Behold mee then, mee for him, life for life

One of the most moving art exhibits I’ve ever encountered was the Life of Christ exhibit of James Tissot’s exquisitely detailed paintings.  It came to our local museum during Lent the first year we were homeschooling.  The Daughter and I went twice, once to look at all of the paintings of Christ’s life, and a second time during Holy Week to view the galleries of paintings of Christ’s Passion.

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Cheryl Magness at The Federalist published a post about music for Holy Week, and included Samuel Barber’s achingly beautiful Adagio for Strings, which he later arranged for choir using the Agnus Dei text.  I found a version with the sheet music for those who might like to follow along.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

Behold mee then,
mee for him,
life for life 
I offer,
on mee let thine anger fall;

The Daughter and I are reading  John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  We started it midway through the term, and it’s scheduled through our next term.  In a miracle of timing, we are reading Book 3  this week, and in this portion, The Son offers himself as the redeemer for mankind:

Father, thy word is past, man shall find grace;
And shall grace not find means, that finds her way,
The speediest of thy winged messengers,
To visit all thy creatures, and to all
Comes unprevented, unimplor’d, unsought,
Happie for man, so coming; he her aide
Can never seek, once dead in sins and lost;
Attonement for himself or offering meet,
Indebted and undon, hath none to bring:

Behold mee then, mee for him, life for life
I offer, on mee let thine anger fall;
Account mee man; I for his sake will leave
Thy bosom, and this glorie next to thee
Freely put off, and for him lastly dye
Well pleas’d, on me let Death wreck all his rage;
Under his gloomie power I shall not long
Lie vanquisht; thou hast givn me to possess
Life in my self for ever, by thee I live,
Though now to Death I yield, and am his due
All that of me can die, yet that debt paid,
Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsom grave
His prey, nor suffer my unspotted Soule
For ever with corruption there to dwell;
But I shall rise Victorious, and subdue
My vanquisher, spoild of his vanted spoile;
Death his deaths wound shall then receive, and stoop
Inglorious, of his mortall sting disarm’d.

I through the ample Air in Triumph high
Shall lead Hell Captive maugre Hell, and show
The powers of darkness bound. Thou at the sight
Pleas’d, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,
While by thee rais’d I ruin all my Foes,
Death last, and with his Carcass glut the Grave:
Then with the multitude of my redeemd
Shall enter Heaven long absent, and returne,
Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud
Of anger shall remain, but peace assur’d,
And reconcilement; wrauth shall be no more
Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.

(Lines 227-265 of Book 3)

A complete list of links to the series of paintings on the Passion, from  James Tissot’s Life of Christ can be viewed at Joyful Heart: The Passion of Christ Illustrated.

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2 thoughts on “Behold mee then, mee for him, life for life

    1. I’m so glad! Yes – the authentic scenery and architecture the exquisite detail in clothing and rugs, and the expressions on the faces even in the crowd scenes. Truly inspired.

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