when life to joy awakes

When I am caught in the rush and frenzy of December and all focused thought of Advent is at risk, the shape and coherence of the season is held for me by the music.  There is the sharp anticipation of I look from afar (‘tell us, art thou he that should come’), the deep familiarity of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, the joy of Gabriel’s Message, and the hush of Marian lullabies.  But this year, the Advent earworm has been a Kingdom hymn — not usually my chosen genre at all:

The King shall come when morning dawns
and light triumphant breaks
when morning guilds the eastern hills
and life to joy awakes.

Not, as of old, a little child,
to bear and fight and die,
but crowned with glory like the sun
that lights the morning sky.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and earth’s dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
the day that e’er shall last;

And let the endless bliss begin,
by weary saints foretold,
when right shall triumph over wrong,
and truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns
and light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
come quickly, King of kings.

It is such a wonderful inversion of most stories of eschatology, in which our joy is projected into a heavenly Kingdom that is not-now, not-here, not-yet.  But imagine if it were the other way round.  What if the fullness of God’s kingdom is brought about by our waking to joy, our being alight with God, and filled with the beauty of the morning sky?

What if Advent is not about our waiting for God at all, but is about God waiting for us?

One thought on “when life to joy awakes

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