A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent

I thought I would tell of another Advent devotional. These days, it seems, more and more churches have allowed contemporary praise music to supplant liturgically sound Advent and Christmas carols. Actually, this isn’t as you might at first think; many of the edgier and contemporary services actually do shape their music around Advent themes. (Tip of the hat to my old bud Gordon Carpenter, a really thoughtful contemporary music leader, for instance!) Still, I know some churches that just have given up on the carols, rich as they are. And don’t get me started—please, don’t get me started–on melodramatic bum, bum, ba, baaaump! (ding!)—overly-orchestrated and poorly written Christmas cantatas.
And so, the urgency of tonight’s post on another Advent devotional book. O Come Emmanuel: A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent and Christmas by Gordon Giles (Paraclete Press; $14.95) is a sweet and intelligent collection of well-crafted reflections inspired by the texts of great, great seasonal songs. From Come Thou Redeemer of the Earth to People Look East, to the standards such as Hark the Herald Angles Sing, (so cogently written by Charles Wesley & George Whitefield) and O Come, O Come Immanuel and the like, this guide is wonderful in its diversity. How great is a devotional that includes powerful essays on In the Bleak Mid-Winter to Good King Wenceslas, the work of Vaughan Williams and the music of Taize? I think it would enhance anyone’s Advent and Christmas season, and would make a wonderful gift.
Know any choir members, directors, musicians or writers? Anyone who cares about the poetry of church history? Who loves thinking theologically about music (or would benefit from a chance to do so?) You know, this is a season when discussions of Christian faith and theology are publically sanctioned, and, with the holidays upon us, it is appropriate now in a way it rarely is, to give gifts of religious books. Why not take advantage of this seasonal open door and share some thoughtful Christian literature with a colleague or neighbor or friend? They just might appreciate it. Check out O Come Emmanuel by Anglican priest, vicor, muscian and philosopher, Gordon Giles, well- published by our friends at Paraclete. Very nicely done.

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O Come Emmanuel
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