Sunday, December 11, 2016


I had every intention of doing posts on each Sunday in Advent. I am not going to whine and blame it on a cold, but I will say (sadly, sadly....) that either my aging immune system is starting to find the eternal business of warding away ailments to be too much for it, or seasonal ailments have a much more pernicious tenacity than they had in my youth. Colds are supposed to be relatively paltry ailments, aren't they? Someone should point that out to the nasty thingy that is going around ambushing the population here.

However, this being the 3rd Sunday in Advent - Gaudete Sunday, and half way through this season of penance, and the tenacious ailment slackening its vicious hold on my motivation, I thought I would take the time to mark this happy day with a rather beautiful excerpt from Handel's Messiah:

Today also seems like the ideal day to share a recently re-discovered Tolkien poem that was in the news a few months back. It is technically a Christmas poem, but the first couple stanza's seem so Advent that today seemed a very good day to most it:

 Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.
The wind in the trees was like to the sea,
And over the mountains’ teeth
It whistled bitter-cold and free,
As a sword leapt from its sheath.
The lord of snows upreared his head ;
His mantle long and pale 
Upon the bitter blast was spread
 And hung o’er hill and dale.
 The world was blind, the boughs were bent, 
All ways and paths were wild : 
Then the veil of cloud apart was rent, 
And here was born a Child. 

 The ancient dome of heaven sheer 
Was pricked with distant light ; 
A star came shining white and clear 
Alone above the night. 
In the dale of dark in that hour of birth 
One voice on a sudden sang : 
Then all the bells in Heaven and Earth
 Together at midnight rang. 

 Mary sang in this world below : 
They heard her song arise
 O’er mist and over mountain snow
To the walls of Paradise,
 And the tongue of many bells was stirred 
In Heaven’s towers to ring 
When the voice of mortal maid was heard, 
That was mother of Heaven’s King. 

 Glad is the world and fair this night 
With stars about its head, 
And the hall is filled with laughter and light, 
And fires are burning red. 
The bells of Paradise now ring 
With bells of Christendom, 
And Gloria, Gloria we will sing 
That God on earth is come

It is not so strong as some of his later poems, but you can see glimpses of his future poetry in it. The imagery is strong and beautiful, and it seems the sort of thing that ought be set to melody, and sung by people who are glad to sing and do so heartily.

And with that, a very happy day to all of you, and a blessed Advent season.

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