It was the first Sunday of Advent when we sang this hymn in church. It was vaguely familiar. “Awake! Awake and Greet the New Morn.” The lyrics go like this…
Awake! awake, and greet the new morn, for angels herald its dawning. Sing out your joy, for soon he is born, behold! the Child of our longing. Come as a baby weak and poor, to bring all hearts together, he opens wide the heavâ€™nly door and lives now inside us for ever.
To us, to all in sorrow and fear, Emmanuel comes asinging, his humble song is quiet and near, yet fills the earth with its ringing; music to heal the broken soul and hymns of loving kindness, the thunder of his anthems roll to shatter all hatred and blindness.
In darkest night his coming shall be, when all the world is despairing, as morning light so quiet and free, so warm and gentle and caring. Then shall the mute break forth in song, the lame shall leap in wonder, the weak be raised above the strong, and weapons be broken asunder.
Rejoice, rejoice, take heart in the night, though dark the winter and cheerless, the rising sun shall crown you with light, be strong and loving and fearless. Love be our song and love our prayer and love our endless story, may God fill evâ€™ry day we share and bring us at last into glory.
We couldn’t have been far into the second first when the tears started leaking from my eyes. Later in the service came a sermon that got me scrambling for tissues a second time. By the end of the service, I was well out of tissues and Zoe was giving me sidelong glances. I was comforted that the woman in the pew ahead of us was wiping her eyes too.
Though I have a genetic predisposition to cry in church, it is hard for me to explain crying in church to Zoe (Mark has gotten used to it by now). To let her know that they are not sad tears or necessarily even happy tears. They are tears of recognition. They are, somehow, worshipful tears. Tears of welcome to a God who has shown up and held my heart yet again.
We have sung it each Sunday since, so the lyrics have cemented themselves more firmly in my brain. I find them coming to me when I drift to sleep or when I wake up. “Though dark be the winter and cheerless”–could the author possibly have lived in West Michigan? I remind myself to be “strong and loving and fearless.”
I am looking forward to singing this song on Christmas. I expect I may even cry. Welled up gratitude spilling over for tidings of comfort and joy coming to us even today.