This Advent season I am going to reflect on a hymn or carol daily as part of my spiritual practices. I am not sure where all these reflections will take me, but in conversation with my spiritual director, I am going to leave room for both “the head stuff” and “the heart stuff.” Some days might be more of one or another. I invite you to join me, as together we make space to listen, and be present, to sense what God might be up to.
And so, we have reached the day before. Not only is it the day before the fourth Sunday of Advent. It is also the day before Christmas Eve. That has me singing the melody of an old Norwegian Christmas carol, “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve.” I grew up with this hymn, as part of my family and home congregation’s heritage. There is just something about the words and the tune, that bring back memories of Christmases past with grandparents, parents, siblings, and friends. They also bring back memories of family worship services, present opening, caroling, anthem singing and playing, meals galore, and much more.
I am so glad each Christmas Eve, the night of Jesus’ birth!
Then like the sun the star shone forth, and angels sang on earth.
The little child in Bethlehem, he was a king indeed!
For he came down from heaven above to help a world in need.
He dwells again in heaven’s realm, the Son of God today;
and still he loves his little ones and hears them when they pray.
I am so glad each Christmas Eve! His praises then I sing;
he opens now for every child the palace of the king.
And so I love each Christmas Eve, and I love Jesus too;
and that he loves me every day I know so well is true.
These are the verses you may sing in worship tomorrow on Christmas Eve. They are beautiful lyrics that move to the chanty like beat. But there is at least one other verse that probably won’t be sung (nor probably should be) in worship, that also come to mind.
When mother trims the Christmas tree which fills the room with light,
She tells me of the wondrous star that made the dark world bright.
Forgiving the gendered language, this verse brings back even more memories of Christmas decorating with my family in years past, and now of the fun Allison and I share each year trimming the house.
It also has me thinking of the latest work that the congregation has done for us and our home. They recently saw to the installation of a beautiful fireplace, just in time for Christmas. It fills the room with light, and in case the power might go out, it will be a source of warmth and heat on these cold winters days and nights. I am grateful for Salem Lutheran, and for the way they continue to welcome us as part of the community, and as their pastor (Allison) and pastor’s family.
On this day before Christmas Eve, I hope that you are able to get that which needs to be done, done. And that which doesn’t, I hope you are able to put aside and take some time today to enjoy life- whatever that might mean for you and those close to you. As for me, I am looking forward to some more snow that’s forecasted to fall today. Can you say, White Christmas?
Credit/Reference: Marie Wexelsen, Peter Knudsen, “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve,” tr. Peter A. Sveeggen, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 271. The Christmas Tree verse comes from Lutheran Book of Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1978), 69.