Monday, December 7, 2009
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.