A Canticle for Advent: Breath of Heaven

Behold The Lamb Of God by Walter Rane
Behold The Lamb Of God by Walter Rane

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong, help me be, help me

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven, Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven
CHRIS EATON, AMY GRANT 2006

 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace
Ephesians 1:7

A Canticle for Advent: Turning the World Around

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1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?

Refrain
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!

2. Though I am small, my God, my all,
you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past
to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame,
and to those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn.

3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.

4. Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard
is the promise which holds us bound,
‘Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around.
~by Rory Cooney, Canticle of the Turning (a version of the Magnificat)

 

His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
Luke 1: 50-51

He, only He, can turn our world around with his mighty arm.  He, only He, knows how and when the turning will happen.
He, only He, came to us to save us from ourselves and will return again
as we continue to betray His Word,
as we turn away from Him even when He seeks us out from the manger and from the cross.

A Canticle for Advent: Unnumbered Blessings

annunciation
The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner 1898

These daily Advent reflections are each devoted to one Christmas carol (or canticle) to prepare us for God dwelling among us– then, now and forever more.

Mary’s Song from Luke 1

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Savior shall my heart rejoice.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy Name–the Lord, the Mighty One.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and for evermore!
~Timothy Dudley Smith 1962

Mary’s life was turned upside down by the news she received and she sings out her acceptance of her part to play in bringing God down to His people.
Her words reflect the upending of the way things had been.  Instead, Jesus is the King who will be unlike any other,
coming from the most humble of women and circumstances, owning nothing, knowing richness by giving Himself away.
He conquers by showing mercy:  our hearts and souls are saved through His death, not by the deaths of enemies.
He keeps God’s promises: He is the covenant with Abraham fulfilled.
Tell out, each of us, from the soul, the good news.
We are given voice by His unnumbered blessings.

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”
Luke 1:46-55

Advent Sings: Magnified

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
Luke 1: 46-47

Mary’s song is a celebration of how the glory of God causes the unexpected: the proud are scattered, the mighty brought down, the humble exalted, the hungry are filled and the rich emptied.   This is revolution by reversal — not good news for the high and mighty, powerful and rich — and a reminder that those with plenty have great responsibility to those less fortunate.

Yet Mary’s song sings a truth pertinent to the mission of Christ on earth: He arrives lowly, lives humbly and dies despised.  His impact is from his words and actions, not from riches, political influence or the wielding of mighty weapons.

Her song puts a microscope on the revolution about to take place, within her and outside her due to Christ.  His presence on earth magnifies within her as He grows in her womb and is glorified in life, death and resurrection.

Let the singing begin!

An Advent Tapestry–For him to see me mended I must see him torn

Mary’s Song

from Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation

by Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast

keep warm this small hot naked star

fallen to my arms. (Rest…

you who have had so far to come.)

Now nearness satisfies

the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies

whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps

whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so light it seems

no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps

to sprout a world. Charmed by doves’ voices,

the whisper of straw, he dreams,

hearing no music from his other spheres.

Breath, mouth, ears, eyes

he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,

all years. Older than eternity, now he

is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed

to my poor planet, caught

that I might be free, blind in my womb

to know my darkness ended,

brought to this birth for me to be new-born,

and for him to see me mended

I must see him torn.


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