Monday, December 07, 2015

Second week in Advent

Advent: it is a season which holds both preparation and celebration, both reflection and creation. In the prayers said at mass when I was growing up, it was a time when we were advised read and reflect on the wisdom to be learned from the scriptures. I thought then and still do that there is much wisdom of the season to be gained in song and story, in poem and painting and looking up at the night and morning star, as well. Ideas which may illuminate scriptural aspects, and which may be illuminated by them.

Music to go along with these ideas, seasonal and otherwise --

Anticipation is one of the features of Advent. That’s an aspect Gretchen Peters expresses in two very different ways on her album Northern Lights in her songs Waitin’ on Mary and December Child. With people across the world thinking about or being refugees so much at this time, it’s a good time to take a listen to them both.

Carrie Newcomer’s music is always both reflective and thought provoking, and quite beautiful as well. On her album A Permeable Life the songs Light in the Window and Writing You a Letter speak to the aspects of travel and connection across distance that come with winter holidays. So, too, does the tile track of her European release The Slender Thread.

There’s joy in the anticipation and preparation as well as tenderness and reflection. Cherish the Ladies are great at expressing all these through their music. They have a new seasonal album out this year which they went to County Clare to record and have called Christmas in Ireland. Song, tune, and spoken word comprise the lively collection. If you might have a taste for seasonal music mostly in Irish, then check out the just released collection Amhráin Na Nollag: Favourite Christmas Songs in Irish from Róisín Elsafty and Ronan Browne with Tony Maher. In addition to spiritual classics including Don Oíche Úd I Mbeithil/ One Night on Bethlehem there are also seasonal favorites, among them that song about the reindeer, Rudolph Na Sróine Deirge.

Shannon Heaton recognized that she wasn’t a big fan of winter weather, but, having chosen to make her home in Boston, she decided to write a song that would help her remember the good things about deep winter. The result is Fine Winter's Night, in which she contrasts the beauty of cold night with its sparkling stars with warmth beckoning to fellowship and community within. It became the title track fro the seasonal album Shannon and her husband Matt made, which includes several fine originals in both song and tune, the Wexford Carol, which reaches back to twelfth century Ireland, and other fine songs new and old.

Take a listen to these musicians this Advent, and see how their perspectives might inform your celebrations and anticipations this season.

Photographs by Kerry Dexter. Thank you for respecting copyright.

You may also wish to see

First Week in Advent: music and quiet
Advent reflections and music
Music for Winter Travels and Celebrations at Wandering Educators
Wreaths, Music, Legend at Perceptive Travel

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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