Today we celebrate the occasion (recorded in M 17:1-8 = P 9:2-8 = L 9:28-36) on which Christ, as He was beginning to teach His disciples that He must die and rise again, revealed Himself in shining splendor to Peter, James, and John. Moses and Elijah were present, and are taken to signify that the Law and the Prophets testify that Jesus is the promised Messiah. God the Father also proclaimed him as such, saying, "This is my Beloved Son. Listen to him." For a moment the veil is drawn aside, and men still on earth are permitted a glimpse of the heavenly reality, the glory of the Eternal Triune God.
In the East, the Festival of the Transfiguration has been celebrated since the late fourth century, and is one of the twelve great festivals of the East Orthodox calendar. In the West it was observed after the ninth century by some monastic orders, and in 1457 Pope Callistus III ordered its general observance. At the time of the Reformation, it was still felt in some countries to be a "recent innovation," and so was not immediately taken over into most Reformation calendars, but is now found on most calendars that have been revised in the twentieth century. A recent tendency in the West is to commemorate the Transfiguration on the Sunday just before Lent, in accordance with the pattern found in the Synoptics, where Jesus is represented as beginning to speak of his forthcoming death just about the time of the Transfiguration, so that it forms a fitting transition between the Epiphany season, in which Christ makes himself known, and the Lenten season, in which he prepares the disciples for what lies ahead. Whether observing the Transfiguration then will affect the observation of it on 6 August remains to be seen.
O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses Thy well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your Well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever ane ever.
First Reading: Exodus 34:29-35 (When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, after speaking with the Lord, the skin of his face was so radiant that the Israelites were afraid to look at him. Therefore, he wore a veil.)
Psalm 99 or 99:5-9 (The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble.... Moses and Aaron and Samuel cried unto him, and he spoke to them from the pillar of cloud.)
Epistle: 2 Peter 1:13-21 (Peter, near the end of his life, for his own strengthening and that of his readers, recalls his long-ago experience of seeing the Transfigured Christ.)
The Holy Gospel: Luke 9:28-36 (Jesus took Peter and James and John up a mountain, and there appeared to them in shining splendor, and with Him appeared Moses and Elijah, who spoke with Him.)
Christ upon the mountain peak G -G e d | c G A B stands alone in glory blazing; cd e d g | c BA B G let us, if we dare to speak, A -A f e | d A B d with the saints and angels praise him. e B c e | a gf ef g Alleluia! fe dc d -c | c - - -
Trembling at his feet, we saw
Moses and Elijah speaking.
All the prophets and the Law
shout through them their joyful greeting.
Swift the cloud of glory came,
God proclaiming in its thunder
Jesus as his Son by name!
Nations cry aloud in wonder!
This is God's beloved Son!
Law and prophets fade before him;
first and last and only One,
let creation now adore him!
Words: Brian A. Wren (b 1936)
Music: Mousley, Cyril Vincent Taylor (b 1907)
Copyright: Hope Publishing Company