The first Sunday of August lifts us out of the lengthy progression of Sundays on the Season of Pentecost. It is celebrated as the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. According to the Liturgical Calendar, the guide to celebrations and feast days in the Church Year, August 6 is always the Feast of the Transfiguration. Since it celebrates an event in the life of Our Lord, the day takes precedence over the Sunday falling on that date. Thus, the Major Propers (the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle and Gospel) relate to the Transfiguration. The hymns also follow the theme of the Transfiguration.
You may well ask, “Didn’t we celebrate the Transfiguration on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany?” Yes, we did. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer included it at the end of the Epiphany Season, at the time when the three Sundays of Pre-Lent (Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima) were removed from the calendar. One may conjecture that the prevailing thought was that we did not need three Sundays to prepare to be penitent.
Another logical question regards the nature of the 5:00 PM Liturgy on Saturday, August 5. It will be celebrated as a Vigil of the Feast of the Transfiguration. In parishes where the Eucharist is celebrated daily the Episcopal Ordo Calendar lists Albrecht Durer, Matthias Grunewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder (Artists of the Church) for remembrance at the morning celebration. However, late afternoon and evening celebrations anticipate or “keep vigil” for the day to come.
The Hymn of the Month for August is To the Name of Our Salvation, No. 248 in The Hymnal 1982. The compilers of the hymnal assigned it to The Feast of the Holy Name, January 1, but a reading of the text will show that is appropriate to be sung at any nearly time and is eminently suitable for contemplation in private devotion. The text come from a 15th century Latin hymn and was translated by James Mason Neale.
The text appears below:
1 To the Name of our salvation
laud and honor let us pay,
which for many a generation
hid in God’s foreknowledge lay,
but with holy exultation
we may sing aloud today.
2 Jesus is the Name we treasure,
name beyond what words can tell;
name of gladness, name of pleasure,
ear and heart delighting well;
name of sweetness passing measure,
saving us from sin and hell.
3 ‘Tis the Name that whoso preacheth
speaks like music to the ear;
who in prayer this Name beseecheth
sweetest comfort findeth near;
who its perfect wisdom reacheth
heavenly joy possesseth here.
4 Therefore we in love adoring
this most blessed Name revere,
holy Jesus, thee imploring
so to write it in us here,
that hereafter heavenward soaring
we may sing with angels there.
The majestic music for this hymn is the tune Oriel composed by Caspar Ett (1788 – 1847). At age nine, Ett became a chorister in a Benedictine abbey, then went to the Elector’s School in Munich. In 1816, he was appointed organist at St. Michael’s Church in Munich, where he remained until his death. He composed several musical settings for the words of the Holy Eucharist along with a variety of hymns and other sacred music.