December 17 Advent 3 Meditation: Singing and sighing

Service of Lessons and Carols Meditation

December 17, 2017

o-antiphons 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh [sighing].

O come.

O come, o come, Emanuel.

 

Sing with me:

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

tntil the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

 

Emanuel means God with us.

 

This carol, like many, brings Advent longing in Advent praying in Advent singing.

 

Singing and sighing are very close.

 

Carols are poetry and song joined together, coming through air to the hearer’s ear and from the reverberation of the body in the singer provide an acoustical presence, a lively, living utterance.

 

A presenter at a conference could not emphasize enough the ways singing punctuate our living even when are decried and denied.  When teenage girls told him that they do not sing, they have no use for singing, he countered “what do you mean you don’t sing?  I hear you saying to one another, girrrrl–you are in trouble with your mother! And you tell me you don’t sing!”

 

Ralph Vaughn Williams, the 20th century British composer who unearthed countless songs from oral folk tradition said that singing is instilled from birth in children.  They call out to their parents in minor thirds: “Mooommmy.”  Daaaadddy”

 

I can’t tell today where the readings end and the singing begins.  I can’t tell today when the singing ends and the praying begins.

 

Advent longing, Advent praying, Advent promising in this Service of Lessons and Carols permeates the whole shebang:

 

  • Arise, shine; for your light has come
  • The wolf shall lie down with the lamb
  • Speak tenderly to Jerusalem
  • He will feed his flock like a shepherd
  • They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations.
  • The mighty will be put down from their thrones, and the lowly will be lifted up.
  • God has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors.
  • By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us.

 

I can eat these words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and twice on Sundays.

 

Oh [sighing].

 

In the rhythm of the church’s Adventing the O Antiphons are set to be the heartbeat of the week before Christmas.

 

They were refrains that were prayers that were songs that punctuated the praying of the psalms daily in the early monastic communities, and became the stanzas of the premiere Advent carol we have been singing as O Come, O Come Emanuel, one stanza for each day leading to Christmas beginning on December 17.

 

Poetry and song, praying, sighing, and hoping are joined together, bringing kaleidoscope-like images of the divine:

 

  • Emmanuel
  • Wisdom from on High
  • Lord of Might
  • Branch of Jesse
  • Key of David
  • Dayspring
  • King of Nations

 

With God’s ancient people, God’s people today are speaking, singing, and sounding God’s ways and God’s voice, declaring God’s self against the travesties of injustice, against the misdeeds of the powerful, against a dying and hating and despairing world.

 

We await a new dawn.  We look for Christ.  We announce Advent’s near.

 

Oh.

O Come.

O Come, O Come, Emanuel.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

tntil the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

God is with us.

 

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