Today is the feast day on which the Church celebrates the birth of Our Blessed Lady, the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Lord and Saviour, the God-bearer, the Theotokos, she through whom Jesus entered into the world and began the work of our salvation. The Anglican Church venerates her as do the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and here, from my own tradition, is a hymn by that wonderful pastor and poet, John Keble:
Ave Maria! blessed Maid!
Lily of Eden’s fragrant shade!
Who can express the love
that nurtured thee, so pure and sweet,
making thy heart a shelter meet
for Jesus’ holy Dove!
Ave Maria! Mother blest,
to whom, caressing and caressed,
clings the eternal Child;
favored beyond Archangels’ dream,
when first on thee with tendered gleam
thy new-born Saviour smiled.
Thou wept’st meek Maiden, Mother mild.,
thou wept’st upon thy sinless Child,
thy very heart was riven:
and yet, what mourning matron here
would deem thy sorrows bought too dear
by all on this side heaven!
A Son that never did amiss,
that never shamed his Mother’s kiss,
nor crossed her fondest prayer:
e’en from the Tree he deigned to bow
for her his agonized brow,
her, his sole earthly care.
Ave Maria! thou whose name
all but adoring love may claim,
yet may we reach thy shrine;
for he, thy Son and Saviour, vows
to crown all lowly lofty brows
with love and joy like thine.
John Keble (1792-1866)
English Hymnal 216