People Look East

Here is a great Advent song, and just a great song, period:

1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

Since I have, on rare occasions, had an unkind word or 6 to say about grim little ditties inflicted on innocent Mass-goers, thought I’d take this chance to give a shout out to a song that should be acceptable to one and all, because:

1. It was written by a woman – a woman never sold as chattel to be enslaved by oppressive males. I mean, a woman who never married. Although she had many life-long male friends. So, however you want to view it, she’s OK!

2. It was written by a non-Catholic. I’m guessing this is a plus, as a part of the Marty Haugen mystique seems to be how not Catholic he is.

3. Most important: it’s actually good! the music swings, it catchy, and, while its got a bit of a range by wimpy Catholic standards, it’s not too hard to sing. And the lyrics are joyful, literate, and just satisfying – and she takes no shortcuts on the meter, refraining from stuffingafewextrasylablesintherebecausethey’rejusttoogoodtoleaveout.

V1: To view Winter as the Crowning of the Year – how cool is that? That the king is coming, so rather than mourn the death of daylight, we make our houses fair as we are able. Clear, evocative, startling.

V2. Continuing to stand nature on its head, we tell the barren, frozen earth to nurture the Seed. Very sacramental – as will be repeated throughout, she paints Creation as subject to the Creator, and as cooperating in God’s act of giving us grace, regardless of whether we – or even Nature – thinks the time is proper and right. I’m imagining she was pretty high church, but I don’t know.

V3. Now, we introduce birds – animals, with the same theme of making ready in the fullness of time that trumps the Year’s Midnight.

V.4 We consider yet higher creation – stars – closer to God, bearers of a message – the heavens proclaim the glory of God, as the psalmist says. And this new star is Light, brighter than Sun and Moon together.

V.5 Finally, we address angelic creatures, the pinnacle of Creation up until the Birth of the Savior raises us, unworthy though we be, to being brothers and sisters of the King of Angels (and sons and daughters of the Queen of Angels, but she doesn’t go there).  These are the angels that announce the Nativity to the shepherds, and fill the sky with hymns of praise – ‘announce with shouts of mirth’

So, we start with us in verse 1, then move up the order of created beings from earth, to animals, to stars, to angels, ending with a song of mirth sung by a heavenly host – to a bunch of tired, smelly, dirty shepherds, a story of a baby wrapped in rags and lying in a feeding trough while farm animals mill about.



Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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