Sunday, November 30, 2014

Veni Veni Emmanuel

The radio was tuned to Ottumwa's country station, dipping its toe into holiday fare now that Thanksgiving's over, as I drove south to supper last night --- "Away in a Manger" sandwiched between "God Didn't Make Me a One-Woman Man" and "I'm Getting Drunk on a Plane."

'Tis the season.

Then while searching the Web this morning for a YouTube performance of a favorite Advent hymn, "On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry," a praise band version turned up. Dear God. If Christianity ever lands on the scrap heap of civilization it will not be because of theological innovation or social liberalization --- it will be because of praise bands. And deservedly so.

So finally, to mark the beginning of Advent, I came back to this version of "Veni Veni Emmanuel," performed by the Domchor, or Cathedral Choir, of Paderborn Cathedral (the Cathedral Church of St. Mary, St. Liborius and St, Kilian) in Germany.

The text here is based on the O Antiphons, responses to the Magnificat appropriate for Advent, that seem to have originated no later than the eighth century --- rephrased, of course. The tune can be traced to 15th century France. The pairing of text and tune first was published in the Anglican "Hymns Ancient and Modern" during 1861 --- better known in English as, "O Come O Come Emmanuel."

It's a lovely way to begin the season, appropriate accompaniment for lighting the first candle. And be sure to remember that the correct greeting for these days before Christmas Eve is neither "Happy Holidays" nor "Merry Christmas." It's "Blessed Advent."

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