“Stay with us,” begged the disciples who walked with Jesus to Emmaus on Easter Sunday. “So,” Luke tells, “he went in to stay with them,” (Luke 24:13-15). The homely scene with the three travelers sitting down to eat their evening meal together was transformed moments later when the disciples recognized Jesus. In these verses from the Odes of Solomon, the earliest known Christian songs and poetry, we can imagine the poet reflecting on this moment:
In full measure
He revealed Himself to me
In His simplicity
For His kindness made his greatness small.
He became like me
That I might grasp Him.
He appeared like me in form
That I might put Him on.
I had no fear when I saw Him
Because He had mercy on me.
He became like my own nature
That I might comprehend Him.
His form was the same as mine
That I might not turn back from Him.
Therefore singers shall sing the grace of the Most High
And shall bring their songs before Him.
Their hearts shall be as bright as day
And their voices as beautiful as the Lord!
Nothing that lives shall be without knowledge or dumb,
For He gave a mouth to His creation,
A voice and mouth to open before Him
And to praise Him.
–Odes of Solomon 6
Because it wasn’t possible to choose between them, this week brings you two settings of the Emmaus prayer. Albert Thate’s 1935 setting is in canon form. As the words recur and overlay each other we can imagine the disciples’ repeated entreaty: “Stay with us.”
This recording is by the A-cappella-Gesang des Wilhelmshavener Vokalensembles on the Chrismon label’s collection of songs and prayers for evening, Der Mond ist Aufgegangen.
Rheinberger’s a capella setting of the same words is a tranquil evening hymn, sung here by the Cambridge Singers:
Herr, bleibe bei uns
Denn es wird Abend werden
Und der Tag hat sich geneiget.
Lord, abide with us
For it is nearly evening
And the day is almost over.