• advent journal: sing to the night

    by  • December 9, 2015 • advent journal, christmas, music • 3 Comments

    We got our Christmas tree up today, along with the candles in the windows in good New England fashion. And it’s halfway through Advent. As I was working on things this afternoon, I listened to my friend Billy Crockett’s  song “Coasting Into Christmas” and found a helpful and hopeful resonance, which led me to think this might be a night to share some of the songs that feed me through the season. We’ll start with Billy. The song, by the way, is found on this wonderful record, A Very Blue Rock Christmas.

    Coasting Into Christmas

    coasting into the holiday season
    why don’t we drive around and see some lights
    buy some eggnog for no good reason
    singing carols may be up all night
    this year we’ll take it slow
    and savor every part
    feel the ancient wonder
    as it penetrates our heart
    but the lines were so long
    and the car was so dead
    and the mystery thing happened
    with the pumpkin bread
    and we’ve got extra second cousins coming over
    can we find them a bed
    and I know this holiday can handle
    all things great and small
    but I guess we won’t be
    coasting into Christmas after all

    coasting in with the holiday spirit
    I think I’ll sharpen up the turkey knife
    but they’re killing each other down at the galleria
    but here at our house it is a wonderful life
    this will bring the season in with perfect flow
    champagne and candlelight
    and Mr. Perry Como
    but the credit cards maxed
    and we still don’t have a tree
    and the packages came back
    with a postage fee
    and grandma’s been detained
    by airport security
    and they are skating right now
    at Rockefeller Plaza as I recall
    but I guess we won’t be
    coasting into Christmas after all

    and just by chance I glance
    at these small figures in the round
    and think about the story
    that’s been so long handed down
    how the pregnant girl takes to the road
    on a rented donkey with her boyfriend Joe
    and there ain’t no inn in Bethlehem
    seems to have gotten the memo
    now they’re hunkered down exhausted
    in some two bit barnyard stall
    and they said, I guess we won’t be
    coasting into Christmas after all
    no I guess we won’t be
    coasting into Christmas after all

    James Taylor at Christmas gets a good bit of play around here, and the song that seems to have particular meaning this year, in the face of so much xenophobia, is “Some Children See Him.”

    Some Children See Him

    some children see Him lily white,
    the baby Jesus born this night.
    some children see Him lily white,
    with tresses soft and fair.
    some children see Him bronzed and brown,
    the Lord of heaven to earth come down.
    some children see Him bronzed and brown,
    with dark and heavy hair

    some children see Him almond-eyed,
    this Savior whom we kneel beside.
    some children see Him almond-eyed,
    with skin of yellow hue.
    some children see Him dark as they,
    sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
    some children see him dark as they,
    and, ah—they love Him, too

    the children in each different place
    will see the baby Jesus’ face
    like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
    and filled with holy light.
    o lay aside each earthly thing
    and with thy heart as offering,
    come worship now the infant King.
    ’tis love that’s born tonight

    If you’ve followed this blog through other Advents, you know one doesn’t pass without me mentioning Patty Griffin and “Mary.”

    Mary

    Mary, you’re covered in roses
you’re covered in ashes
    you’re covered in rain
    you’re covered in babies, covered in slashes
    covered in wilderness, covered in stains
    you cast aside the sheet, you cast aside the shroud
    of another man, who served the world proud
    you greet another son, you lose another one
    on some sunny day and always you stay, Mary

    Jesus says, “Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer”
    he flies right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
    while the angels are singing his praises in a blaze of glory
    Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

    oh Mary, she moves behind me
    she leaves her fingerprints everywhere
    every time the snow drifts, every way the sand shifts
    even when the night lifts, she’s always there

    Jesus says, “Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer”
    he flies right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
    while the angels are singing his praises in a blaze of glory
    Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

    Oh Mary, you’re covered in roses
    you’re covered in ruins
    you’re covered in secrets
    you’re covered in treetops, covered in birds
    who can sing a million songs without any words
    you cast aside the sheets, you cast aside the shroud
    of another man, who served the world proud
    you greet another son, you lose another one
    on some sunny day and always you stay
    Mary, Mary

    The next song is another repeat performance, this time by Steve Earle.

    Nothing But A Child
    once upon a time in a far off land
    wise men saw a sign and set out across the sand
    songs of praise to sing, they traveled day and night
    and precious gifts to bring, guided by the light

    they chased a brand new star, ever towards the west
    across the mountains far, but when they came to rest
    they scarce believed their eyes, they’d come so many miles
    and this miracle they prized was nothing but a child

    and nothing but a child could wash those tears away
    or guide a weary world into the light of day
    and nothing but a child could help erase those miles
    so once again we all can be children for a while

    now all around the world, in every little town
    every day is heard a precious little sound
    and every mother kind and every father proud
    looks down in awes to find another chance allowed

    and nothing but a child could wash those tears away
    or guide a weary world into the light of day
    and nothing but a child could help erase those miles
    so once again we all can be children for a while
    nothing but a little baby
    nothing but a child

    “The Peace Carol” is a song I first learned from John Denver on his Christmas Special with the Muppets (you can watch the whole thing here). Beth Wood offers a wonderful version that is also a part of A Very Blue Rock Christmas.

    The Peace Carol

    the garment of life, be it tattered and torn
    the cloak of the soldier is withered and worn
    but what child is this that was poverty-born
    the peace of Christmas Day

    the branch that bears the bright holly
    the dove that rests in yonder tree
    the light that shines for all to see
    the peace of Christmas Day

    the hope that has slumbered for two thousand years
    the promise that silenced a thousand fears
    a faith that can hobble an ocean of tears
    the peace of Christmas Day

    the branch that bears the bright holly
    the dove that rests in yonder tree
    the light that shines for all to see
    the peace of Christmas Day

    add all the grief that people may bear
    total the strife, the troubles and care
    put them in columns and leave them right there
    the peace of Christmas Day.

    the branch that bears the bright holly
    the dove that rests in yonder tree
    the light that shines for all to see
    the peace of Christmas Day

    I’m going to send you off with one more video from James Taylor that doesn’t need lyrics. All you need to do is share the joy.

    Peace
    Milton

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    3 Responses to advent journal: sing to the night

    1. David R
      December 10, 2015 at 10:19 am

      I love these musical selections. My favorite is “Some Children See Him”, but have always wanted to change one word in the last verse:

      “the children in each different place
      will see the baby Jesus’ face
      like theirs, ALL bright with heavenly grace,
      and filled with holy light.”

      since each child is a gift from God, with infinite potential.

      • cthomson
        December 10, 2015 at 10:44 am

        Nice.

    2. December 10, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      Thank you, thank you!
      Lucy

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