Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Easter Lamb




Lamb has been an integral part of the Easter feast. In many homes, a lamb-shaped cake decorates the table. Chocolate lambs are not uncommon and are often given to children in their Easter baskets. Roast lamb has been the main feature of the Pope's Easter dinner for many centuries. After the tenth century, in place of the whole lamb, smaller pieces of meat were used. In some Benedictine monasteries, however, even today whole lambs are still blessed with the ancient prayers.



 This panel from the Baptismal font in the Abbey on Iona shows Christ as the lamb of God


The ancient tradition of the Pasch lamb inspired among the Christians the use of lamb meat as a popular food at Easter time. Nowadays, however, little figures of a lamb made of butter, pastry, or sugar have been substituted for the meat, forming Easter table centerpieces.  We sometimes eat lamb at Easter in our household but we do not eat a young lamb we celebrate with a roasted leg of lamb or hogget. Hogget is the meat from the ovine that is one to two years old. It has a more intense flavour than lamb, low to medium in internal and external fat. It requires longer cooking times than lamb and is more suited to roasting, stewing and braising. A little closer to Easter Sunday I will post some recipes for leg of lamb on this blog.





At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing


At the Lamb’s high feast we sing,
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his piercèd side;
Praise we Him, whose love divine
Gives His sacred blood for wine,
Gives His body for the feast,
Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest.

Where the Paschal blood is poured,
Death’s dark angel sheathes his sword;
Israel’s hosts triumphant go
Through the wave that drowns the foe.
Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed,
Paschal Victim, paschal Bread;
With sincerity and love
Eat we Manna from above.

Mighty Victim from the sky,
Hell’s fierce powers beneath Thee lie;
Thou hast conquered in the fight,
Thou hast brought us life and light;
Now no more can death appall,
Now no more the grave enthrall;
Thou hast opened Paradise,
And in Thee Thy saints shall rise.

Paschal triumph, Easter joy,
Only sin can this destroy;
From sin’s death do Thou set free
Souls reborn, O Lord, in Thee.
Hymns of glory and of praise,
Father, to Thee we raise;
Risen Lord, all praise to Thee,
Ever with the Spirit be.

Unknown author, probably 6th Century (Ad regias Agni dapes); translated from Latin to English by Robert Campbell, 1849

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