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Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent hymn commission--

Some time ago I had a commission to write words for a hymn celebrating the Bicentennial at Christ Church Cooperstown. The lyrics were first sung to the hymn tune St. Anne, though later to another that suited them better--I've forgotten which one it was and shall have to look it up.

And now I've had another request, this time to write words for an Advent hymn, and to a particular tune, Merla Watson's Awake, O Israel. Advent hymns are somewhat rare, it seems. The words seem to beg for a more lyrical and perhaps mystical tune, but they fit the distinctive meter of the music. It has been sung three times this season. The second stanza has been used as a chorus, as well.

When I was younger, I disliked being asked for occasional poems--as though one could only write such things when burning with inspiration--but now I find them an interesting challenge. That may say that age brings a hint of wisdom, or it may say something else entirely.


INFANT LIGHT
Advent Song 

In winter comes
The snow and darkness
Of the ebbing year when breath
Is white on air
And all the world
Shrunken, leaning into death.

Let’s braid our branches
Into an Advent wreath,
Weaving boxwood with bay,
And light our candles,
The rose and purples,
Leading us to Christmas Day.

In the mid-winter
The seeking Magi
Pursue a star in flight—
We are the Magi
Still trailing after,
Waiting on the infant Light.

O starry Christ-child,
Who knew our names
Before the worlds were made . . .
Again in winter,
We’ll hail thee, Child
In peace and love arrayed.

4 comments:

  1. It would be hard not to write a lyrical musical line to this hymn of yours, Marly.

    It is a very beautiful hymn. I am fussy about them, in my own way.

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  2. Paul, you are Mr. Lyrical. I'm sure it would be hard not to, for you!

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  3. Lovely!
    i shall have to glean from the 'net a recording of the tune...as i'm not familiar with that one.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.