An Advent Tradition
By Jennifer Rice
To say that music has always been a part of my life may be an understatement. I have always been surrounded by music – whether singing hymns and worship music at church, listening to the radio, or listening and later joining extended family, often forming our own choir (I am pretty sure I don’t know melody lines, only harmonies) – and the Christmas season is no exception! It only makes sense that some of my fondest holiday memories are attached to music.
As a kid, we would open presents on Christmas Eve (as a child of a church worker, Santa visited our house between church services) and we always played records filled with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Carpenters, and other favorites. It became the soundtrack of that time together and a tradition I have continued with my children.
Growing up at Hope, the youth group would pile into the church van and drive house to house, visiting shut-ins, singing carols all night, and delivering treats. We would serenade the halls of the Mount and the Kenney and bringing joy and smiles to all who could hear (and they could hear us).
In college, I sang with Concordia University, Portland’s choirs. One of their traditions was their annual Christmas Chorale weekend with performances from choirs, bells, brass, and an organ. People came from around the Northwest every year to hear the music, marking the beginning of Advent just as the leaves changing colors signals the beginning of fall. There were congregational hymns with soaring soprano lines, traditional carols sung in different languages, and we always closed with alumni, including my parents and grandpa, joining the choirs in singing E’en So Lord Jesus, Quickly Come.
All of these bring so much joy to remember but one of my most cherished memories is thankfully preserved on an old home movie. The clip isn’t very long but you can see us at my grandparents’ house and my great-grandfather is singing Silent Night, Holy Night in German. Every year, as we sing this hymn on Christmas Eve, with candle light slowly filling the sanctuary, I can hear him singing and remember his smiling face.
What are some of your favorite carols and traditions? Have you started any new traditions? While the holidays can be bittersweet for many, I pray that you find joy in the music around you this season.
…the weary world rejoices!