Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent 2012



             "What sweeter music can we sing than a carol?" asks Robert Herrick (1591-1674), in his poem "A Christmas Carol, Sung to the King in the Presence at Whitehall."  The full first stanza reads:


What sweeter music can we bring,

Than a carol, for to sing

The birth of this our heavenly King?

Awake the voice!  Awake the string!

Heart, ear, and eye, and everything.


As the Adult Choir has prepared John Rutter's lovely setting of these words to sing as the prologue to this year's Service of Lessons and Carols, I can't help but presume that we all share this sentiment.  What could be lovelier than a carol celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus?  We used to ask our homebound members, when we would go caroling, "Do you have a favorite carol you would like for us to sing?"  The answer was always the same:  "I love them all."

Perhaps you are able to name a favorite, but my guess is that all the traditional carols we sing in church are on your list.  On my own list of favorites would have to be the ones that not only recount the Nativity story, but that call upon us to do something in response.  Later in "What Sweeter Music" come these words:


The Darling of the world is come,

And fit it is we find a room

To welcome him.  The nobler part

Of all the house here, is the heart.


Amid all the preparations we make during this season of the year, do we take time to focus on finding room for the one whose birth we celebrate?  In the cleaning and decorating of our homes, do we "find a room" to welcome the Christ child?  And is the "room" we find truly the best in the house?  Another poem by Robert Herrick, "Christ's Part," says it this way:


Christ, he requires still, wheresoe'er he comes

To feed or lodge, to have the best of rooms:

Give him the choice; grant him the nobler part

Of all the house:  the best of all's the heart.


- James Richardson


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