You have had such patience with this practice, knowing that the hymns, sung in order starting in early October, would create some odd seasonal juxtapositions. You’ve read about summer songs in winter, evening songs in morning, happy songs in the darkness following the election. But nothing has prepared us for what’s coming now. Not even a smattering of Hanukkah songs have prepared us for the onslaught that is our Advent and Christmas section.
For the next 34 days (35 if you count our Epiphany song), we will be singing our way from Advent through Christmas. Every single one of them. The ones we love and the ones we hate. The ones we never sang as kids so we never sing as adults. The ones we wish we had known before now. The ones that get stuck in our heads – which will elicit odd glances at the Memorial Day picnic.
Are you ready? Here we go.
Of course we start with Advent, with this delicate lyric by Unitarian minister John Hanly Morgan. It is a sweet invitation, gentle as the falling snow, inviting serenity and love.
Let Christmas come, its story told,
when days are short and winds are cold;
let Christmas come, its lovely song
when evening’s soon and night is long.
Let Christmas come, its great star glow,
on quiet city, parks of snow;
let Christmas come, its table gleam,
love born again: the truth of dream.
And its setting is perfect: this Ralph Vaughan Williams tune ends in anticipation, without resolving its final chord. It holds open musically the thoughts Morgan’s lyrics hold – that something beautiful, gentle, and meaningful is coming, so wait for it….
This is a perfect match of music and poetry, one complementing the other.
And while the other Advent songs in our hymnal are more familiar and more explicit, this is, for me, the perfect song for the season.