This little nursery rhyme has always been one of my favorites. For some reason it is just fun for me to say it over and over again. Maybe subconsciously it sums up the seasons preparations while also reminding us that Christmas is bigger than just us and it's not about the gifts but the giving. Or maybe it's one of those old gems like many of our great hymns that we sing each week. I certainly am getting anxious to sing some loud Christmas carols but our beautiful Advent hymns remind us that this is indeed a time of preparation. "Wait for the Lord, whose day is near. Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart!"
I wanted to share some interesting information about the choir anthem this Sunday. Our Anthem is an arrangement of the popular Advent Hymn "O come, o come Emmanuel" (ELW # 257 VENI, EMMANUEL). I never tire of singing this great piece and this very popular hymn has a rich history. It's a translation of the Latin text Veni, veni, Emmanuel . It's a collation of various Advent Antiphons. The origins are unclear but scholars suggest that the antiphons date back to the 8th Century. The text is based on the biblical prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 that states God will give Israel a sign that will be called Immanuel (literally God with us). The tune is thought to be from the 15th century French processional for Franciscan nuns with possible influences from Gregorian chant from the 8th Century. If you notice there are 8 verses with indications to break them up over the last days of Advent.
Hal Hopson arranged the piece that this choir is singing. It is set beautifully to sound like a prayer and dove tails with a melody and text containing the "O Antiphons" or the seven antiphons that are recited preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. Each one highlights a title of the Messiah:
O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel who showed yourself to Moses and gave us the Law on Sinai Mountain
O Radix Jesse: O flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all people
O Clavis David: O key of David
O Rex gentium: O King of all nations; the only joy of every human heart
As mentioned last week, the structure of our Advent service has been set to help you to find at least one hour a week of
"non-crazy Christmas" time. My prayer is that you'll find a refreshing dose of "wisdom from on high, embracing all things far and nigh; in strength and beauty come and stay; teach us your will and guide our way".