Sunday, December 04, 2011

Advent Song

Look, God, look
in the vastness of your dark
hear this song
in the chorus of the world
where I sing
for the glory of your coming
held by love
as the music pours from me
a flame within
as the night falls around me
hear my prayer
and come through the darkness
hold me waiting
as you wait to be born.

©C.M.M. 11/05
I wrote these words six years ago. Advent for me, as I've probably blogged before, is a wonderfully Celtic experience born of darkness and tiny lights and being out on the edge of the hugeness of what to the ancients must have seemed a limitless sea. I cannot conceive of Advent in the Antipodes. Not long after I wrote it, Mr B, aka the musician John McIntosh, mentioned that he might like to set it to music, but it took him to this year to do it, and it was finished about three weeks ago. It is quite, quite lovely.

Today it was performed for the first time. And I really mean that: until this afternoon we had never heard it with the four voices for which it was written. But today we had an Evensong at Holy Trinity, a variant on the traditional Anglican choral service in which a quartet - including me and Mr B - sang the anthem, the responses and a plainsong psalm with a harmonised response for the congregation. The church was dimly lit - a combination of half our usual lighting, all the candles, the red heaters that give at least the illusion of warmth, and tiny lights clipped to our music stands - and the atmosphere electric. When we stood at the back of the church to begin with the Matin Responsory, the silence was absolute; when Andrew prayed, the silences between his words fell like a blessing; when we sang the Advent Song I felt once again the limitless power that takes over when we are all totally immersed in the moment. There was for me the additional dimension of hearing people take such care over my words - it's an awesome thing to write something and have it handed back to you so beautifully. 

Andrew's brief homily reminded us in no uncertain terms that Advent is not Christmas. I don't think anyone there this afternoon was in any doubt about the magic of the season: the exquisite tension of the waiting, the longing. The great sound of the final hymn - Lo, He Comes - came like an explosion of emotion. And when it was over, and we finally tore ourselves away from the place where the  barriers between earth and heaven had grown very thin indeed, it was snowing. 

On a day such as today, I would be no-one else, and nowhere else. 


  1. Clare7:16 AM

    'O that we were there!' ? I felt that I had been , so atmospheric a description. I would love to hear 'Advent song'

  2. Crushed not to have been there. A pox on the lurgi!

  3. What a beautiful post and wonderful poem and what a joy to sing your own words in this setting. Thank you for making me feel I had been there.

  4. Matthew11:43 AM

    Can I get copies for my choir?

  5. Matthew, if you DM me your email address, we could mail you a PDF for licensed copying - I'll go into more detail on a mail. It's not yet published. I'm @blethers on Twitter.

  6. Just wonderful. Would love you lot to come over and sing Evensong or Compline for us sometime.

    Our building is just made for it.

  7. So lovely to have all these comments! Kenny, anything is possible once the weather stops being so ... challenging.

  8. Thank you so much for the song, the poems, the music, the singing.
    That's what Advent is all about for me.

    Beloved (also a musician) and I listen to such music when we have our afternoon cup of tea and a spiced biscuit. Candles are lit to set the scene, there is peace and an expectant silence falls.

  9. I feel blessed by your prayerful song. Perfect for this time and in this world. Thank you.

  10. Thank you for this lovely Advent gift. You've enligtened the darkness of the day for me with your poem and the music and the quiet, reverent posting you wrote.

    The line you wrote that especially spoke to me was the following: "the limitless power that takes over when we are all totally immersed in the moment." When we immerse ourselves we are gifted with that power to know the deep down beauty of all humanity. We come home to ourselves.

    How beautifully you write.


  11. It was a beautiful celebration. Thank you so much for putting this up on Youtube.

  12. I came across the YouTube video "accidentally" as I was looking for something else. This Advent Song is stunning. I would love to use this, but can't find sheet music to purchase anywhere. I would be so grateful for any direction you can offer. It's a gorgeous work and beautifully done!

  13. The music is available only through the composer and me, I'm afraid. We've been stung by enthusiastic comments leading to our sending printable music files for which we were never paid, but can arrange to set up payment through PayPal if we have your details. If you leave an email address here, I'll delete it once I've got it.

  14. I would absolutely love to purchase this beautiful piece from you. You can bill me through :)