Archive for December 13th, 2020

Third Sunday in Advent

Close your eyes, breathe, and clear your mind. Be still. Center your scattered senses on God’s presence.

REFLECTION: Written by Juan Carlos Acosta

It may come as a surprise as a church/choral musician that I am not particularly fond of Christmas music.  Besides the fact that Advent/Christmas has always been our most busy season keeping us from family gatherings, holiday parties, or even shopping. Most choral musicians start working on Christmas music months ahead of time, and as a conductor I have often been preparing that music since August. We circle back to the same dozen or so carols, despite hundreds or even thousands of truly wonderful settings. I know that familiarity and nostalgia are hallmarks (pun intended) of the season, however I find that because those settings are so familiar, we might miss the profound message that they hold.  “O Come Emmanuel” is one of a very select group of familiar Advent carols that we use.  I love the traditional hymn and tune, and the original Latin chant is quite stunning. The setting by Sir David Wilcocks for organ, choir, and congregation somehow feels like home.  However, occasionally a new setting captures my imagination and helps me hear again and perhaps in a new way the words of these familiar songs.  Contemporary composer, conductor and author Elaine Hagenberg composed a hauntingly beautiful new setting of “O Come Emmanuel.” I have now programmed it three years in a row for three different groups and I keep coming back to it. (You can hear the different versions on other postings!)

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 47:5-7

God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.

Pause and meditate on the Scripture.

PRAYER:  Written by Scott Cairns, a contemporary American poet, professor, librettist, and spiritual  essayist.

Unknowable One, we stand before you, hardly daring to look up. We offer you our hearts, and pray that we may, this day and ever, worship you in ways that are true. Forgive us those days when we have worshipped false and faulty images we have shaped. Help our frail senses, that we may apprehend your Presence and your Love. In the everlasting Name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Click on the link to see and hear the music video.

MUSIC VIDEO:  The Gesualdo Six: Veni, Veni Emmanuel (Latin setting).  Submitted by Juan Carlos Acosta

IMAGE: Rochelle Blumenfeld: Hear My Praise

If using an advent wreath, light the first two purple candles and the third rose-colored candle. This candle symbolizes joy and is called the Shepherd’s Candle. To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too. In liturgy, the color rose signifies joy.

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