One of my favorite seasonal musical selections is “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” by the great English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams. The piece starts very somberly with a single cello and a baritone voice who musically narrates through the darkness. The choir hums until it takes over the narrative part. At one point, the entire timbre of the music changes and joyful singing replaces the first part of the selection’s heaviness. Suddenly, Christmas carols interrupt the dreariness, and light, short rhythmic patterns of familiar holiday songs fill the air. Christ is born, and weariness gives way to excitement.
Our conversion experience is the foundation of the masterpiece. The gifted composer, Vaughn Williams, captured the transformation from darkness into light with musical decisions that befit a genius. We understand that the people who walked in darkness saw a great light. Our souls reflect the promise of new life and conversion sprung in the innermost parts of our being.
On this second Sunday of Advent, I hope that we share in the joy of music-making as we realize that each carol, each hymn that we sing, may lead us to the father. Every song presents a new theology of hope and resurrection. Just like our lives are living examples of how night became day, mourning gave way to delight, and we find pleasure in a new way of being in the world. Let us pick up the mantle of hope and share it with a world that longs to be free.