Advent III – Comfort.


Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.

For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all men to repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
make the rougher places plain:
let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
now o’er the earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that his word is never broken.


Words: Johann G. Olearius, 1671;
trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Music: Psalm 42 Midi tune found here. [with one really bad chord in it.. trying to find a better recording.]

There is a short list of songs that, in certain seasons of the year, I would desperately miss during my mega-church-Evangelicalism season of life. Elements of the church calendar were mentioned in passing but, with the occasional exception of Lent, they weren’t at all integrated into our services or worship times. This hymn is the one that I would always miss the most during Advent. The tune, while rhythmically interesting, is not hard, but it’s unique. And the text is a fabulous setting of several of the preparation texts that are commonly read during Advent. I especially love the third verse, that reflects on crooked being made straight, rough places plain, and the glory of God revealed. I hang my hat on this preparation for Advent III this year.

I continue to be shocked at how quickly the season is passing. Only one more Sunday of Advent in 2009. We’ll be decking our halls sometime this weekend, as we always wait until after Advent IV to do so. I’m anxious to get there, but not so anxious that I want to miss the message of the ensuing days. Christmas concerts abound this week for our kids at their schools, and that’s all very fun. It’s so beautiful here in Baraboo – we have SO much snow, but it’s also wicked cold. All the more reason to stay cozy inside, and to contemplate what it will take in my life this week to make straight what was crooked, to make plain what was rough, and, most importantly, to let my heart be true and humble to befit His holy reign. That’s good stuff.

No lightning bolts this week, but a steady, paced movement toward Christmas Eve. May my heart and soul and life be ready!

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7 thoughts on “Advent III – Comfort.

  1. There’s more than one chord I’m not fond of one the midi. But I love Comfort ye. One of my dearest, dear Katie, put the last verse on jumbo return address labels for her Advent letter.

    The line that chokes me up–always–is “tell her that her sins I cover”. What relief!

    Blessings to you and yours,

    Carol

  2. Steph,

    Your comments re the winter weather made me recall my favorite hymn of this time of year – I sneak it in during advent around week 3 . . . Sang it today also (sunday #4) and though it is a christmas hymn the simplicity of the tune and lyrics lends itself to advent – at least for me.

    In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan
    Earth stood hard as iron water like a stone
    Snow had fallen
    snow on snow
    snow on snow
    In the bleak midwinter long ago

    -Phil

    • Phil, I love it too… I think I might have blogged it last Advent, can’t remember at the moment and can’t look it up! 🙂

      Yesterday I snuck in ‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten’ – because of the awesome Mary verse [Magnificat Sunday of Advent..] and because it uses lots of Advent imagery words of glory, shines, long expected…. it was a fabulous way to launch into Christmas week.

      Bless you and the fam! I’m going to be in Waunakee for a funeral on Saturday – wondering if you might be there as well?

      Steph

  3. Dear Steph:
    Oh how I love to read your words!!! I hope that you and yours have a blessed Christmas. It always warms my heart to know that we are both Episcopalian and somehow share in those wonderful feelings that makes our faith so very special. I wrote a few lines this morning on Donna’s blog and thought of you as I wrote them. Oh my and food for thought with your words, “make straight what is crooked, make plain what was rough….”; we should all approach Christmas with these thoughts; thanks for sharing them with us!
    Christmas Love ro you and yours, Ruth Ann in East Texas

  4. It is always lovely to stop by here during the Christmas season to read your thoughts concerning advent. Beautiful!

    P.S. Someday, somehow we are going to meet each other. 🙂 And I will be more than willing to sit down and talk PS with you (for hours!!) if you’d like. Hee!

    A BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!

  5. steph, just a beautiful post. for me this last week before christmas is the hardest time to keep my additude right… to reflect on His glory, to prepare my heart. sometimes it seems so much harder to that than others, and this time is one of those for me. beautiful post steph. love you! and merry christmas to you and your beautiful family!

    • Melinda, did you by chance ever see the SNL ‘Debbie Downer Christmas’??? I laughed SO hard at it on hulu.com this week, but it seriously caused me to take a moment to consider my attitude, which was sadly lacking.

      I’m in the basement this afternoon wrapping presents while my daughter [who will be FIVE on Christmas Day!] is making crafts. Simple joys. Life is good. God is good. We are blessed!

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