Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Title: Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Artist: Frank Mason

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 360 x 317 cm

Date: 1973

Location: Private collection.

Luke 2:8-15 reports that there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

Joy comes with an angelic proclamation of good news (euangelizomai). The message is for all the people. Though in the original context such a messianic announcement would have been understood as being for the people of Israel, the development of Jesus' ministry shows that Jesus' work reaches beyond such national boundaries. As with other incidents in the infancy material, the angel describes a sign: the shepherds will know this announcement is true when they see the child in a manger. The angelic announcement does not come in mystical isolation; it connects to concrete events.

Frank Herbert Mason (February 20, 1921- June 16, 2009) was an American painter and teacher born in Cleveland, Ohio. Mason’s classical paintings - his portraits, still-lives and landscapes - have earned him scores of international awards and honors. He was commissioned to paint the portraits of princes, cardinals and governors, and was a member of the Royal Society of Arts, the National Academy of Design and President Emeritus of The National Society of Mural Painters. His monumental “Resurrection of Christ” hangs in New York’s Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A collection of his religious paintings has recently been published in book form, also entitled “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”.

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