The season of Advent is a complex time in the church year. Perhaps most often, the first thing on our minds is the anticipation of Jesus’ birth at Christmas, but at the same time, the church is looking all the way ahead to his crucifixion, resurrection, and second coming. The multifaceted nature of this liturgical season is reflected in the diversity of poetic texts that exist for it, a handful of which will be featured at our Lessons and Carols service on 12/8. The choir will sing John Gardner’s vibrant, modern setting of the medieval English text, “Tomorrow shall be my dancing day,” which tells the story of Jesus’ life from before his birth all the way to his baptism. The story itself is not unfamiliar, but this particular version is told from a first-person point of view, as if Jesus himself were speaking. Jesus metaphorically describes the day of his incarnation as his “dancing day,” and humankind as his “true love.”
On the other hand, there are Advent texts which more heavily emphasize Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. One classic example of such a text is the hymn “Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,” which we will all sing together at Lessons and Carols. The second verse is especially crucifixion-centric with the words “those who set at nought and sold him, pierced, and nailed him to the tree, deeply wailing, shall the true Messiah see.” Though this hymn, when seen as a whole, is one of praise and adoration for Christ’s suffering on our behalf, the bright, uplifting character of the tune tends to hide the element of sacrifice that is, in fact, quite important to the story of his life. I hope that the accompaniment and descant we will use for this hymn, alongside all the other beautiful music at this year’s Lessons and Carols, will help you reflect on the varying aspects of this season.
Please check out the 2019–2020 Concert Series program. Next up in the series is SongFest!, a special Saturday matinée in the Parish Hall on 1/18 at 3:00 pm.
Subscriptions for the entire series of five performances are just $50.