The songs we sing during Advent give texture to our waiting, to our longings. We have such a rich repertoire of music for this season (though of course there are many songs I would be happy not to hear again, whether at church or in the mall).
Give me a Lessons and Carols service where we can give voice to deepest truths and profound mysteries through songs and scripture, and I am a happy girl. I would even suggest that in such a service a sermon subtracts from our ability to enter in.
The poets, the musicians, and the artists seem to be able to capture something of the beauty and the mystery of Advent that dissertations and commentaries cannot. Eugene Peterson writes that in so doing, “over and over again they rescue us from a life in which the wonder has leaked out.”
Maybe to embrace the mystery that is the incarnation, to live a life where the wonder has not leaked out, we need to spend more time with the poets, more time gazing at art, more time singing.
Such truth is captured in these lines…
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” (O Little Town of Bethlehem)
"Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn." (O Holy Night)
And the longings we express when we sing:
“O come O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lowly exile here…”
Or the simple prayer of a Taize song:
“Wait for the Lord, whose day is near, wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart!”
To sing these songs during Advent is to prepare us to be ready to sing “Joy to the World” with it’s great proclamation “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground!” on Christmas day and beyond.
Tomorrow I will post a few of my favourite Advent poems. But for today, what songs best give voice to your hopes and longings and joy this Advent? Feel free to share in the Comments.
Prayer: Mysterious God, save us from living lives where the wonder has leaked out. Thank you for the artists, the poets, the musicians who invite us to see and experience your beauty and grace in new ways. Amen.