This is the first week of Advent, a span of time during which Christians anticipate the coming of Christ. As Richard John Neuhaus puts it in the book God with Us,
Throughout Advent, Christians prepare their hearts not only for the celebration of Christmas, but also for the many ways that Christ breaks into the world—past, present, and future. We prepare for the celebration of the anniversary of God’s first coming into the world; we prepare for the many ways in which he comes to us now; and we look forward to his future coming in glory at the end of time.
In this time of waiting, here are two songs to help lead you in thought, prayer, and expectation.
“Hark! ’Tis the Watchman’s Cry.” Text: Anonymous. First published in The Revival magazine in 1859. Music: Arranged by Paul van der Bijl and Jason Reed. Performed by Chicago Metro Presbytery Music, from Proclaim the Bridegroom Near.
Paul van der Bijl, Director of Worship and Music at Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago and coproducer of the aforementioned album, writes,
The Church has been singing the texts of some of these Advent and Christmastide songs for centuries. They capture the sojourn of God’s people in particularly poignant and haunting ways. It’s a beautiful and sometimes maddening paradox to live in the piercing light of the Incarnation and yet at times feel so helplessly lost and defeated. Advent and Christmastide is the story we live right now. We wait again expectantly for the return of the King in power . . . and as we wait, we sing these pilgrim songs. When we return to these songs every year we are slowly formed into a people that are no longer overwhelmed by the darkness around us: Our hope is confident, our love is selfless, our joy is contagious, and our peace enduring.
“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” Text: An ancient Greek chant based on Habakkuk 2:20, translated by Gerard Moultrie. Music: French medieval folk melody. Performed by Bifrost Arts, from Salvation Is Created.