L’isle Joyeuse

Further up, Further In!

Claude Debussy wrote L’isle Joyeuse as an expression of great joy. Though he didn’t know our Lord, his work is still in His service. I find this music to be a near perfect expression of the joy we will experience when the promise of the garden finds its final fulfillment.

C. S. Lewis, in his great commentary on the Book of Revelations, The Last Battle, Book 7 of the Chronicles of Narnia, describes the reaction of the children, now adults, kings and queens each, and all of the talking beasts as they have entered the door between the two worlds, the old Narnia and the new Narnia. They had just witnessed the end and destruction of the old Narnia and begin to notice their new world.

Aslan, the golden lion, commands them to go Further up, Further in! And in a breath he is flying to the west.

Then they all went forward together, always westward, for that seemed to be the direction Aslan had meant when he cried out “Further up and further in.” Many other creatures were slowly moving the same way, but that grassy country was very wide and there was no crowding.

It still seemed to be early and the morning freshness was in the air. They kept on stopping to look round and to look behind them, partly because it was so beautiful but partly also because there was something about it which they could not understand.

“Peter,” said Lucy, “where is this, do you suppose?”

“I don’t know,” said the High King. “It reminds me of somewhere but I can’t give it a name. Could it be somewhere we once stayed for a holiday when we were very, very small?”

“It would have to have been a jolly good holiday,” said Eustace. “I bet there isn’t a country like this anywhere in our world. Look at the colours? You couldn’t get a blue like the blue on those mountains in our world.”

“Is it not Aslan’s country?” said Tirian.

“Not like Aslan’s country on top of that mountain beyond the eastern end of the world,” said Jill. “I’ve been there.”

“If you ask me,” said Edmund, “Its like somewhere in the Narnian world. Look at those mountains ahead—and the big ice-mountains beyond them. Surely they’re rather like the mountains we used to see from Narnia, the ones up Westward beyond the Waterfall?”

“Yes, so they are,” said Peter. “Only these are bigger.”

“I don’t think those ones are so very like anything in Narnia,” said Lucy. “But look there.” She pointed south ward to their left, and everyone stopped and turned to look. “Those hills,” said Lucy, “the nice woody ones and the blue ones behind—aren’t they very like the southern border of Narnia?”

“Like!” cried Edmund after a moment’s silence. “Why they’re exactly like. Look, there’s Mount Pire with his forked head, and there’s the pass into Archenland and everything!”

“And yet they’re not like,” said Lucy. “They’re different. They have more colours on them and they look further away than I remembered and they’re more … more … oh, I don’t know….”

“More like the real thing,” said the Lord Digory softly.

Suddenly Farsight the Eagle spread his wings, soared thirty or forty feet up into the air, circled round and then alighted on the ground.

“Kings and Queens,” he cried, “we have all been blind. We are only beginning to see where we are. From up there I have seen it all—Ettinsmuir, Beaversdam, the Great River, and Cair Paravel still shining on the edge of the Eastern Sea. Narnia is not dead. This is Narnia.”

“But how can it be?” said Peter. “For Aslan told us older ones that we should never return to Narnia, and here we are.”

“Yes,” said Eustace. “And we saw it all destroyed and the sun put out.”

“And it’s all so different,” said Lucy.

“The Eagle is right,” said the Lord Digory. “Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. It had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia, which has always been here and always will be here. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream.”

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed and then cried:

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Come further up, come further in!”

He shook his mane and sprang forward into a great gallop—a Unicorn’s gallop which, in our world, would have carried him out of sight in a few moments. But now a most strange thing happened. Everyone else began to run, and they found, to their astonishment, that they could keep up with him: not only the Dogs and the humans but even fat little Puzzle and short-legged Poggin the Dwarf. The air flew in their faces as if they were driving fast in a car without a windscreen. The country flew past as if they were seeing it from the windows of an express train. Faster and faster they raced, but no one got hot or tired or out of breath.

Eustace presently shouted: ”I say! Steady! Look what we’re coming to!”

And well he might. For now they saw before them Caldron Pool and beyond the Pool, the high unclimbable cliffs and, pouring down the cliffs, thousands of tons of water every second, flashing like diamonds in some places and dark, glassy green in others, the Great Waterfall; and already the thunder of it was in their ears.

“Don’t stop! Further up and further in,” called Farsight, tilting his flight a little upwards.

“It’s all very well for him,” said Eustace, but Jewel also cried out:

“Don’t stop. Further up and further in! Take it in your stride.”

“This is absolutely crazy,” said Eustace to Edmund.

“I know. And yet——” said Edmund.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” said Lucy. “Have you noticed one can’t feel afraid, even if one wants to? Try it.”

A long valley opened ahead and great snow-mountains, now much nearer, stood up against the sky.

“Further up and further in,” cried Jewel and instantly they were off again.

We do not gather to celebrate a birth, but what that birth represents, the God who told Adam and Eve, “I got this” has written yet another chapter in the story of our redemption. It has also been promised that this world will pass away and He has prepared a more glorious home for us. One which is beyond comparison to this one. One where you can run without growing weary and mount up on Eagle’s wings. Where sorrow and tears and fear are gone forever. A place of peace and rest… and great, unending joy.

Here are my completed Hymnals:

Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook: http://amzn.to/2zSRdpL

Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DEOl1H 

Broadman 1940 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2C1WuwK

Lutheran 1941 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2zUmYi2

Methodist 1939 Hymnal:  http://amzn.to/2CfJ1Wq

Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DDvbJC

Here are my new projects:

Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945 http://amzn.to/2Dx97nA

Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin:  http://amzn.to/2DQ6gUy

J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales  http://amzn.to/2DSy5f9

References:

Dictionary of Hymnology:  http://amzn.to/2BxPabk

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