Sacred Music Friday: O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright

I usually avoid performances recorded with handheld cameras here on Sacred Music Friday, but the harmony is lovely, so I hope you’ll put up with the somewhat shaky video.

Advent 2015

Advent began on Sunday. It is a bit early this year. Christmas falls on a Friday, so we were still in November as Advent began. But still, not a moment too soon. That green season after Pentecost stretches on for a terribly long time, and a long one it was this year. We arrived in Hemet on 6 May, the day after Cinco de Mayo, when the movers arrived at our old house. Pentecost was 24 May, and Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, was 31 May. It is now Advent. Much has happened in these many months. If you have been reading this blog you know. If not, you can click “SoCal Life” in the category map to the right to find out.

Certainly when Advent began last year, I never would have expected that we would be where we are today. But life takes unexpected turns and we adapt.

There was a time when I was big on enforcing Advent, meaning that one is not supposed to listen to Christmas music until Christmas Eve. My spiritual director, in one of her last sermons at her old parish before moving on to a very active retirement said, in essence, if you want to listen to Christmas carols during Advent, go ahead.

That’s good advice. I need to be gentle on myself this year, so I think that I’ll take it.

holiday wishes

This showed up on Facebook a while back courtesy of my friend Annalee. I thought it appropriate today with the beginning of Hanukkah.

The original had some text at the bottom which I think detracted from the message. The diagram delivers the complete message on its own.

Click on the image for the full-size version.

And scroll down beneath the diagram for Peter, Paul and Mary’s marvelous “Light One Candle.”


it’s still Advent

I wrote at the beginning of Advent that I had given up being the Advent Police, and that if I wanted to listen to Christmas music during Advent I would. What I’m discovering is that I don’t want to. I’m perfectly happy right now listening to music that is not of the Christmas genre. Christmas is on a Thursday this year, so there will be plenty of opportunity to listen to Christmas music between Advent 4 and Christmas Day. And, of course, for those of us in the liturgical tradition, Christmas lasts until Epiphany on 6 January, so there is lots of time to listen to Christmas music from Christmas Day until then.

Of course I impose my approach on no one. You need to do what works for you. As the internet abbreviation goes: ymmv – your mileage may vary. I certainly understand that given the headlines in the news along with the stresses of daily life many people choose to start listening to Christmas music earlier rather than later.

Happy Advent!

Sacred Music Friday: Wachet auf

First movement from cantata BWV 140 “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” (Wake, arise, the voices call us), performed by the J. S. Bach Foundation of St Gallen, Rudolf Lutz, conductor.

Advent 2014

1 Advent

It is Advent once again. Advent is always welcome after that long, green season after Pentecost, even if the Gospel reading for 1 Advent is apocalyptic in nature. The color of Pentecost depends on which denomination you belong to. The Lutherans some years ago changed the color of Advent from purple to blue in order to emphasize expectation over penance. In the Episcopal church the official color of Advent is still purple. Although as Linda my spiritual director has told me, the purple of Advent can be seen as the purple of royalty. At St. John the Divine the color is purple, we have no flowers, and we sing the Kyrie as we do in Lent, though Fr. Phil made a comment on Facebook yesterday similar to what Linda told me about purple and royalty. This year we are doing Eucharistic Prayer C for Advent, which always delights me.

I wrote a reflection at the beginning of Advent last year, which I think still holds up well, except for the reference to the year in the lectionary cycle. Last year we were beginning Year A, Matthew. This year we began Year B, Mark. The question then revolved around, as it still does this year, when Christmas can seep into Advent. I have given up taking on the role the Advent Police, and have decided that if I choose to listen to Christmas music in Advent I will so so. As Linda said to her congregation last year:

quoteI’ve noticed that there’s not much any of us can do to control Advent and Christmas. Just like babies, Advent and Christmas seem to arrive in their own time, not ours. Despite our tight-gripped control of our calendars, they are not as predictable as we would like to believe.

My intent this year us to enjoy the season. I hope you’ll do the same.

getting there

3 Advent

I almost didn’t make it to church yesterday. I turned off the alarm at 6:59, one minute before it was to go off, and lay in bed for a few minutes before I got up to feed Tasha. When I came back upstairs, I looked at the bathtub and looked at the bed. The bed won. I set the alarm for 8:45 and figured that I could get up, take a soak in the tub, have breakfast, and take Tasha for her walk, since Terry had been recovering from a cold. Then I could pick up our New York Times and hit Trader Joe’s. It was cold, after all. Besides, at church we were still singing that somber Kyrie, which I think is fine for Lent, but to me doesn’t seem quite right for Advent. Yet at 7:29 I turned off the alarm and got out of bed. It was after all Gaudete Sunday, and I really didn’t want to miss that, did I? And besides when I miss Communion something is missing from my week. I made up for the lost time by taking a shower rather than enjoying my usual tub soak.

For the Third Sunday in Advent in Year A, congregations are given the option of saying part of Psalm 146 or the Magnificat from Luke 1. (“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant…”)  As it turned out, we sang Psalm 146 in the spot for the Psalm, but our opening hymn was a beautiful appreciation of the Magnificat. Really beautiful. And the candle for 3 Advent was rose-colored. Well worth getting out of bed for.

And of course there is Communion. My week really is out of kilter when I miss Communion. So I made it there, and I am glad that I did.