Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let New and Nobler Life Begin

A new year for the church begins today with the First Sunday in Advent as we prepare for the Incarnation later this month. The theme of the day in many churches is often not specifically about the birth of a baby, but closer to last week's Christ the King commemoration, talking about the coming of Jesus as the ruler of the world.

For our third Advent here at the blog we begin with a German Lutheran hymn from the seventeenth century,based in part on Psalm 24:7-10, translated by Catherine Winkworth in 1861 and appearing in many different versions across different denominations.

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
Behold, the King of glory waits;
The Word of Life is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here!

O blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this Fount of Justice comes!

Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
From earthly use for heaven’s employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer, come, with us abide;
Our hearts to Thee we open wide;
Let us thy inner presence feel;
Thy grace and love in us reveal.

So come, my Sovereign, enter in!
Let new and nobler life begin;
Thy Holy Spirit guide us on,
Until the glotious crown is won.

Georg Weissel, 1642;
tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1861; alt.
Tune: TRURO (L.M.)
Psalmodia Evangelica, Part II, 1789;
harm. Lowell Mason, 19th cent.

The longer version of this text, in Weissel's original meter, with eight-line stanzas, can be seen here. A modern translation by Gracia Grindal, Fling wide the door, which first appeared in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), uses the original German tune, MACHT HOCH DIE TUR, named for the first line of Weissel's text).

The annual Advent debate in undoubtedly underway in many places: Can we sing Christmas carols in worship during Advent? The answer here is still "No."


AuntE said...

Over the years I've been at St. Andrew's, we have gradually built up our repertoire of Advent hymns/carols so we now have enough to cover all 4 Sundays. It's wonderful! And for the most part, people no longer ask me for carols... :)

C.W.S. said...

Yes, Advent has been an educational process in many places that have tried to restore it to its proper place.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

Perhaps it would be easier for folks to learn to give Advent some space (or time, rather) if they gave Christmas its proper 12 days of intensive celebration, and followed it with a proper Epiphany.