The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle has a wonderful baritone voice. He is also a holy man. When he chants “Lift up your hearts!”, and the faithful respond with “We lift them up to the Lord”, the soaring space of the Cathedral is temporarily transformed into the very throne room of God. And he knows that.
The faithful join the choirs before the throne while the Dean chants in his magnificent voice: “And with angels and arch-angels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious Name, evermore praising You and singing”. The church choir then intones the Sanctus: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory“. At that moment invariably ‘woe is me’. This is the mission of the Church, to bring the world into the presence of it’s Creator.
The Jewish mystic Abraham Joshua Heschel writes that glory is the presence of God. The whole earth is full of His presence. We cannot conceptually comprehend this, it is “an aura that lies about all being, a spiritual setting of reality. It is as if all things stood with their backs to us, their faces turned to God”.
“We have no words to describe the glory; we have no adequate way of knowing it. Yet what is decisive is not our knowing it but our awareness of being known by it”.
The Dutch word for glory is ‘heerlijkheid’, in German it is ‘Herrlichkeit’. ‘Heer’ and ‘Herr’ mean ‘Lord’. These words for glory describe things as being mirrors, reflecting vestiges of the Presence.
When I die, there will be no slab of stone with my epitaph on it. The childbride plans to reduce my dust to ashes, and keep me in a nice vase on the mantlepiece. Perhaps she will keep a card with it: “He sought to photograph the Glory”. And a link to this site.