Happy New Year!
No, I am not a month too early. I am referring to the beginning of the new liturgical year in Advent. This will be my 22nd Advent at my current church. Whether it’s your first December in a new job or your 41st, it is always the busiest time of year for all of us. Far too often, I must confess, it gets the best of me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets upset when important rehearsals have members missing because of office parties, school programs and holiday family events. “How can all these people have all these conflicts that are more important than church?” I’ll bet you have had that thought many times, just as I have. Breathe in, breathe out, say a prayer for patience and forgiveness, and then most importantly, a prayer of gratitude for all those in our music ministries who give of their time week after week.
The best part of Advent is pulling out all the organ and choral music that is so special to each of us. Just as Advent is a time of waiting, these pieces have been waiting all year to be brought out of their hibernation just in time for Advent. The Bach settings of Savior of the Nations, Come (BWV 659) and Wachet auf are two favorites that always bring me such joy year after year. Dan Forrest’s setting of The Work of Christmas is a new favorite of mine and the choir. I’ll bet you also have several favorite organ carol settings by Paul Manz or Wilbur Held. December would not be complete without including these musical gifts we give to ourselves and our congregations.
I wish you all a successful and joyful Advent. May the words we sing and the music we play transform us and prepare us for Christmas, and to be Christmas for others.
Bradley Swope, Dean