My Advent song pick for today is Veni, Veni Emmanuel (Version by Mannheim Steamroller)
I was just pondering the best timing for this song — liturgy-wise — and thought that it would be most appropriate for the Fourth Week of Advent, because that is the week right before Christmas, when our expectation is about to burst. That’s what this song expresses to me. Then I realized I’d gotten it all wrong!
On the one hand, I realize that this song or any Advent song is good any time during Advent (so why not today?). Then, while I’m thinking to myself, “Now, what would be a really appropriate song for the Third Sunday of Advent?” — this song is playing in the background — I’m mulling it over in my head, “Gaudete Sunday… Gaudete Sunday… Gaudete… Gaude…”
Meanwhile… The words keep repeating from this song playing in the background: “GAUDE! GAUDE!”
😐 — What am I missing here?
Well, I finally figured out that this song works well for both the third and the fourth week of Advent. During the seven days up until Christmas Eve, the Church introduces the “O Antiphons,” for which I will write a separate post when the right time comes, but if you are interested, you can read about them here (and learn what the embedded Latin words “ero cras” have to do with these special Advent antiphons). The last of these antiphons is “O Emmanuel” and all the rest of the antiphons are building up to this moment. Since the seven antiphons begin during the Third Week and conclude the Fourth Week of Advent, Veni, Veni Emmanuel is a perfect hymn for those seven days (I knew I had it right the first time! 😀 ).
Now, you’re probably thinking I’m jumping the gun here with this post. We just started Week One, after all.
What is Advent all about, though, if not looking forward?
In today’s Gospel we read:
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike…”
Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Advent is a time for us to become like children again, curious and expectant.
Expectant in both senses of the word: we share our mother Mary’s sentiments, as she is expectant with Christ; also, we are eager with anticipation for the gift God wants to reveal to us on Christmas day.
Little things like an advent wreath or having a small manger scene with an empty crib in our home are very helpful during this time. They allow us see in the light of faith what our eyes do not yet see. Similarly, Advent music allows our hearts to hear what our ears are eager to hear. These things are important, because they keep us looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise. And that is what Advent is all about.