom Carter

    thank you, Father and thank you, Gail. “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)” really hits home for me when I hear the reading of the Annunciation story and Mary’s response (the Magnificat). It’s easy to assume some kind of super-human power of faith on her part, but this song really expresses her willingness to depend on God DESPITE her many questions. My favorite video of this is here:

    and for those who aren’t already fortunate enough to know it, here are the really beautiful lyrics:

    I have traveled many moonless nights
    Cold and weary, with a babe inside
    And I wonder what I’ve done
    Holy Father, you have come
    And chosen me now
    To carry your son

    I am waiting in a silent prayer
    I am frightened by the load I bear
    In a world as cold as stone,
    Must I walk this path alone?
    Be with me now
    Be with me now

    Breath of heaven, hold me together
    Be forever near me, breath of heaven
    Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness
    Pour over me your holiness
    For you are holy

    Do you wonder as you watch my face
    If a wiser one one should have had my place
    But I offer all I am
    For the mercy of your plan
    Help me be strong
    Help me be
    Help me

    Breath of heaven, hold me together
    Be forever near me, breath of heaven
    Breath of heaven, lighten my darkness
    Pour over me your holiness
    For you are holy


  6. Gail Smyder

    Tom, again thanks. The lyrics are beautiful and the song is haunting for me. Our printer is not working, but our parish secretary will help me out here. All this technology blows my mind. I am hopelessly old fashioned, but I know I have to keep up, so your sharing all these goodies is awesome. Many blessings for the Advent days ahead. Keep sharing. Prayers and JOY. How rich we are in blessing each other.


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