It is the 21st of September 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1795.
The French were in the throes of their revolution. The year 1795 saw them implement the aptly named Constitution of 1795. However, like many revolutionaries, they implemented their own calendar. Thus, for them, it was the constitution of the year III. It's an interesting document and approach to balancing republican and democratic impulses. The new government was comprised of two legislative houses that selected a five-person executive branch known as the Directory. This new constitution permitted freedom of worship but had rather draconian laws to curb the press and the right to assemble.
And those French had been assembling, marching, and protesting for years. And in 1795, they established a protest/fight song as their national anthem. The song, a hastily written call to battle, was initially popular with a group of soldiers marching from Marseillaise to Paris. The new national anthem, known as "La Marseillaise," would be banned later as too revolutionary when Napoleon came to power. The lyrics, like many "national anthems," are surprisingly aggressive and militaristic, but the melody makes it perhaps the finest of all the national anthems. Honorable mentions go to the national anthems of both Uruguay and Finland.
In 1795 the older confessional battles were still raging in Ireland. The Protestant militia was known as the "Peep o' Day Boys," and the Catholics called the "Defenders" would often scuffle. As part of the larger Catholic/protestant battles that had raged for centuries, and would continue to rage for centuries, the two confessional gangs met in County Armagh in a protestant section of town known as "the diamond." The Peep o' Day Boys were victorious, and they would become local heroes and as defenders of the Protestant faith. It was in the context of these confessional battles, and on this day in 1795 that the Irish political society (by and for Protestants) known as the Orange Order was born. If you know anything about the years of religious strife in Ireland, you likely know that this Order, and especially this color, has a history all its own.
Irish Protestants would take the color orange to designate their confessional allegiance after a 17th century battle between the deposed Catholic monarch James II and the new English king, William, from the Dutch house of Orange-Nassau. The protestant king who came to power during the glorious revolution would become a symbol of anti-Catholicism, and the color associated with his name would also symbolize protestant rule.
The "Orange Order" resembles more of a Freemason lodge than a Christian organization. The denominational squabbling is less important than a general Irish identity. Today the Order has a presence in yearly Orange parades. The color orange, the Order, and the annual parades have been controversial. The Protestant element of the Order has given way to a primarily political stance, but that doesn't stop the group from playing up its protestant past. They even have a mascot, a fellow named Diamond Dan. Yup, Diamond, as in the place where the Peep o' Boys and Defenders clashed on this day in 1795, leading to the founding. Also on this day, the 21st, of the Order of the Orange.
The reading for today comes an Irish poet, Katherine Tynan.
Adveniat Regnum Tuum by Katharine Tynan
Thy kingdom come! Yea, bid it come!
But when Thy kingdom first began
On earth, Thy kingdom was a home,
A child, a woman, and a man.
The child was in the midst thereof,
O, blessed Jesus, holiest One!
The centre and the fount of love
Mary and Joseph's little Son.
Wherever on the earth shall be
A child, a woman, and a man,
Imaging that sweet trinity
Wherewith Thy kingdom first began,
Establish there Thy kingdom! Yea,
And o'er that trinity of love
Send down, as in Thy appointed day,
The brooding spirit of Thy Dove!
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 21st of September 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie, who informed me that when he worked in retail, he served the dude who wrote "Eye of the Tiger," apropos of an earlier show. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. Remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.