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Patience, People...

posted Dec 4, 2010, 1:34 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 1, 2013, 3:41 PM ]
I bet most of us don’t get through a single day right now without hearing a Christmas carol somewhere.  So why aren’t we singing them yet?  Well, despite what Macy's or Wal-Mart might think, Christmas doesn't start until December 25 (or its vigil) and runs past New Year's Day to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this year on January 9.

Advent has its own songs and traditions — including lighting the four candles of the Advent wreath — and it would be premature to sing Christmas songs about the birth of Christ before he's actually born.  The anticipation of those favorite carols is like a 5-year-old waiting for a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve.  "It would be like opening your Christmas presents before Christmas morning, like sneaking into the closet and ruining the surprise," says Kathleen Pluth, a Catholic hymn writer in Washington DC. "It's a bit of a let down."  And Michael McCarthy, the music director at Washington National Cathedral, adds "Would you sing Happy Birthday before someone's birthday?”

This year, while you’re decorating and scurrying and shopping for something from my wish list, postpone playing the Christmas music sometimes, and instead listen to an Advent song you didn’t know before.  If you like traditional hymns, try Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates or The Coming of Our God.  Medieval carols include People, Look East and The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came.  For a more contemporary sound, listen to Michael Joncas’ A Voice Cries Out.  Perhaps you already prefer one I don’t know; if so, share it with me!  The St. Louis Jesuits have written some of my favorites, including A Time Will Come for Singing, Every Valley, and of course, Patience, People
 
Patience, people, for the Lord is coming… 
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