The Bleak Midwinter

7 comments Written on December 8th, 2008     
Filed under: Music, Order of Worship, Style of Worship, Theology

I’ve heard these reasons for not singing traditional advent music:

  1. The songs are depressing
  2. Most people don’t know they are seasonal, and would not make that connection in worship
  3. The songs are unfamiliar
  4. The Christmas songs are so good, it’s a shame to only sing them once
  5. We already know the end of the story, so it’s no fun to sing about the stuff that’s already happened

What do you think/do about this issue? 

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7 comments “The Bleak Midwinter”

Personally I can see some validity in the reasons for not singing traditional advent music, especially if the church is trying to be seeker-sensitive. However, I think Advent and Lent also are important seasons for the church to remember and acknowledge. Worship leaders or pastors should make the connection between the expectation of the Old Testament prophets awaiting the birth of Christ and how believers are now awaiting his Second Coming with the same sense of expectation.

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Matthew. Thanks for these comments. I wonder, these days, if most anything traditional can be done, even in services where there are a lot of visitors, but the song or liturgy should be packaged so that the congregation understands what is being said or sung. People surely understand the pain and discomfort of waiting– even seekers.

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One of my favorite theologians speaks of worship as the enactment of the Gospel. The whole Christian Calendar if used well is a profound way to structure that enactment. I think “enacting” is another way of saying “embodying” and the Christian year is a wonderful structure for this way of witness. Perhaps one answer to
Advent music is for our contemporary song writers to give some prayerful thought to creating songs for the season of Advent that will help us enact this part of the story in our contemporary setting.

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This is my favorite new Advent song — although I’m biased —

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Dan. Well said. Thanks for that. And Brad, I love the lyrics, but I can’t find a button for the audio sample. What am I missing? Thanks for logging in here! And thanks for passing on your favorite Advent song. You should be biased.:)

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It’s the .mid sound file (audio sample) link

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Here is an article at First Things web site about Advent or the lack thereof. The author puts it thus,”Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbled it up with the turkey giblets and the goblets of seasonal ale.” The post can be found here

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