Home > Church Year, Feasts, Festivals, Sermons, etc. > The Fourth Sunday in Advent: Rain Down, O Heavens! (Rorate Coeli)

The Fourth Sunday in Advent: Rain Down, O Heavens! (Rorate Coeli)

December 23rd, 2012
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Isenheim mirror

Detail from Matthias Grünwald’s Eisenheim Altar Painting. Inverted for purpose of display here.

“Rain down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness…” Is. 45:8

John the Baptizer Points Everyone to the Messiah
The coming of God in all His unveiled power at Mount Sinai was terrifying to the people of Israel. The thundering voice of the Lord puts sinners in fear of death (Deut. 18:15–19). God, therefore, raised up a prophet like Moses–the Messiah, the Christ. God came to His people veiled in human flesh. The skies poured down the Righteous One from heaven; the earth opened her womb and brought forth Salvation (Introit) through the blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of the Lord (Luke 1:39–56). The fruit of her womb is the very Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the One whose sandal strap John was not worthy to loose (John 1:19–28). In Jesus we are delivered from fear and anxiety. In Him alone we have the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:4–7).

Introit: Ps. 19:1, 4-6; antiphon Is. 45:8
Deuteronomy 18:15–19
Psalm: Ps. 111 (antiphon v. 9)
Gradual: Ps. 145:18, 21
Philippians 4:4–7
Verse: Ps. 40:17b
John 1:19–28 or Luke 1:39–56

From Luther’s sermon for this Sunday:

“When the first teaching, that of the Law, and baptism are over and man, humiliated by the knowledge of himself, is forced to despair of himself and his powers; then begins the second part of John’s teaching, in which he directs the people from himself to Christ and says: “Behold the Lamb of God that takes upon itself the sin of the world.” By this he means to say: “First I have, by my teaching, made you all sinners, have condemned your works and told you to despair of yourselves. But in order that you may not also despair of God, behold, I will show you how to get rid of your sins and obtain salvation. Not that you can strip off your sins or make yourselves pious through your works; another man is needed for this; nor can I do it, I can point him out, however. It is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He, he, and no one else either in heaven or on earth takes our sins upon himself. You yourself could not pay for the very smallest of sins. He alone must take upon himself not alone your sins, but the sins of the world, and not some sins, but all the sins of the world, be they great or small, many or few.” This then is preaching and, hearing the pure Gospel, and recognizing the finger of John, who points out to you Christ, the Lamb of God. Now, if you are able to believe that this voice of John speaks the truth, and if you are able to follow his finger and recognize the Lamb of God carrying your sin, then you have gained the victory, then you are a Christian, a master of sin, death, hell, and all things. Then your conscience will rejoice and become heartily fond of this gentle Lamb of God. Then will you love, praise, and give thanks to our heavenly Father for this infinite wealth of his mercy, preached by John and given in Christ. And finally you will become cheerful and willing to do his divine will, as best you can, with all your strength. For what lovelier and more comforting message can be heard than that our sins are not ours any more, that they no more lie on us, but on the Lamb of God. How can sin condemn such an innocent Lamb? Lying on him, it must be vanquished and made to be nothing, and likewise death and hell, being the reward of sin, must be vanquished also. Behold what God our Father has given us in Christ!”

Bach for Advent IV: Cantata 132

Event: Solo Cantata for the 4th Sunday in Advent
Epistle: Philippians 4: 4-7; Gospel: John 1: 19-28
Salomo Franck (Mvts. 1-5); Elisabeth Kreuziger (Mvt. 6)
Chorale Text:
Herr Christ, der einge Gottessohn

Christ’s members, ah, consider,
what the Savior has bestowed on you
through the pure bath of baptism!
Through the spring of blood and water
your garments will become bright,
which are stained from sin.
Christ gave as new garments
crimson robes, white silk,
these are the status of the Christian.

Here is the Soprano Aria from Cantata 132, text before video:

Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!
Prepare the ways, prepare the path!
Bereitet die Wege
Prepare the ways
Und machet die Stege
and make the footpaths
Im Glauben und Leben
in faith and in life
Dem Höchsten ganz eben,
smooth before the Highest.
Messias kömmt an!
The Messiah is coming!

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  1. Ben Baldus
    December 18th, 2011 at 22:40 | #1

    I appreciate your publishing of J.S. Bach’s cantatas on a regular basis. Each of the 250+ works in this genre give expression to the Gospel. Think of the rigors of writing, copying parts and rehearsing such works on a weekly basis.

    Blessings for Advent and a joyous Christmas.

    Ben Baldus+

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