Musically, our service on Sunday will be very eclectic. During the pageant, we will sing hymns that allude to Christmas as we hear the story of the Nativity. However, at the offertory, we step back from that as the choir sings Wait for the Lord by Jacques Berthier (1923-1994). Berthier wrote nearly all the music used in the Taizé Community in France. Some of you may be familiar with Taizé music, as it has become very popular in many liturgical churches. The Taizé Community is a non-denominational religious community, founded after the Second World War, that has become one of the best examples of ecumenism in the world. Catholics and Protestants alike worship there, and the monks who make the community their home come from many different faith backgrounds. There is something powerful in the music Berthier composed for Taizé. In the many repetitions of the refrain as soloists sing verses of scripture over it, we are drawn into a prayerful spirit of waiting – a spirit that is at the heart of Advent. The experience is much like a litany in that it repeats a phrase over and over until it becomes part of an unbroken prayer.
During Communion, we will sing another Communion Antiphon and Psalm. The refrain this week, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son”, ties in perfectly with the Gospel of the Annunciation. I invite you to think on the mystery of the Annunciation as the cantor sings verses of Psalm 19 between the refrains. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.”
Finally, as we process to the new nursery after the service, we will sing Savior of the nations, come!. Both the text and tune of this hymn are very old and filled with history. The text was penned by Martin Luther (1483-1546) after an older writing by St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397). In this text, we implore God to come to us. Then, we sing of the entire story of Christ’s earthly life and ask that we be brought into everlasting life. The tune, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, is from the Erfurt Enchiridia of 1524, one of the first Lutheran hymnals, but its roots stretch back ever farther into the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
So, as we wait for God on this fourth Sunday of Advent, I hope we will reflect on Christ’s journey to dwell with us and how we have journeyed together to dwell in the moment of Christmas. In the words of our last hymn: ”Come, O Father’s saving Son, who o’er sin the victory won. Boundless shall your kingdom be; grant that we its glories see.”
Christopher W. Powell
Organist and Choir Master