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!