The Canticle Of The Turning

Canticle of the Turning

Melody: Star of the County Down
Lyrics: Rory Cooney

My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great;
and my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that You bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed Your sight on Your servant’s plight
and my weakness You did not spurn;
so from east to west shall my name be blessed…
Could the world be about to turn?

My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of Your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near
and the world is about to turn.

Though I am small, my God, my All,
You work great things in me:
and Your mercy will last from the depths of the past
To the end of the age to be.
Your very Name puts the proud to shame
and to those who would for You yearn
You will show Your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of Your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near
and the world is about to turn.

From the halls of power to the fortress tower
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware, for Your justice tears
Every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more
For the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, every mouth be fed
For the world is about to turn.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of Your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near
and the world is about to turn.

Though the nations rage from age to age
We remember Who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This Saving Word that our forebears heard
is the promise which holds us bound;
‘Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God
Who is turning the world around.

My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of Your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near
and the world is about to turn.

“Canticle of the Turning” remains my favorite hymn, years after I first heard it. It is an old Irish hymn that I first remember finding as a Catholic teenager in the youth choir. Something intrigued me about the song. Nobody could tell me what it was about. I didn’t know the Bible real well and only knew shades of the times we were living in. Even back then I knew it was the Last Days. I didn’t really understand what that meant and was far more afraid of it than I am now, but I still knew something was different about this age than had been before. When I finally realized “Canticle of the Turning” was actually Mary’s song spoken in Luke 1:46-55, I noted how prophetic it was. Mary wasn’t just talking about herself, as the Catholic Church had told us: she was also speaking prophecy. Mary’s prophetic words heralded a day that was not in her day, but was to come. As the Word literally dwelt within her, she saw something to come; a vision of the times before He would come again, not as a baby, but for those who would be waiting for Him (Hebrews 9:28). A dawn was to come; a paradigm was shifting; and Mary was a part of that prophecy. She was the first in her day and age to see the turning that began with Christ’s birth and the turning that would continue down the ages, right down to the final turning. When I blurted out during choir rehearsal, “I figured out what this song is about! It’s about the Second Coming!” the youth leader and associate parish priest looked at me and responded uncomfortably, agreeing, but I am not sure if he saw the correlation himself.

We are living in the Last Days, the time when our song should be as Mary’s was all those years ago: a canticle of the turning. We should know the times in which we live and recognize the signs. Even though Christians have different perspectives surrounding the peripheral doctrine of the days, the majority of us know something is going on. Our world is literally turning itself upside down, inside out, and back out again, only to turn in another direction. Last night at 11:50 PM I received a text from a pastor in New Zealand asking me to come online so he could talk to me about something. This was a little unusual, and got even more unusual when a spiritual daughter and friend immediately asked me how he was the second I logged in to my messenger. She was not typically up this late so I knew something had happened. “Did you hear what happened?” they both asked me. I hadn’t. I learned there was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, a few hours from where this pastor resides, and the city was, this time, totaled. People died and buildings that had stood for hundreds of years as signposts to culture and religion were toppled in a matter of seconds. This was the second major earthquake to hit this city in the past five months, not to mention the fact that they never stopped having aftershocks, and now continue to have such from this major disaster. Then we have the four people killed by Somalian pirates, the never-ending parade of disruption and disorder in the Middle East, Wal-Mart’s tanking reign as the top retailer worldwide, the vast wars, genocides, political conspiracies, alliances, evils, and the like all should be turning ourselves to understanding the Word and the times in which we are living.

As I sat on the internet and heard about what was happening, the only thing that ran through my head was the song, The Canticle of the Turning. Jesus is coming soon. I know what I mean when I say “soon,” but in my revelation of His coming, I don’t know what that means in God’s timing. I know that history must unfold and complete a certain course before He will return. I do not know the date of that coming, and truth be told, I don’t really care when it is. You’ve probably all heard me say at one point in time or another, “Jesus is coming when He gets here.” I stand behind this statement implicitly.

Those who know me and know my ministry know I don’t teach a whole lot on the specific doctrines surrounding the Last Days because too much controversy surrounds them. It is my belief that if the Word is not clear enough on the details of everything that will happen, we should not attempt to fill-in-the-blanks with doctrines that sound good and “seem to fit.” What I do teach on the Last Days is understanding of the specific prophecies and how they fit with our day and age. I don’t plug in headlines or try to align politics with prophecies. What I do is try to give people a better understanding of the times. We need to know how to get through these days for as long as we are here and they continue. It’s great to talk about what happens beyond, and I do believe that has an important aspect to understanding prophecy, but I also believe every day believers are faced with the challenge of living right now.

Every day we encounter the turning of the world. We encounter people who lie to our face about nothing, the horrors and torments of daily society, abuse and mistreatment, broken relationships, broken people, lives destroyed by drug abuse, perversion, and sin, and the reality that we often can’t do much about it. We can show people the way and we can teach them the ways of God, but people don’t change before they are ready. We can’t make other people’s choices for them. Then naturally we move to the state of the church and recognize the church is often not much better than the world. Church people drug themselves behind the scenes and dope themselves up on medical prescriptions to help regulate their moods, live with disordered relationships, and sometimes don’t honor God or believe in Him any more deeply than the world does. As the gap narrows and information infiltrates the lives of people who don’t want to hear it, the church turns away, rather than toward, God.

Maybe we need to go back and look at Mary a little more closely, and at her song. She was chosen to receive this prophecy of turning because her life would be hard. We think it was a sweet, wonderful Christmas card photo to be the mother of the Savior – and you know what – we don’t have a clue. To everyone around her, she was an unwed, pregnant teenager. Virgin birth? A big “yeah, right, get real!” to everyone around her. We don’t hear of her parents, who probably were prepared to disown her. Even Joseph was ready to cast her out because he just automatically assumed she’d been with another man. It took a prophetic dream for Joseph to get with the program. Even then, I wonder. He accepted the situation and took Mary as his wife, but Jesus was never going to be his biological child. She had to deal with the fact that the child she birthed, raised, and loved was always different and would eventually be taken from her. Later in the Bible, we can tell from certain language used that she was most likely a widow, in a culture that did not look favorably upon women who could no longer bear children and were without a husband. She was there when her son died…and also there when He rose. The New Testament indicates she was a part of the early church. She lived long enough to watch the current turning come forth and still knew of more to come. Her life was not easy. Mary birthed something that seemed ordinary in the natural but was really supernatural. She walked that fine line between the ordinary and the miraculous. Did she say “yes” to God? Of course she did – but that “yes” came at a high price to her as a person. Regardless, her “yes” remained as “yes” because she gave her Word to the Most High, and trusted Him more than she trusted in men.

In these days, our lives are not easy. Many of us attempt to walk Mary’s fine line between the ordinary and the miraculous, only to find difficulties everywhere we turn. We find difficulty with others and difficulty in our ministries. We face financial issues, stress, disappointment, and loneliness. Others don’t always understand and don’t always accept, even with divine revelation that what is being birthed through us is of God. People look down upon us and criticize the decisions we have to make as part of the Kingdom. It is a part of the times in which we live. Our “yes” to God, however, cannot turn as the world does. It cannot be “yes” and then “no” and then “yes” and then “no” again. We must be people who have a deep understanding of the power in ordinary living, having the insight needed to walk through the daily spiritual battles that await Kingdom people in these times. As human beings, we want things to be easy. We want God to pave the golden path down through the ages and we forget the Saints of every age have dealt with trials and tribulations, and weren’t always easily delivered from them. They understood the price to be paid for walking that line between the ordinary and the miraculous as they watched the world turn, turn, and turn again down to the present day where our song should be of His saving Word, our promise heard, and the day that is coming as the world is about to turn yet again.

The ancients understood time to operate in cycles rather than in a linear sense of history. In keeping with this, the concept of times “turning” is highly prophetic, and highly powerful. In the beginning, there was God, there was man, and there was order. In the end, there will be God, there will be man, and there will be order. On the path to get there, there is a turning; many turnings, many changes, and many tumults. As we stand, knowing what is to come, may we all stand as Mary did and know we are blessed of God, despite what is going on, despite our worst circumstances, our biggest fears, and our greatest trials, and yet keenly aware of what is to come. Mary knew who she was in God, and she also knew who God was; and may our greatest cry be, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is His Name.” (Luke 1:46-49, NIV)

(C) 2011 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

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