Thursday, November 24, 2005

Advent is coming

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent.

Our family always celebrates Advent for the whole four weeks before much so that, when the Apprentice was a toddler, a well-meaning grownup asked her sometime in December if she wasn't happy that Christmas was here, and she corrected him: "It's not Cwistmas yet, it's still Advent."

We have our own set of traditions, some of which are shared by many Christians, such as lighting Advent candles on a wreath. We're not too particular about the colours of the candles...some years we've used all red candles, some years we've used three purple and one year Mama Squirrel got it backwards so we had three pink and a purple.

We also try to use some blue decorations (like table mats), early in the month, instead of Christmas red and green. When we used to go to a Lutheran church, the girls always looked forward to the seasonal changes in the church; when Advent came, there were blue hangings on the pulpit and the pastor wore a blue stole. I've never been quite sure then why we don't use blue candles on the wreath; I suppose we could! But other than the candles, we try to think blue for awhile. Gradually we bring out some of the more Christmasy decorations. (The nativity scene comes out fairly early...we've inherited two sets in addition to a small one we already had, so we decide whether this will be the year of great-grandma's dime-store set from the 1940's, or the other grandma's REALLY BIG set that takes up the whole top of our buffet. I think it's the REALLY BIG set's turn this year.)

And we have songs that lead up to Christmas. We don't jump right in with Silent Night on the first night of Advent. We sing some of the old Advent hymns like Hark the Glad Sound (we sing it to the Richmond tune) and O Come O Come Emmanuel. And we sing some songs from a book called Gold, Incense and Myrrh: Contemporary Christmas Carols, by Sister Miriam Therese Winter of the Medical Mission Sisters. The copyright date on the book is 1972, so I don't know if it's still available anywhere. [Update: I found out that the author has a webpage here and you can buy CDs of her music.]

I hope the Mission Sisters wouldn't mind if I posted the words to one of their songs. We've sung these around the Advent wreath for several years and I think our Squirrelings consider them as much a part of the holidays as the more familiar carols and hymns. I'm sorry that I can't provide the tune as well...just imagine something played on a guitar rather than a hymn meant for a pipe organ.


Now the emptiness of ages proclaims the promised birth.
Hope to help unhappy hearts.
Love to light the earth.
And He shall be called Wonderful!
He shall be called Peace.
For to us a Son has been given,
to us the Lord is born.
He will govern with justice and joy, consoling those who mourn,
And He shall be called Comforter,
He shall be called Peace.

Streams will wash away the desert as He goes passing by
Those in need will turn to Him
He will hear their cry.
And He shall be called Wonderful!
He shall be called Peace.
He will lead His flock like a shepherd and call us each by name.
He will walk in the favor of God,
and we shall do the same.
And He shall be called Comforter,
He shall be called Peace.

(Copyright 1971 by Medical Mission Sisters from the collection "19 Scripture Songs." All Rights Reserved.)


Peggy said...

love reading about your family traditions!

Carol said...

I didn't know she had a Christmas CD also. Thanks for leaving the link on my blog!

Christina Vander Pol said...

I grew up singing these songs for Advent and Christmas. Now each year they return to my head and heart - I wish I could hear them again! Thanks for sharing the songbook link