Pastor Jeff says: There are two ways to look at Advent. The first and probably most common way is to see it as a past event – you know, shepherds keeping watch by night, a choir of angelic hosts, the manger and all the rest. This is an important and proper way of commemorating Advent. The second way to view Advent is to see it as a future prediction of Christ coming again, of remembering the promise that God is not done yet. When Advent is seen in this light, it requires from us an openness to the incarnation of God yet again. This Sunday we’ll have a chance to see what God is asking of us.
Our organist John Atwood tells us: My interpretation of the general mood is based on the hymn “Watchman.” The postlude is pleasant, not too soft … I think the music is most effective when it fits into the liturgy, “Soli Deo Gratias.”
One of this week’s hymns is the children’s favorite, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” by Cecil Frances (Fanny) Alexander, born in Dublin in 1818.
Among her more famous hymns are “Once in Royal David’s City” and “There is a Green Hill Far Away.” She also translated a Gaelic poem called “St Patrick’s Lorica (Breastplate) into the hymn “I Bind Unto Myself Today,” which to this day is a great favorite of Irish Christians. Each of these is a strong companion as we walk the liturgical year.
Fanny was devoted to the poor, mentally handicapped, the deaf and the sick. When she died, the Londonderry cathedral bell was rung to intone her passing to all the city.
“All things bright and beautiful,” based on the Apostles’ Creed is usually printed without two of her original verses (#3, and #6) due to their controversial nature regarding class equality:
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.
The poor man in his straw-roofed cottage,
The rich man in his lordly hall,
The old man’s voice, the child’s first whisper,
He listens, and He answers all.
Fanny was pointing out the equality in God’s eyes between old and young, rich and poor. The Church of Canada has added this delightful verse:
The rocky mountain splendour
the lone wolf’s haunting call
the great lakes and the prairies
the forest in the fall.”
This hymn is found in hymnals throughout the English-speaking world and was re-set by contemporary composers such as John Rutter, and was even parodied by Monty Python!