Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow, at last, and more Magnificat

It's starting to feel like December now that we have a few snowflakes on the ground. I love the crisp air of winter and the dark nights of silence that are a black canvas for the music of this season. The stars seem to sparkle more in the winter, like candles at a Christmas eve service, and the sunshine reflects even more brightly. Our Advent season of preparation is one of contrasts, light against dark.

The Magnificat also exemplifies this contrast of the season. The news of Mary's pregnancy is joyous and startling; her hymn is one of praise and wonder. The music of these four Sundays reflects that dichotomy.

Some hymns reflect the darkness and mystery of the season. "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" epitomizes that style and sound, along with "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." The choir's anthems "Stay with Us" and "My Song in the Night" also emphasize the dark yearning and mystery of our prayers of preparation.

Last Sunday we also sang hymns from the other tradition, hymns of praise that echo the language of Palm Sunday: "All Earth is Hopeful" and "Prepare the Royal Highway," the latter of which includes the text: "God's people, see him coming: your own eternal king! Palm branches strew before him! Spread garments! Shout and sing!...Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God's word!"

One of my favorite parts of Sunday's early service was the bright sunshine streaming through the stained glass at the back of the church. It seems like 9:00 is the perfect time to enjoy the light lately and to remember that even as the days get shorter, we can savor the light we do have as we sing the great hymns of Advent.


  1. I love it in the morning when the sunshine is streaming through the Triskett Road window. Unfortunately it is a sight that usually only the choir, the organist, and I get to enjoy. Sometimes when it has been especially beautiful, I've asked the congregation to turn around and look at the window, but you can't do that every Sunday.

  2. So much of the imagery about Christmas has to do with the light. Those of us in the Northern hemisphere certainly can appreciate that, and the farther North you go the more it has an impact. As impressive to me as the morning light is the beautiful moonlight on the snow. Of course, we get more of that in North Dakota...