This Sunday we continue in our series in Philippians, looking at Philippians 4:8-9. Also, this Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent. Join us as we begin to sing waiting songs. Advent is the time of year when we focus our attention on the first coming of Christ in order to teach ourselves how to eagerly wait for his second coming. The people of God of old had to wait patiently for the savior to come and deliver from bondage. That savior has come but his work is not finished. Like them, we also eagerly wait for Jesus to return and to bring the fullness of his kingdom. Here are the songs we'll sing together:
1. COME THOU LONG EXPECTED JESUS
Style: We will be playing the traditional version of this hymn. It will be mid to up-tempo.
Song info: The first two stanzas of this hymn are attributed to Charles Wesley in 1744 but the final two were not penned until 1978 by Mark E. Hunt. This is one of the rare advent hymns that focuses on the theme of anticipation. In the song, Jesus has not yet come but the people of God are eagerly expecting him. We can sing this song today remembering his first advent and also longing for him to come again.
2. COMFORT, COMFORT O MY PEOPLE
Style: This is a song from the renaissance that is festive, a mid madrigal, and lacking in a time signature. Yet it is easy to sing with a very catchy melody.
Song Info: The lyrics to this song are lifted almost word-for-word from Isaiah 40:1-8 which was a prophesy concerning the future restoration of Jerusalem. Most famous from this section are these lines:
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
These lines were first adapted in the seventeenth century by Johann G. Olearius then translated into english by Catherine Winkworth in the nineteenth century. The tune comes from Claude Goudimel from the sixteenth century who was responsible for arranging many of the Psalms found in the Genevan Psalter - the production of which was overseen by John Calvin.
This song takes up the anthem of Isaiah 40 in proclaiming peace to the people of God who have long suffered in exile. The anthem is for us today:
Comfort comfort O my people; Speak of peace now says our God
Comfort those who sit in darkness; Mourning 'neath their sorrow's load
Speak unto Jerusalem; Of the peace that waits for them
Tell her of the sins I cover; And that warfare now is over.
3. LO HOW A ROSE E'ER BLOOMING
Style: This is a renaissance era tune that does not have a definite time signature. It is melodic, chordal, and prayerful.
Song Info: The origins of this song are anonymous and it first appeared in the sixteenth century. It's lyrics are certainly based on Isaiah 11:1 - "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." This hymn has been widely used by both Catholics and Protestants but interestingly the interpretation of the hymn has divided along those lines. Catholics sing this song in reference to Mary being the shoot of Jesse that brings forth the fragrant flower (Jesus). Protestants sing this song in reference to Jesus being the shoot of Jesse. The tune of this song is from Brahms.
4. MARANATHA! COME LORD JESUS
Style: This is a song written in a modal key and, for that reason, has a middle-eastern feel. It employs the use of a cantor and the congregation sings the refrain. It is low-tempo and prayerful.
Song Info: This song was written by Janèt Sullivan Whitaker in 2002. It is a true Advent song in that it is a prayer for the Lord Jesus to come soon. It puts us in the place of ancient Israel awaiting the initial arrival of the Messiah while at the same time allowing us to anticipate Jesus' return from our place today.
5. O Come Divine Messiah
Style: This is a traditional advent hymn that is mid-tempo and joyful.
Song Info: The words to this hymn were originally written in French in the 18th century by M. l'abbé Pellegrin but were translated into English in the 19th century by Sister Mary of St. Philip. This song is a true advent song which is not celebrating the arrival of our Lord, but eagerly anticipating his coming.
See you Sunday!