"Good Christian Friends, Rejoice!" Arranged by Dillon Ekle and presented by the HTAC Concordia Ringers
Dillon's notes follow:
In liturgical traditions, Advent is a season of preparation and waiting before Christmas. There are many faces to Advent: sorrow and grief for our fallen condition, yearning for the coming of God’s Kingdom and the end of our separation from him, excitement over our Lord’s imminent arrival, joy that even in our darkness he brings his light.
This arrangement clearly begins in Advent. It is slower, solemn. Sad, even. Through the melancholy, long and sustained peals, the melody reluctantly comes in the low bells.
Rejoice? It is dark. I am broken. The world hurts. The words of celebration are there, but they seem ironic in the context. Rejoice? It leaves a confusing taste in the mouth, not unlike the refrain of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” an entire piece devoted to exile, separation, dispersion, whose refrain says simply, “Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” The words are said in hope, not ecstasy.
Even in such a state, the heart sometimes skips a beat at the thought of his coming. The Creator of everything we see and everything we don’t see. The giver and sustainer of all Life. The Eternal Lord. “Christ is born today.” What does that even mean?
It’s no wonder liturgical traditions hold onto an entire season of preparation, followed by an entire season of pondering and celebration of the fact of his birth, before even moving onto the wonders of his death and resurrection. Sometimes, excited about our Salvation through his work on the cross, we rush past this simple and profound truth: God came to us!
GOD came to US! Each of those words merits its own celebratory feast! And then, once we have that first part fully grasped (ha!) we move further and deeper into the revelation: “Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all to gain his everlasting hall. Christ was born to save!”
Out of the whirlpool of emotions and anticipation that comes in the Advent and Christmas seasons, we arrive in a place of gratitude and humility, yet joyful expectation. Creation is a marvel. The fall is a tragedy. God’s Incarnation is mind-blowing. Our redemption is beyond words. When we stop to consider what God has done, we can be nothing but awed and grateful. AND YET HE HAS PROMISED MORE. His grace has no end. So we yearn for more, with the sure hope of his promises.