בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

Bārūch atāh Adonai Elohênū melekh ha`ôlām šeheḥeyānû veqîmānû vehigî`ānû lazman hazeh

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us life and sustained us and brought us to this season

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fourth Advent: Peace

All three purple and the one pink candle lit
The Babe of Bethlehem, who came as the True King of Israel, stood in marked contrast to Herod the Great, the technical "King of the Jews" at the time.  Jesus was, as Isaiah prophesied, above all a "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).  However, the peace that Jesus brings to our lives is more often internal and spiritual than it is external and temporal.

While the prophesies of Isaiah describe an era of world peace that Christ will establish in the Millennium with his Second Advent, the joyful message of both Christmas and Easter is that we can have peace in this life now, regardless of the earthly circumstances in which we may find ourselves.  War, terrorism, crime, and social injustice and violence may destroy outward peace, and the loss of loved ones, grief, disappointments, faded faith, and a host of worries can crumble our inner peace.  But through Jesus Christ, we can be reconciled to God, having peace of conscience and the quiet, strengthening support of his spirit in times of trouble and heartache.  Then, once we are at peace with God, we can work, heart by heart, at being at peace with those around us.

In the New Testament, Paul describes "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7), and in the Doctrine and Covenants we are promised that we can have "peace in this world" as well as "eternal life in the world to come" (D&C 59:23).  Accordingly, on the last Sunday of Advent, which is the last Sunday before Christmas itself, we celebrate the peace that the birth of Jesus promised and the Atonement of Christ accomplished.


The Promised Advent
  •  "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;  And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:  But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth . . ." (Isaiah 11:1–4, emphasis added)
  • "And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people; For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead." (Mosiah 15:18–20, emphasis added)

On the Eve of His Coming: The Annunciation to Joseph


The Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth
Although it is not known exactly when the angel came to Joseph, the fact that it happened after Mary "was found with child" places it securely after Gabriel's annunciation to Mary and probably after she returned from her visitation to Elisabeth, when her pregnancy would have been obvious.

One can only imagine the emotional turmoil that Joseph felt as he struggled with the knowledge that his fiancee was pregnant.  The angel's message no doubt brought peace to this good man, who had already shown that he was eager to do the right thing by Mary and the child.
When as . . . Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
With Elaine and Samuel in front of the Holy Family
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son . . . (Matthew 1:18–25)
Click here to watch a video of me giving a tour and describing both the annunciation sites in Nazareth.


Joseph and Jesus, Our Children and Us (from God So Loved the World, 34)


Guido Reni, "Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus" (Wikimedia Commons)
            The story of how Joseph the Carpenter accepted, protected, raised, and no doubt loved a precious child who was not his own is one that stirs the heart.  In many traditions, his goodness and faithful discharge of his special mission has earned him the title Saint Joseph, and he is honored together with Mary and the Baby Jesus as part of a Holy Family.  After the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke and the brief story of the boy Jesus in the temple, Joseph is never heard of again.  Passing references to Jesus’ supposed father (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 6:42) together with his absence otherwise later in the Gospels seem to suggest that he was no longer alive when the adult Jesus began his public ministry.  We are left instead with the impression of a very good man, the loving husband of a special woman and the guardian of a precious child.

            Those who have adopted or fostered the children of others may identify particularly with Joseph.  But those of us who have biological children of our own or even those who have not yet been blessed with any children can still learn a dear lesson from the example of Joseph.  In a real sense, none of our children are our own.  Priceless spirit children of heavenly Parents, all children on this earth are only here on loan from a loving God who trusts all of us—parents, grandparents, family, friends, and even strangers—to protect, care for, teach, and love them.
            Occasionally on Christmas Eve I give each member of my family a card depicting Mary with Jesus or Joseph with Jesus.  We each take some time to write on the back of it some gift that we will give the Savior that coming year. Without fail, looking at an artistic depiction of Joseph fills me with a great sense of duty and gratitude.  Looking at the image of Mary underscores for me that Elaine is not just my wife; she is herself a daughter of God.  Thinking of how I hope some man will one day treat my own daughter, Rachel, I realize how my Father in Heaven wants me to treat Elaine. In other words, God is not just my Heavenly Father; he is, in a sense, also my father-in-law!  And as I look at my own precious children, I feel, like Joseph, that I have been entrusted with a great treasure.  Recognizing that Joseph was a strong, responsible, and loving man who sought and received revelation to care for his family, I am inspired to emulate those qualities.  In those moments, the gift I hope to give my Lord that year is to be more like Joseph the Carpenter.
See also Peggy Fletcher Stack, "Joseph's Example an Inspiration for Stepfathers Everywhere," Salt Lake Tribune 12/21/13.


 
The Peace that Christ Brings
  • "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

  • "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."  (Romans 5:12, emphasis added)
  • "Be careful for nothing (alt., "do not worry or be anxious about anything"); but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:67, emphasis added) 
  • " . . . the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ . . ." (Mosiah 4:3, emphasis added)
  • "Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me." (D&C 19:23, emphasis added)

Looking Forward to Christ's Second Advent  
  • "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.  And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.  And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious."  (Isaiah 11:6–10, emphases added)
  • "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."  (Revelation 21:2-4, emphasis added) 
The traditional Anglican collect for Fourth Advent from the Book of Common Prayer reads: 
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that thy Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Music for Advent

A fitting carol for the last Sunday of Advent is “It Came upon the Midnight Clear,” the last verse of which speaks of the time “when the new heaven and earth shall own the Prince of Peace their king.”
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heav'n's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still thru the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav'nly music floats
O'er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hov'ring wing,
And ever o'er its babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

For lo! the days are hast'ning on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heav'n and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.


As part of our recognizing and honoring Joseph, I love the song, "Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mine."  In Good Tidings of Great Joy, 36, I wrote: “One of the most popular Christmas songs in Germany, this tune has been sung to two different texts, Resonet in laudibus, the earliest copy of which dates to between 1355 and 1360, and Joseph, Lieber Joseph Mein, which may be as old as 1400.  Frequently sung after the Reformation in Lutheran communion services on Christmas Eve, it was also sung at weddings because the loving relationship between Joseph and Mary seemed to typify the ideal Christian marriage.  In harmony with Matthew’s focus on the figure of Joseph the Carpenter, the role the lyrics paint for Joseph is a fitting tribute to the man chosen to be the protector of the Son of God.”





As we quickly approach Christmas Eve, I am always stirred by one of the oldest Christmas texts, Corde natus ex parentis or “Of the Father’s Heart Begotten” written by Aurelius Prudentius c. 348–413. Best known for its setting to the Medieval chant “Divinum Mysterium,” J. M. Neale’s English rendition is deeply moving and catches the mystery of the Incarnation.


Of the Father’s love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega —
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see
evermore and evermore.
  
O that birth forever blessed,
when a virgin, blest with grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bore the Savior of our race;
and the babe, the world’s Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore. 

This is he whom seers in old time
chanted of with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long-expected;
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.

Let the heights of heaven adore him;
angel hosts, his praises sing:
powers, dominions, bow before him
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
every voice in concert ring
evermore and evermore.

Christ, to you, with God the Father
and the Spirit, there shall be
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and the shout of jubilee:
honor, glory, and dominion
and eternal victory
evermore and evermore.




Sunday, December 17, 2017

Awaiting the Coming Messiah: The "O Antiphons"

The Poissy Antiphonal, Wikimedia Commons
Beginning on either December 17 in the Roman Catholic tradition or December 16 in the Anglican tradition, a series of antiphons, or responsive songs, that focus on the coming Christ are added to evenings prayers.  These antiphons are of considerable antiquity, being attested as early as the sixth century A.D.  They took their present form in Western Christianity when Benedictine monks included them in their Advent liturgy.

Because each one of the seven beings with the interjection "O!," they are commonly called "O Antiphons."  Each one takes a name or title of the Messiah from scripture, particularly from the prophecies of Isaiah.  The titles are as follows:
  • Sapientia (Wisdom; see Proverbs 8:1, 22–32)
  • Adonai (Lord; see Isaiah 43:1–7)
  • Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse; see Isaiah 11:1–9)
  • Clavis David (Key of David; see Isaiah 22:20–24)
  • Oriens (Day-star; see Isaiah 42:1–7; Luke 1:78)
  • Rex gentium (King of the Nations; see Isaiah 45:8–13; Jeremiah 10:7)
  • Emmanuel (Immanuel or "God with us"; see Isaiah 33:20–22 and Isaiah 7:14)
The first letters of each title form an acronym, which, when read backwards, reads ero cras, Latin for "I will come tomorrow."

The hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," the preeminent Advent carol that opens the season on the first Sunday of Advent, is a metrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons.




Below appear the traditional, sometimes loose, English translations of the antiphons followed by the corresponding verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

December 17: O Sapientia.

O Wisdom, who didst issue out of the mouth of the most High, and dost reach from one end of the world to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

                    O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
                    Who orderest all things mightily;
                    To us the path of knowledge show,
                    And teach us in her ways to go.
                        Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                        Shall come to thee, O Israel!
                   
                    See Proverbs 8:1, 22–32


 





December 18: O Adonai
   
O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in a burning bush, and didst give him the law on Sinai: Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.

                    O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
                    Who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
                    In ancient times didst give the law,
                    In cloud and majesty and awe.
                        Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                        Shall come to thee, O Israel!

                    See Isaiah 43:1–7






December 19: O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, who standest for an ensign to the peoples, at whom kings shall shut their mouths, and to whom the Gentiles shall pray: Come and deliver us, and do not delay.

                    O come, thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
                    From every foe deliver them
                    That trust thy mighty power to save,
                    And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.
                        Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                        Shall come to thee, O Israel!

                    See Isaiah 11:1–9





December 20: O Clavis David

O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel; who openest and no one shutteth, who shuttest and no one openeth: come and bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

                    O come, thou Key of David, come,
                    And open wide our heav'nly home;
                    Make safe the way that leads on high,
                    And close the path to misery.           
                        Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                        Shall come to thee, O Israel!

                    See Isaiah 22:20–24
 





December 21: O Oriens

O Day-Spring, radiant everlasting Light, and Sun of Righteousness: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

                    O come, thou Day-spring from on high,
                    And cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
                    Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
                    And death's dark shadow put to flight.           
                        Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                        Shall come to thee, O Israel!   

                    See Isaiah 42:1–7; Luke 1:78





December 22: O Rex gentium

O King of the Nations, and their Desire; the Cornerstone who dost unite the divided into one: Come and save mankind, whom thou didst create out of clay.
   
                    O come, Desire of nations, bind
                    In one the hearts of all mankind;
                    Bid thou our sad divisions cease,
                    And be thyself our King of Peace.           
                        Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                        Shall come to thee, O Israel!   
                   
                    See Isaiah 45:8–13; Jeremiah 10:7






December 23: O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the One whom the Gentiles expect, and their Salvation: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

                    O come, O come, Emmanuel,
                    And ransom captive Israel,
                    That mourns in lonely exile here
                    Until the Son of God appear.           
                        Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
                        Shall come to thee, O Israel!   

                    See Isaiah 33:20–22 and Isaiah 7:14



Saturday, December 16, 2017

Third Advent: Joy


Two purple candles and the pink candle lit
Luke’s account of the Savior’s birth, complete with the angel’s annunciation of “good tidings of great joy,” provides one of the most joyful scenes in scripture.  Traditionally the third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin injunction “Rejoice!” Frequently read on this Sunday is the verse, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).  While the entire season leading up to a Christmas is a joyful period today, historically Advent was largely a solemn season of preparation, but Gaudete Sunday was a welcome reminder that the Christmas message was, in fact, one of happiness and rejoicing.

As a result, the third candle in many Advent wreaths is often pink or rose-colored, setting it off from the other three purple candles.  However, I find another useful image in the pink candle, choosing to see it as representing the blood of Christ that he would shed in his Passion, reminding us in the midst of Christmas preparations that Jesus came into the world foremost as a sacrifice. Nevertheless, the sorrow of Christ’s suffering and death is blotted out as we triumph in his resurrection, and we anticipate the return of Jesus in his Second Coming with joy (Good Tidings of Great Joy, 94).


Third Advent in 2017 with our niece and cousins as we celebrated the Joy we have in Christ---remembering his first advent, the joy we have in the gospel now, and looking forward, with joy, to Jesus' return.


The Promised Advent 
  • “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.  Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.  And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.  Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth” (Isaiah 12:2–5, emphasis added) 
  • “And he said unto me: Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.  For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.  For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay . . . And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.” (Mosiah 3:3–8, emphases added)
   
On the Eve of His Coming: The Visitation and the Magnificat 

The hill country of Judah at `En Kerem
Early in her pregnancy, Mary traveled to the hill country of Judea, where her relative Elisabeth lived. Upon her arrival, both Elisabeth and her yet-unborn son John received witnesses from the Holy Ghost that Mary's child was the promised Savior, a testimony that filled them with joy.  In turn Mary responded with an inspired, poetic song of praise, known traditionally as the Magnificat.

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
The Church of the Visitation at `En Kerem
And Mary said,
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:
for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him
from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm;
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats,
and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath holpen his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers,
to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. (Luke 1:39–56)

Click here to see Elaine and Rachel read the words of Elisabeth and Mary at the Church of the Visitation at `En Kerem, the traditional home of Zacharias and Elisabeth in the hill country of Judah

See "Mary and Elisabeth Rejoice Together," The Life of Christ Bible Videos.








The Joy that Christ Brings
  • "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." (John 16:20–22, emphasis added) 
  • "And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one." (3 Nephi 28:10, emphasis added)

Looking Forward to Christ's Second Advent
  • "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls . . . But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1 Peter 1:6–9, 4:13, emphases added)

The traditional Anglican collect for Third Advent from the Book of Common Prayer reads: 
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with the and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

Music for Advent (see Good Tidings of Great Joy, 93–94) 

The best known carol that sings of joy is, of course, “Joy to the World.” The text is a Christian paraphrase of Psalm 98 by Isaac Watts (1674–1748), and it was firmly associated with the hymn tune “Antioch” by Lowell Mason (1792–1872) in 1836. Popular with many Christian groups, different churches have adjusted the lyrics slightly to accord with their own beliefs or sensitivities. Latter-day Saints are no different, following the lead of W. W. Phelps and changing “and heaven and nature sing” in the last three lines of the first verse to “and saints and angels sing.” Because it is both familiar and fun to sing, our family always sings this carol at the end of our third Advent celebration.


While “Joy to the World” may be a natural and easy Christmas carol to sing in connection with this Advent theme, I am personally attracted to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” even though it is not strictly a Christmas song.  From Bach’s cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, the English rendition most commonly sung certainly catches the joy and mystery found in the Incarnation of the Son of God as Jesus Christ:
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.




Because I like to link the pink of the third candle to both the Advent theme of joy and the anticipation of Jesus’ saving blood, I also like to at least read through or think about the words of the carol “The Holly and the Ivy.” This traditional English carol was set to a French melody by Cecil Sharp (1859–1924) in 1861.  Employing pre-Christian symbols, it nonetheless powerfully anticipates the Passion of Christ:

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

Oh, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Savior.

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

The holly bears a bark
as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
for to redeem us all.