Thursday, December 9, 2010

Humming Along

It’s about time I turned to Advent – we’re already a week and a half into it. Luckily for me, Advent is not a one-day holiday, but a season, a time of anticipation and preparation.  Also a time of realizing that it really is too late to plant the daffodil bulbs.  This year it seems to be a season of excessive talk about Likiweaks.

Last night at dinner, Youngest Daughter asked, “Is there a song that goes, It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas?"  Her Dad replied by singing, “Toys in every store” and I replied by grousing, “Yeah, even the bookstore has been taken over by toys.”  Our daughter decided that was her cue to sing those two lines over and over, forgetting the Common Household ban on singing at the dinner table.

That song talks about preparation of a sort.  The fact is that it began to a lot like Christmas in the stores in about mid-October.  Please, let’s not rush things.  This week I have running through my head a song about a different sort of preparation.

Verse 1
People, look east. The time is near 
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

I like this Advent hymn because it is grounded in reality (but loaded with metaphor too). Other Advent hymns are more monumental (Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, y’all) which is wonderful, too, but this one takes place right here in my house and back yard.  I guess that’s the point of Advent and Christmas.  It’s like our preacher two weeks ago pointed out: Advent is about preparing for the in-breaking of God’s kingdom on earth.

The first verse starts with a GPS instruction and a calendar reference. “People, look east. The time is near for the crowning of the year”.  I don’t use a GPS, but the calendar rules my life, so this puts me on familiar ground.   Next comes a Martha Stewart admonition, but with mercy built in.  Martha would say, “Make your house fair,” but the poet, wisely not expecting me to live up to Martha’s heavenly standards, adds “as you are able.”  I don’t know about trimming the hearth, but I have been trying to trim certain areas by going to Jazzercize more often in these few weeks before the next festive feast.   The kids usually set the table, so we’re on top of that one.

The other verses (below) are more nature-y: furrows, birds, stars. And wintry – bare earth, frozen wings, frosty weather.  We’ve got that covered too, at the moment.  Last Friday the marching band nearly froze at the football game.  We’ve already got 4 inches of snow on the ground, and it’s only December 9th.  But in the midst of all this cold and bleak stuff, there is hope.  Love is on the way.  I hope so, because what the world needs now is love, sweet love.

At the end of each verse this hymn helps us toward the right attitude about all these preparations – Sing!  You’ve got a guest coming!  Love is the guest!

I must remember that it doesn’t say,
“Shop!  The guest is on the way!”
  “Vacuum! The guest is on the way!”*
“Eat! The guest is on the way!”
It’s good to do all those things in preparation for a guest, but even better if it is possible to sing at the same time.

So whether you are observing Advent, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Football Season, or Garbage Day, how about a song to go with it?  Go ahead – set every peak and valley humming, because...


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas; 
Soon the bells will start, 
And the thing that will make them ring
Is the carol that you sing 
Right within your heart.

*Good thing, because the vacuum cleaner is broken.

People, Look East
by Eleanor Farjeon

1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

One more light the bowl shall brim

Shining beyond the frosty weather

2 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You remind me that I have to get my HEART ready for Christmas!

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

Ah yes, I remember that Look East song from Hiland. I like it. And I remember how, as per tradition, we never sang a single "Christmas" song until after Christmas, between the 25th and Epiphany. I assumed it was a Presbyterian thing. But no, at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Charles, we're already singing all kinds of Christmas songs.