This week was the third week of Advent, and our songs were gathered around the theme of joy. Below, you’ll find the list of the songs and artists. Clicking the song titles will take you to the lyrics. Below the songs, there is an example of one way you might think of these songs in light of this week's theme. If you want to talk about any of these, feel free to comment at the bottom of this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the Poor and Powerless by All Sons & Daughters
Hope (There Will Come A Light) by ubcmusic
Peace (Change Everything) by ubcmusic
Joy (Brightest) by ubcmusic
Make This Go On Forever (Refrain) by Snow Patrol
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
How They Fit In:
There are many ways to think about the significance of songs and the way they fit together–-this is simply one way you can look at these songs in light of this week’s theme.
All the Poor and Powerless: I've pointed out before that this song can come off as insubstantial and/or repetitive. The chorus basically just repeats "everyone will praise God," and the bridge basically just repeats "grab a megaphone and tell everyone who God is." I don't think there's any serious problem with the content of these lines, but their repetition feels like it drains their potency. But here's the thing. The verses of the songs create or portrait in which the people for whom this is good news are the poor, the feeble, the underrepresented, the depressed, the complacent, the ones at the end of their rope; and over/against these seemingly hopeless states of being, we find a God who has neither forgotten nor abandoned them. The hallelujah's of this song are what we might think of as "cold and broken hallelujah's"--praises that come from places we might not expect--and since these praises are directed toward the God who loves and is redeeming a fallen world, we find in this song a portrait of joy. This is the stubborn joy that comes along with fixing one's eyes on the faithfulness of God, that refuses to be swayed by our circumstances or our emotions. It's a joy that can coexist just fine in peace and in chaos, in contentment and depression.
Hope (There Will Come A Light): I wrote this song a couple of years ago for the first week of Advent. A few months ago, I wrote songs for all the other weeks, too, so we will sing the whole series of songs over the next few weeks. I recently recorded some video sessions of these songs with some friends in Austin. The video for this song has been posted here.
Peace (Change Everything): This is a song that voices a longing for peace. More accurately, this song voices a longing for several different kinds of peace: peace from existential despair, physical violence and threats, less tangible violence and threats that exist in our minds, and the threats that accompany the natural processes that carry our bodies from birth to death. We'll be singing this song a few more times this month, so feel free to listen to it again here.
Joy (Brightest): This song contemplates the strange nature of the joy we find in Advent--it's a joy that puts our feeble expectations of joy to shame in a way that might be considered destructive. The good news we await on Christmas day just might be bad news for certain aspects of ourselves. I've been more reserved in the descriptions I've offered of the Advent songs as a whole, and this has been intentional. I feel like you could take these songs in many different ways--especially when you take them all together--so I would prefer instead just to direct you to listen to these songs and read the lyrics and think about them for yourselves. As always, you can email me or comment at the bottom of the page if you want to talk about them further. The video of this song is available here.
Make This Go On Forever (Reprise): We once again closed this week's advent song with this reprise from the end of a great Snow Patrol song (spoiler alert: we'll do this next week and the week after as well). The point is to voice the longing that we live in during Advent: while we may not understand how it will happen or when it will happen, we know that God is the One who can save us from this present darkness.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel: We sang this song because of the way it marries rejoicing with the hope of peace/reconciliation, which incorporates every Advent theme through which we've journeyed thus far.
Doxology: We close our time together each week with this proclamation that God is worthy of praise from every inch of the cosmos.