This day is based on Isaiah 11, which foretells that a new ancestor of David will rule over Israel: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”
In the paraphrase from the hymnal:
O come, thou branch of Jesse’s tree, free them from Satan’s tyranny
And give them victory o’er the grave.
In the more literal translation:
O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all people;
Rulers stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.
Well, we might very well wish that “rulers” would indeed “stand silent” before God, rather than the incessant using of God by the powers that are. And we might reflect on how this incessant attempt to control God actually keeps God from coming to our aid, thwarts the will of God. My apologies for the political overtone, but it’s right there in the text as a big ole softball ready to be slugged out of the park.
It might well do us good also to reflect on the notion of God “saving” us, of “salvation.” “Aid” is a helpful synonym. “Healing” is as well. It isn’t all about sin, although, of course, it is to a certain extent, and needs to be. But it is good to know that the English word “salvation” shares the same root as the word “salve,” something we apply to a wound to soothe and heal. This reminds me of that inscription over the library in ancient Alexandria (I think I’m remembering that right), “A Healing Place for Souls,” that Two Saints has adopted as part of its Vision.
All this puts a different spin on that old American Evangelical question, “Are you saved?” If you feel that in any way God has “come to your aid,” “soothed,” or “healed” you (contributed to your wholeness), than the answer is a confident, “yes.” And, if you’re up for it, a bit of education can be done on the broader, biblical understanding of that word “saved.”
O flower of Jesse, Let nothing keep God from coming to our aid.