1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
Style: We will sing the traditional version of this hymn. It will be mid-tempo.
Song Info: The melody of this song dates back to the 16th century and is commonly known as "Greensleeves". William C. Dix wrote the lyrics. This is another song that causes us to meditate on the humble nature of Christ. "This! This! Is Christ the king". This unlikely, unlooked for, unadorned, poor child is actually the anointed one of God. The audio included here does not exactly match the version we will sing, but it does give an idea about the tempo, melody, and feel that we'll be going for.
5. O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL
Style: We will be singing the traditional version of this hymn, though perhaps at a more up-tempo pace than you may have heard in the past.
Song Info: This song works well as a Call To Worship during the advent season because it is announcing that the advent of the kingdom of God has come and calling all of those who have been faithfully waiting for it to come and witness what God has done. The writing of the lyrics are attributed to John Francis Wade in 1751. This hymn was originally sung in Latin.
See you Sunday!