Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Hush of Expectation

In some traditions we are still in the liturgical season of Epiphany, which will run until the Sunday before Lent -- March 2 this year (when we hear the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus).  It's a long season in 2014; often we have already passed Ash Wednesday by this time.

There are still hymns that can be used for the season without singing about the three kings and the star over Bethlehem, even though some worship planners are out of ideas.  Light is a recurring Epiphany theme, as well as the spreading of the awareness of Jesus.  Today the light comes from the dawn of the coming day of God, which seems appropriate for Epiphany, and also for other times of the year as well.

I encountered this text in an interesting collection I recently found, Social Hymns of Brotherhood and Aspiration (1914), though I suspect it was not first published there.

There’s a light upon the mountains,
As we greet the coming morn;
When our eyes shall see the beauty
And the splendors of the dawn;
Weary was our heart with waiting,
And the night-watch seemed so long,
But the jubilee is breaking
And we hail it with a song.

There’s a hush of expectation
And a quiet in the air
And the breath of God is moving
In the fervent breath of prayer;
Then we hear a distant music
And it comes with fuller swell;
’Tis the triumph-song of Jesus,
Promised One, Immanuel!

Christ is breaking down the barriers,
He is casting up the way;
He is calling for his angels
To build up the gates of day:
But his angels here are human,
Not the shining hosts above;
For the drumbeats of this legion
Are the heartbeats of our love.

Henry Burton, 1910; alt.
Thomas J. Williams, 1890

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