Advent – those four Sundays before Christmas. The four Sundays of explaining why the congregation isn’t allowed to sing Christmas carols, the four Sundays of readings of prophecy – when is it we get to the angels and shepherds and wise men? – and the four Sundays of lighting the advent wreath candles – do we light the white candles first or the purple or is it the pink?
Anyway, the advent wreath and the lighting of the advent candles play a really big part in those services leading up to the time when the Christmas carols can actually be sung. So, it is with great and tremendous seriousness that just the right people – or groups of people – or should we say “family units” be chosen to light those all important candles.
The instruction for doing said lighting is intense – walk forward carrying the candlelighting implement carefully so the flame is not totally extinguished before arriving at the wreath, wait patiently while – oh dear, the flame is nearly gone – the reading for candle #1 is complete – ah, just enough flame left to light that first candle – hand said lighting implement to to family-unit member #2 for the lighting of the second candle – wait for the reading – and light candle #2.
So far, so good. Hand implement to third family unit member…..Still enough fl.a…m…oops it is out. Oh no – the reading for candle #3 is over and…ah, some intelligence shown by family unit member #4 and the implement has been relit from candle #2. No, this really is serious business – two candles remaining and the congregation is blessed – all candles are eventually lit without any further consternation.
All readings have been duly completed – the inane lighting-of-the-advent-wreath-candles song has been sung – four times for this all important fourth Sunday of advent – and everyone has returned to the “family-unit” pew. Ah…let the service continue. Tremendously serious advent hymns are sung, confessions read, the Gloria Patri sung, the offering collected and the four advent candles shine forth reminding everyone of this important day in the life of the church.
The preacher has just launched into his 35 minute sermon when what to my wondering eyes – and those of the entire congregation – I behold but four flaming candles and a wreath of evergreen branches aflame!! Aflame everyone! Aflame!!!! The preacher intones on and…hey folks – advent wreath afire! What to do – is that preacher still talking??? But of course! Finally intelligence takes over the “family unit” responsible for said advent candle lighting. With the quickness and lightness of speed – the eldest of the family unit makes his way down the center aisle – no the family unit pew was not the first in the sanctuary – that as always was empty – and beats and beats that blazing advent wreath to submission with a rolled up bulletin…ah…is that the preacher still talking about making those crooked places straight???? My view from the best seat in the house, as organist.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan has made music her life. She is a performer and teacher and loves sharing her music and helping others realize their goals of becoming organists and pianists. http://www.promotionmusic.org
Jeannine received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Oregon specializing in Classical Organ performance with additional studies in Class Piano Pedagogy.
She also actively performs throughout the world and is known for her unique programming which strives to bring music alive for her audiences. Find out more about Jeannine at http://www.promotionmusic.org and the new book On The Heels of an Organist.