ADVENT is an anticipatory season full of music. Sadly, because of the pandemic, we are more or less sidelined from our ability to collectively sing with others in this particular year. But we look forward in anticipation of a day that, while it is not yet here, is seen. The song will be restored. Hallelujah.
In that spirit, we can join in the words of Psalm 126 from a community reflecting on return and restoration:
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
Here is a triptych of poems that capture or express some of the hopefulness and vision that can be found in the longing songs of Advent. I wrote the middle poem in reflection of “Everyone Sang,” which was written in celebration of the end of WWI. “December” concludes with the singing of angels. The art is “Hallelujah” by Mike Moyers.
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields;
on- on- and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away… O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless;
the singing will never be done.
by Siegfried Sassoon
Because Singing Belongs
Because singing belongs to everyone.
Because song is humanity’s halo.
Because it is the practice of community,
and it is a path of healing to the heart.
Because, as much as anything else,
singing opens the curtains of heaven.
Because Mary’s baby kicked inside her
and the song she loosed resounds still.
Because my mom always sang, and
I still hear her. Because I miss singing
carols with people during the days
of this pandemic’s mute pall. And yet
the song has not stopped. It sings.
The Word became (and becomes) flesh,
but it was (and still is) sung into place.
Every voice in concert ring, evermore,
and evermore. Everyone sang. And yes,
everyone will sing. Hallelujah. Because.
by Warren Howell
A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye
Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,
And also the partridge in a pear tree
And the golden rings and the turtle doves.
In the dark streets, red lights and green and blue
Where the faithful live, some joyful, some troubled,
Enduring the cold and also the flu,
Taking the garbage out and keeping the sidewalk shoveled.
Not much triumph going on here—and yet
There is much we do not understand.
And my hopes and fears are met
In this small singer holding onto my hand.
Onward we go, faithfully, into the dark
And are there angels singing overhead? Hark.
by Gary Johnson
“Hallelujah” © Mike Moyers. MikeMoyersFineArt.com