Sunday, December 17, 2023

Waiting, Listening

"Let us have music for Christmas
Sound the trumpet of joy..."

Advent is an expectant season. We wait poised for what Frederick Buechner names "the extraordinary moment." In the excerpt below, Buechner utilizes the image of an orchestra conductor waiting... until he has the full attention of his orchestra, the full attention of his audience. It's that moment just before the music begins. I've been in an audience where the maestro knew how to build that moment of exquisite anticipation. We almost hold our breath as we wait for that first note to be played. 
"The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton. In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart . . . The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment." - from "Whistling in the Dark"
These days before Christmas, I am listening to the music of the season. There are definitely pieces that create longing in me as I wait for the first sweet note to begin. Especially when it's a favourite carol such as the beautiful and centuries-old Wexford Carol as it's performed by soloist Alison Krauss and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Some historians believe this Irish song originated in the 15th or 16th century.

Here in the 21st century, it remains a firm favourite in my Christmas carol repertoire. It touches a chord of poignant delight within. Two other carols that do it similarly for me include O Holy Night, Once in Royal David's City. Do you have a favourite carol that has you waiting with baited breath for its first notes to begin?

Wishing you sweet moments in the week ahead,

Photo credit:
Image by neelam279 from Pixabay


  1. "Let us have music for Christmas", oh yes indeed! Joy to the World springs immediately to mind as an all-time favorite, as does Handel's Messiah (even if it is perhaps more of an Easter offering)and so many more. But in the past couple of Advent seasons, O Come O Come Emmanuel has come to be a favorite. I find that its solemnity and timelessness in lyric and music somehow match my state of being. Perhaps it's this later season of life I'm in, but also as one observes and experiences the brokenness of our world, the lament that is expressed (the captive mourning in exile), and the hope the lament acknowledges (ransom us, be our king of peace) conveys so well the deep, unspoken longings of my own soul; my private anguish of soul for our world meets the universal cry of the soul--come to us Redeemer, restore us and make all things right again. Balm of a healing kind:)

  2. Music is one of my earliest memories of Christmas. As young children, probably 5 or 6, my younger sister and I sang "O Come Little Children" in my grandparents' church on Christmas Eve - in German! Those long ago Christmas days culminated in an old-fashioned carol sing around the piano. Remember the newspaper copies filled with the songs of the season? My grandparents had a dozen or so and must have saved them from one year to the next. In Grade One I sang a solo "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in a puppet show.
    Now I content myself with listening and singing in church or in the car when I am alone. "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "O Come, O Come Immanuel" echo the longing in my heart, a longing stretching down through the centuries for those who wait for Christ's coming and then the gladness of "Angels We Have Heard On High" fills me with joy. Music stirs the heart and soul in wondrous ways.

    1. Lorrie, 'In the Bleak Midwinter', and O Come, O Come Immanuel are two of my favorites!

  3. Always 'Oh Holy night'. And with memories of a little village church in Austria on Christmas Eve at midnight, singing Silent Night.
    The snow was falling, candles in the church gleamed and the reverence of those moments will never leave me.

  4. Songs of Christmas! Yes! Thank you Brenda for emphasizing the music in this Advent, Christmastime.
    I just listened to Pavarotti and “Les Petite Chanteurs” while sitting in front of my tree early this morning. Even without snow, even without the luxury of having the expectation of having children beginning to return home for Christmas and yes, even with the death of a good friend on Thursday, the music , still brings the beautiful reverence for “God with us!” ~ The expectation of the sweet Christ child, the moment when , as the orchestra waits, we wait for the “hush” of “Silent night.”
    Yesterday I went to my friend’s small, country church. The hymnals were old. I turned from page to page, rediscovering some of the older hymns that in that moment seemed most beautiful.
    Thank you All , thankyou Brenda for helping describe the “wonder” of this moment when, like the orchestra we wait, carried to the joy of Christmas morning ( or at a midnight service” ) through the heavenly threads of music!!!!!
    “Oh Holy Night” and “Silent Night “ are probably my favorites!πŸŽ„πŸ™ Merry, Merry Christmas All!πŸ’–

    1. That last comment was from me Brenda, Ann from Ohio. Praying that as you walk into this “week before” that you are feeling SO much better!!!!!!!! Thank you for ALL the amazing and beautiful posts you have shared in this past year!!!They bring such JOY!!!!!! ~ Ann, from OhioπŸ’–Merry Christmas!πŸŽ„πŸ™

  5. Brenda - this is a gorgeous carol and one I have never heard before. Alison Kraus is such a favorite of mine and she certainly does a beautiful job with this piece. Hope your Christmas is blessed with all the joy of the season. Looking forward to more of your wonderful posts in the coming New Year. It is always wonderful to come visit you. Hugs!

  6. Brenda, I love Christmas music! I love the carols especially. It's a special part of the Season for me!

  7. Thank you so much for the link to the arrangement of this carol! Alison Krauss is a favorite of ours and yet none of her albums we own have this on it. What an amazing combination of her voice with Yo-Yo Ma's playing.

    I have to say that O Holy Night has to be my favorite carol followed by O Come, O Come Emmanuel, but I also love Carol of the Bells and The First Noel when sung by a great choir. Then again I remember all of the years my children performed in the school or children's church choir and those were pretty magnificent. Sure would love to hear them again!

  8. I always love the rock edition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” performed by Mannheim Steamroller. Every December I can’t wait to pull out my Christmas CDs and listen to this song.

    -Merry K.


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo