Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Songs of the Season: The Bells of the Season

I was raised in a church (Babylon United Methodist Church, on Long Island in NY state) that sang Christmas Carols from the first Sunday of Advent up to Epiphany. And we didn't just sing them. We belted them out. We sang every carol as if it were blaring from the radio of a car (except "Silent Night", of course). I think the rumble of the organ and the timbre of the voices of friends have made their way into the very basic parts of my body and soul.

Which is why, once I was seminary-trained, I found it so frustrating to wait on these carols, like we were taught to do in Worship Class. Oh no, Advent was a time of preparation and waiting for the birth of Jesus. Don't rush through it! Keep those Christmas carols for Christmas!

The problem, I soon found, was that there really wasn't a whole lot of music for the weeks preceding Christmas, so I took matters into my own hands.

I wrote my own Advent song.

Sung to a familiar tune (TRURO, LM, often used for "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates), "Bells of the Season" was written for a four week sermon series I did one Advent when I was pastor of Bethany United Methodist Church in San Francisco. From a young age, bells and Christmas seemed to go together (and I never even watched "It's a Wonderful Life" until just a few years ago).  Bells cause us to pause, to reflect, to listen up. In some communities, bells ring out warning as well as communal celebrations. Bells remind us of how fleeting time is. Bells call us to attention, to stay alert.

What are those bells that call to us
To open up our broken hearts?
Bells that connect, bells that unite
Bells of the season, ring so bright.

What are those bells that call to us
To open hands to those in need?
The bells of justice, God's new day!
Bells of the season, help us pray.

What are those bells that call to us
To dance, to laugh, to embrace life?
The bells of joy, for God's great gift.
Bells of the season will uplift.

What are those bells that call to us
 To praise the Christ whose birth we sing?
The bells of faith, our Savior's come!
Bells of the season, bring us home.

(This hymn can be found in Shaping Sanctuary: Proclaiming God's Grace in an Inclusive Church, ed. by Kelly Turney)

What are those bells that call to you? What are they calling you to?

No comments:

Post a Comment