HoMY 84: Silent Night

silentnight.jpg Today begins the last week of Advent, and therefore marks our last Sunday before Christmas. During the past few weeks, I’ve been populating our Advent space with Christmas carols, as the church where I grew up (the -of-my-youth part) didn’t really observe the liturgical calendar, so I knew nothing of Advent until much later. One of the standard carols which appears each year is one that we’ve already had to sing by virtue of one of the Christmas gatherings where we were in attendance. Taking some notes from Wikipedia,

Silent Night (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol. The original lyrics of the song Stille Nacht were written in German by the Austrian priest Father Josef Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1863, John Freeman Young translated the song into the English version sung today. The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber’s original.

Compline, Third Week of Advent

advent-3candles.jpg I haven’t posted much along the theme of Advent during the season this year… quite a departure from what I did last year during Advent. It being already well into the evening now (at least where I’m posting from), I thought I would share some excerpts from the Compline for the third week of Advent taken from my book, That You Might Believe: Praying Advent with the Gospel of John. The book includes some original prayers and many others taken or adapted from a variety of sources, as noted below.

Here Beginneth the Advent…. waiting…

Advent Candles

This morning I’ve got my feet up on my desk, my wireless keyboard in my lap. A cup of fair trade organic decaf Peru Panachi sits nearby, freshly brewed and French-pressed. I am taking time to consider Advent. It isn’t that I have time, or that I make time… I haven’t the surplus time today or this week, and I cannot manufacture time. I cannot even manage time — it marches on relentlessly no matter what I may try to do about it. But I can choose what to do with my time, moment-by-moment. And this morning it seems that a bit of reflective time would be wise stewardship of the time — the gift of time that I’ve been allotted today. Yesterday I began reading God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, and I anticipate a few pages each day through the rest of the season before me, and up to Epiphany. Epiphany — it seems so far off, yet it isn’t. Time will pass and it will be here before I know it. The last year has passed on as well, thanks be to God.

HoMY 81: O Little Town of Bethlehem

bethlehem.jpg Today is the first Sunday of Advent for 2008, and we mark the first day of a new year in the liturgical calendar. Last year during this season, I added to my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth by drawing in the Advent-themed hymns that fit into my Advent blogging program. This year I don’t have a formal blogging program planned for Advent, so I’ll be adding Christmas carols to the list. The church I grew up in did not mark Advent or observe the liturgical calendar at all, so there were simply Christmas carols for the weeks leading up to Christmas. This week’s entry was written by Phillips Brooks in 1867. There are alternate tunes for the carol, but the original and probably most familiar is the one by Lewis Redner, who was Brooks’ organist at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The tune came to him on Christmas Eve, and was first sung the next day.

A Lectionary of Shalom

peace_face.jpg Last fall in considering a missional order, I did some writing on the topic of shalom. This is a significant theme in the Bible — its basic meaning is “well-being,” but it has a wide semantic range that can stress particular nuances, including totality or completeness, fulfillment, maturity, soundness, wholeness, community, harmony, tranquility, security, friendship, agreement, and prosperity. Theologically, it is one of the most significant terms in Scripture — in translating it as “peace,” we refer not merely to time between wars nor happy thoughts of contentment. In thinking of “peace” as we often consider it, we short-change this word of much of its meaning.

Approaching Advent: A Season of Darkness?

candle-dark.jpg With Advent just over a week away now, Advent resources are beginning to appear online, including Christine Sine’s New Advent Meditation and planned synchroblogs. I organized a synchroblog last year for Advent, and have collected all the post links for reference as well. I’ve also begun to reread some of my past posts for the season, like Bethlehem and Mixing metaphors, and Kicking your way to the Light. There are also collections of Advent resources appearing online as well.

I’m starting to think on these themes just a little, as the SBT Book of Hours project is getting underway. Oddly enough, Lent was subscribed pretty quickly, with Christmas and Advent falling behind. I didn’t have any particular leaning and offered to fill in where necessary, so drew Vespers during the Christmas season as a result. There’s still an opening left under Advent, so I’m considering that too.

Advent: Resisting Christmas

adventwreath.jpg Last year I wrote a piece for Next-Wave on the theme of Advent. We talked a lot about Advent themes last year as I completed my book, That You Might Believe: Praying Advent with the Gospel of John. I’m not sure yet if there are any synchroblogs planned for Advent this year, but I thought I would start taking up the topic a little eary so it doesn’t catch me off-guard like it so often does. Usually the season sneaks up on me before I know it, but this year I’m trying to think ahead. Unless you’re celebrating by the Celtic calendar, of course. In this vein, I thought I’d reprint last year’s Next-Wave article.


Magi For the record, there are twelve days to the Christmastide season… let the feasting continue! We should know this from the famous Christmas carol, yet these days most of us may just scratch our heads as to what, when, and why the twelve days are. It turns out that the 12 days song actually has some relation to a variety of theological themes. Coming to the point thought, we’ve moved out of the Advent season and into the Christmas season. In my Advent book, I have included an extra set of daily offices for use during the Christmas season… kind of a bonus for those who made the purchase. Although the Advent synchroblog has ended, the daily office and the celebration of Christmas go on. The extra office is designed to keep the Christmas themes present in our minds throughout the season. In the book, I introduced it this way: