Here’s another holy day that we noted ahead of time: “The Parents of Saint Mary.” Tradition remembers them by the names of Joachim and Anne, and Anne in particular has been the recipient of some devotion in certain parts of Europe – to this day it’s not unusual to find a Catholic church named St. Anne’s.
Because the couple celebrated on this day are closely related to Jesus (in this case literally his grandparents) this is one of the few “black-letter days” appointed in the 2019 Prayer Book’s calendar that this Customary acknowledges with a hymn appointed for the day. In this case it’s #188 (in the 2017 hymnal), “Faith of our fathers“, a well-known classic. As the title itself suggests, it is a celebration of the continuity of faith from the past through the present into the future. It is in the All Saints section of this hymnal, though in other sections in previous hymnals, if I recall.
If you’re curious, even skeptical, why this commemoration should be so elevated when the people commemorated are barely (or not at all) known in Scripture, consider the implications of their identity. As I wrote for my 4-year-old today:
Jesus had a grandma
they say her name was Anne.
So although Christ is God,
he’s also fully man!
I also took the opportunity to include this commemoration in a sermon a few years ago, which you’re welcome to check out. In that sermon I mentioned a hymn that we’d sung. It was a traditional hymn that someone translated from Latin, and I re-tuned to the melody of a contemporary praise song: “Lamb of God” by Twila Paris.
Nocti succedit Lucifer, trans. c. 2009 Kathleen Pluth.
The morning star is on the rise
And soon the dawn will fill the skies,
Foretelling of the coming Sun
Whose light will shine on everyone.
The Sun of justice, Christ, true Light,
And Mary, grace’s dawning bright,
And Anna, reddening the sky,
Have caused the night of Law to fly.
O mother Anna, fruitful root,
From you came your salvation’s shoot,
For you brought forth the flow’ring rod
That bore for us the Christ of God.
Christ’s mother’s mother, by the grace
Your daughter’s birth brought to our race,
And by her merits and her prayer
May we her favors come to share.
O Jesus, Virgin-born, to You
All glory is forever due.
To Father and the Spirit, praise
Be sung through everlasting days.
Note in verse 3 (the first refrain the way this is arranged) how Anne (Anna) is addressed: “faithful root, flowering rod” – these are some biblical images in the Old Testament used to point to the Messiah. The family tree leading to Jesus is often described in root-tree-branch-flower imagery, and is especially appropriate for St. Anne and the Virgin Mary.
However you choose to spruce up your worship of God today, may it be a blessed time!