READINGS AND HYMNS FOR ASCENSION SUNDAY (A)
People of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?
Opening Hymn: Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! (HYFRYDOL) G3-949
- Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! His the scepter, his the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph, his the victory alone.
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood:
“Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by his blood.”
- Alleluia! Not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us; faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received him when the forty days were o’er,
Shall our hearts forget his promise: “I am with you ever more.”
- Alleluia! Bread of angels, here on earth our food, our stay!
Alleluia! Here the sinful flee to you from day to day.
Intercessor, friend of sinners, earth’s redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.
- Alleluia! King eternal, you the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! Born of Mary, earth your footstool, heaven your throne.
You within the veil have entered, robed in flesh, our great high priest;
Here on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
The opening antiphon of today’s liturgy, repeated in the first reading, contains something of a reproach to the disciples, who are depicted standing looking up to heaven: “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” It is a reproach because the theme of today’s liturgy is not that we nostalgically regret Jesus’ departure from earth, and look to heaven to heal all our ills by some miracle, but that we busy ourselves with Jesus’ commission to be about the business of witnessing to him “to the ends of the earth.” God has turned the running of the world over to us. Jesus is still here, within us, through the power of his Spirit, whom we will celebrate next Sunday in a big way, and who enables us to bring the presence of Christ to whomever we meet in the world. That is really what witnessing means: not talking about Christ so much as living as he lived, thereby bringing his presence to others.
Responsorial Psalm 47:2-3, 6-9: God Mounts His Throne (Marty Haugen) G3-50
Refrain: God mounts his throne to shouts of joy, O sing your praises to the Lord! Repeat.
- All you peoples, clap your hands, shout to God in gladness,
The Lord we must fear, king of all the earth. Refrain.
- God goes up to shouts of joy; sound the trumpet blast.
Sing praise to our God, praise unto our king! Refrain.
- God is king of all the earth, sing with all your skill
To the king of all nations, God enthroned on high! Refrain.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
The psalm refrain and the second reading both exalt Jesus, present now at God’s right hand, which means he shares in the power and glory of God, particularly as head of his body, the church – all of us. He is our Lord, and from him we receive the gift of his Spirit, imparting to us wisdom, knowledge, hope, and power to do Christ’s work in the world.
Gospel Acclamation: Go and teach all nations, says the Lord; I am with you always, until the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
The gospel repeats this liturgy’s theme that we “go and make disciples of all the nations.” In our presentation hymn we offer ourselves to Christ, that he come live in us to enable us to be his presence in the world. Our final two hymns also remind us of our commission to do Christ’s work in the world.
Presentation Hymn: Take, O Take Me as I Am (John Bell) G3-795
Take, O take me as I am; summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart and live in me.
Communion Hymn: Halleluya! We Sing Your Praises (South African / Utryck, Walton Music) G3-626
Refrain: Halleluya! We sing your praises, all our hearts are filled with gladness. Repeat.
- Christ the Lord to us said: I am wine, I am bread.
I am wine, I am bread, give to all who thirst and hunger. Refrain.
- Now he sends us all out, strong in faith, free of doubt.
Strong in faith, free of doubt, to proclaim the joyful Gospel. Refrain.
Recessional: Go to the World (SINE NOMINE/ Vaughn Williams) G3-546
- Go to the world! Go into all the earth. Go preach the cross where Christ renews life’s worth,
Baptizing as the sign of our rebirth. Alleluia! Alleluia!
- Go to the world! Go into every place. Go, live the Word of God’s redeeming grace.
Go seek God’s presence in each time and place. Alleluia! Alleluia!
- Go to the world! Go, struggle, bless and pray. The nights of tears give way to joyous day.
As servant Church, you follow Christ’s own way. Alleluia! Alleluia!
- Go to the world! Go as the ones I send, for I am with you till the age shall end,
When all the hosts of glory cry “Amen.” Alleluia! Alleluia!
I leave you with a lovely early fourteenth-century fresco by Giotto depicting the feast we celebrate today (see next page).
GIOTTO di Bondone, Christ’s Ascension, Fresco (1304-06), Scrovegni Chapel, Padua