Singing through Advent
by Sr Anna Mary House
“High o’er the lonely hills Black turns to grey,
Birdsong the valley fills, Mists fold away;
Grey wakes to green again, Beauty is seen again -
Gold and serene again Dawneth the day.”
This is Jan Struther’s Advent. What is the Day that we await? The Scottish pastor James Montgomery found his answer in Psalm 72 :
“Hail to the Lord’s Anointed , Great David’s greater Son!.....
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free,
To take away transgression, and rule in equity........
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemmed and dying, were precious in his sight.”
An earlier poet, John Milton, pondered over psalms 82, 85 and 86 , and wrote :
Mercy and Truth that long were missed Now joyfully are met;
Sweet peace and righteousness have kissed And hand in hand are set.
Rise, God, judge thou the earth in might ; This wicked earth redress;
For thou art he who shall by right The nations all possess.....”
The Scottish Paraphrasers in 1781 looked to the second chapter of the prophet Isaiah, and sang:
“ Behold, the mountain of the Lord In latter days shall rise
On mountain tops, above the hills, And draw the wondering eyes.
To this the joyful nations round , All tribes and tongues shall flow;
Up to the Hill of God, they’ll say, And to his house we’ll go.”
John Morison looked to the ninth chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, rejoicing in the coming of the “child of hope”:
“His name shall be the Prince of Peace, for evermore adored,
The Wonderful, the Counsellor, The great and mighty Lord.”
From these earlier writers to the 20th century, let us sing with Luke Connaughton of the Anointed Healer, Teacher, “lamp to every nation”, who is to bring a glorious dawning of a new daybreak, as “The voice of God goes out to all the world”; “With power, with justice, he will walk his way “.
Aren’t these the longings that fill our hearts at this time ? These are the songs of Advent, songs that we can all sing with the Psalmists the Prophets, and the Christian writers who have shared these hopes, this faith: of a Saviour who has already come, and is yet to be born anew in our own lives.