An Advent Hymn

As we near the end of Advent and face the present darkness of the world – especially in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the prayer expressed in this song becomes ever more urgent to my heart. We do not merely remember the first coming of our Savior in its unexpected humility; we also long for his return, when all things will be made new.

candlelight

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny.
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Singing together

There’s nothing quite like singing together in the worship of God and for his glory.

I’m up late trying to make progress on a paper about the use of narrative as an analytical tool in a piece that is trying its best to avoid being a narrative (Kurtag’s Kafka Fragments, for anyone who is interested), and as much as I like to write, and as much as I think music is one of the greatest topics to write about, and as interesting as this topic is to me as one of my research areas for my future diss, all I can think about is how great it is to sing together.

My church put together a Christmas choral program this year…this was the first time we’ve done something like this since I’ve been there.  We were able to sing a variety of beautiful numbers: Chesnokov’s Salvation is Created (in English, and a slightly simpler version than the one linked here) to Mendelssohn’s “He Watching Over Israel” (from Elijah) to In the First Light to the great Hallelujah chorus, among others.  The program also featured hymns and a narration that tied the pieces together in the story of the good news of great joy – that Christ has come to earth, not just as a baby, but as the Lord God, to redeem not only his people, but ultimately the whole of creation.

Even though I already knew everyone in the choir, the time we spent in rehearsals brought us together in a different way – we saw each other’s foibles as we each tried to offer advice, and we trusted each other with our weaknesses as we each faced challenges of various kinds, not the least of which was the sickness that plagued all of us.  On the night of the concert, our singing with the congregation that joined us brought us together in rejoicing in a way that is difficult to describe but is wonderful to behold and experience.  Somehow, singing together pulls us together in a fellowship of the heart that surpasses words – as terribly important as words are – and creates a bond that adds a significant dimension to the whole experience of fellowship as a body of believers.

Have you ever simply gathered with your friends around a piano or guitar to sing hymns or songs of praise to the Lord?  In this Advent season, in the midst of the insanity that is finals for those of us who are students, or in the midst of preparations for the busy-ness of the Christmas season, take the time to sing with those you love, to sing together to the Savior whose first coming we celebrate and whose second coming we eagerly await.