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Music Notes from Denise, December 2, 2023

We begin a new church year with the first Sunday of Advent this week. During Advent, we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus at Christmas, but also for the coming of Christ’s return as described in Revelation. We will sing a song for our Advent Candle lighting each Sunday, Christ, Be Our Light written by Bernadette Farrell in 1993. It begins in the darkness that obscures truth, which longs for the light of Christ to illuminate our world of sin and gloom It also holds the idea that we are the lights of Christ, the lamps who need to shine as beacons of hope and witnesses to the greater light of Christ. Farrell was born in West Yorkshire, England and studied at King’s College London. She has always had a passion for social justice that shows in this text. Currently she is a community organizer for UK Citizens, which advocates for fair housing, a living wage, community policing and health care access. “In this hymn, social justice and Advent are wedded together in a thoroughly modern way, while grounded in the promise of glory and hope found in the Old Testament and in the coming of the Messiah, the light of the world.” (Gordon Giles, Sunday by Sunday issue 81, RSCM)


Our Processional hymn is infused with the imagery of morning light and stirs hope in the hearts of all who look forward to the return of Christ. The King shall come when morning dawns is a confession of faith in the sure return of our Lord; his coming again will occur in a blaze of glory, which will far surpass his earthly death and resurrection. It was written by John Brownlie in 1907, who was a Presbyterian pastor in the Free Church of Scotland. He wrote and translated several volumes of hymn texts. (Psalter Hymnal Handbook,


Our Sequence hymn will be Come now, O Prince of Peace written in 1991 by Geonyong Lee. This elegantly simple hymn, paraphrased from Korean and set to the author’s own tune, gives voice to the hope of reconciliation between divided peoples. It appeared in the Iona Community’s second volume of Songs of the World Church. It is the practice of this community to devote the Monday evening office to prayer for justice and peace, where, on occasion, individual stanzas of this hymn are sung between intercessions. (GIA publications; from Wonder, Love, and Praise hymnal supplement, Church Pub.)


St. Martin’s Choir will sing the spiritual My Lord, what a mornin’ for the offertory. The text of this song includes many apocalyptic images: “trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52 for the trumpet shall sound) “stars begin to fall” (Revelation 6 and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth) “wake the nations underground” (global peoples on earth under heaven’s perspective) “my God’s right hand” (Christ sitting at the right hand of God). It certainly describes our expectations of the advent of Christ. My Lord, what a mornin’ when the stars begin to fall. You’ll hear the trumpet sound to wake the nations underground, looking to my God’s right hand, when the stars begin to fall. You’ll hear the Christian shout to wake the nations underground. My Lord, what a mornin’. (


Our final hymn will be Soon and Very Soon, written by Andrae Crouch (1942-2015). It illustrates our hope and expectation of Christ’s return, and the need for us to be open and ready. Crouch grew up in the church with both parents as pastors. He began playing music in their church at the age of 11 and wrote his first gospel song at 14. Since then he has won nine Grammies and numerous other awards. After his parents died, with his twin sister Sandra Crouch he took over the pastorate at the New Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ in Pacoima, California until his death. ( We will end our service singing “Alleluia, Alleluia, we’re going to see the King!”

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