Dec 18 – O Adonai


Once again, our friends the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist provide a lovely background to today’s glorious antiphon:

The title “Adonai,” was originally used by the Israelites instead of pronouncing the name of God as revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Not only did God tell Moses His name, but He also gave him the Law, which paradoxically sets us free. Although our culture tells us that freedom is for doing whatever we like, our faith tells us that we have been given a free will so that we might be free to choose the good.

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

St. Catherine’s Monastery is on Mt. Sinai. It is the oldest monastery in the world, on very holy ground, and the prayers never stop. The calling, the reaching out to Adonai never stops, for all our sakes. I love this book detailing its Icons, and giving glimpses of the chapel and the life of the monks. Here is sunrise, and, perhaps my favorite in the psalter, Psalm 90:

O Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to the next.
Before the mountains were born
or the earth or the world brought forth,
you are God, without beginning or end.

You turn men back to dust
and say: “Go back, sons of men.”
To your eyes a thousand years
are like yesterday, come and gone,
no more than a watch in the night.

You sweep men away like a dream,
like the grass which springs up in the morning.
In the morning it springs up and flowers:
by evening it withers and fades.

So we are destroyed in your anger,
struck with terror in your fury.
Our guilt lies open before you;
our secrets in the light of your face.

All our days pass away in your anger.
Our life is over like a sigh.
Our span is seventy years,
or eighty for those who are strong.

And most of these are emptiness and pain.
They pass swiftly and we are gone.
Who understands the power of your anger
and fears the strength of your fury?

Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.
Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune.

Show forth your work to your servants;
let your glory shine on their children.
Let the favor of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands.
(give success to the work of our hands).

And here is the unamplified call to Vespers, for the monks on Mt. Sinai:

See also: Dec 17 – O Sapientia

Julie at Happy Catholic has more.
A charmer of a piece on commercialized Christmas from our friend, Fr. James Martin
And Deacon Greg looks at another holy mountainous place. Sort of. More on that here and here
O/T by joyful: An Anniversary

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Tempus Fugit

    I spent the night at that monastery in 1991 after having climbed Mt. Sinai, and got lost on the way down. I was late for the pasta dinner but they saved me some.

  • Fr. Steve

    These are beautiful Advent posts! Thanks for the link on the Salesian anniversary! God bless you!
    Fr. Steve

  • Stacey

    Isn’t this the Islamic call to prayer? You can clearly hear Muhammad’s name called out.

    [The closing credits say this is psalm 90. -admin]

  • Stacey

    The full phrase is – “Muhammad Rasul Allah”.

  • dick

    I have a neighbor who vacuums her lawn. After the lawn service cuts the grass and blows the stuff around she goes out and with an industrial vacuum goes over the lawn and picks up the grass cuttings. Some people truly are out of their minds. I am just glad I live on the opposite of the street and at the back of the building. I am hard of hearing and I can still hear her vacuum.

  • Ben-David

    Adon simply means “master” so
    Adonai translates as “Lord”.

    It was originally used instead of pronouncing the “Yaweh” name of G-d, which conflates the Hebrew verb forms of “is, was, will be” into one word.

    Nowadays nobody really knows how to pronounce this name.

    “Jehovah” originally came about by applying the vowels of “Adonai” to the letters of the “Yaweh” name. But it has no basis in fact – and there’s certainly no J sound in the Hebrew original.

  • Maggie45

    The text at the end of the film says:
    August 2008
    Psalm 90
    Amone Empek Kohe

    They are both apparently sung in Coptic, which is the language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

    I found them at the website of Saint Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Holmdel, NJ, through Google of course. (smile)

    You can go here and click on Agpeya at the top left and scroll down to Sixth hour and Psalm 90 is in the third column. To get to Amone Empek Kohe click on Spiritual Songs and it is in the first group, far right column. In the video Amone Empek Kohe starts at 2:17, and the voices are very different. The Monastery is Greek Orthodox so I think whoever put together the video just chose these songs at random. He most like is Coptic Orthodox.

  • Maggie45

    like should be likely.

  • JuliB

    I’ve heard the Muslim call to prayer while in Morroco, and while haunting and somewhat beautiful, it wasn’t like this at all.