Much brighter than a thousand suns – a Transfiguration hymn

I have always thought that the gospel accounts that point to the identity of Jesus as Christ, God’s anointed person, God with us, lay down three markers. As Jesus comes with the crowds of people to the River Jordan, to identify with them in Baptism by John, he is saying by his action that he is son of a man, human like us. In unison with this the writers gospel record God’s words, this is my Son, my beloved. Finally, Resurrection and Ascension confirm all that has gone before. Midway in the whole narrative of Jesus life, between these other events, is placed an account of the Transfiguration. Jesus has gone up a mountain with some of his disciples. Matthew 17: 2 says, ‘he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white’. This hymn starts at this point:

1	Much brighter than a thousand suns, 
	the source of life, eternal grace; 
	light of the cosmos and this world 
	now shining from a saviour's face.
	Upon the mountain's towering height
	they saw transfiguration's light.
2	This man, this Jesus, they had known, 
	who called them once by Galilee, 
	now stood upon the mountaintop, 
	he seemed exalted, shining, free. 
	Disciples caught in stark surprise 
	had shielded dazzled, blinded eyes.
3	Free of the bonds of human life 
	and distanced by some greater power, 
	a strange yet mystic harmony 
	joined earth and heaven in this hour.
	It seemed that God was very near,
	inspiring awe, dispelling fear.
4	The height of love, the depth of grace,
	the dazzling birth of something new,
	a supernova magnified, 
	a stunning, startling, shining view, 
	for God affirmed Christ's human worth
	illuminating all the earth. 

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd
Metre: 8 8 8 8 8 8

An old hymn, that many may know: ‘Stay, Master, stay upon this heavenly hill’, concludes the event, for the story goes on and after this height of exaltation as we return to what was normal. A message for us all perhaps…

	No, saith the Lord, the hour is past, we go;
	Our home, our life, our duties lie below.
	While here we kneel upon the mount of prayer,
	The plough lies waiting in the furrow there.
	Here we sought God that we might know his will;
	There we must do it, serve him, seek him still.
                                        (Samuel Greg, 1804-1876)