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@Thoughts on Advent

An original post on Twitter: Four hours later and we are still singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel. How many verses are in this song, anyway? (@UnvirtuousAbbey)

Some of the responses:

  • Actually you're not supposed to start singing this song until December 17th. Then it's one verse a day through December 23rd. It's called the O Antiphons. Each day's verse is the Gospel antiphon for that day. It's never too long. Tradition has its reasons: always anticipation. (@meg_in_richmond)

  • Depends. Do you have all 73 volumes of the hymnal? (@MikeHasty4)

  • and the worst is when the organist plays it like a dirge (@gramasally)

  • O, Come, O Come: verse 87 'distracted':

How long, how long, this Advent carol hell?

O, look - is that a Pippistrelle...

bat, flying past the Brigadier?

Not sure, the light in here's so drear.

By choice, my voice would bid this hymn farewell:

I'm ready for a pint of Zinfandel. (@Nik_M_Macdonald)

  • I dunno. I'm ready for a new wave of, 'when I'm done w the singing, I'ma sitting down'. When enough sitters outnumber standers, time to close up the piano lid. (@yknot05)

  • Another verse:

O come, repeat this song till Christ is nigh.

Repeat the verses far and wide

If e'er we stop, it all falls apart.

So find the chorus, and all do your part.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Another verse is done!

Let's sing until Emmanuel comes! (@aprilfiet)

  • About 3,729 verses. Complete with different descants to every 23rd verse. (@mcb200)

  • Just slightly shorter than "Hail Thee Festival Day". (@ECWRiter)

  • Is this the religious version of 100 Green Bottles? Should it be saved for a road trip perhaps? (@tintinaus)

  • I have no idea, but a Lutheran we sing every damned one of them (@LauraMcAfee1)

  • Has to be the most mournful expression of rejoice I've ever heard (@rmoore615)

My thoughts: The first response was actual information. Then, it was time for fun! The last comment caught my attention. I had noticed on Sunday that a lot of the music we were singing was in the minor mode. I love music in minor, but it can sound mournful rather than hopeful. I'll have to be more aware this season. Does minor mode heighten the anticipation? Do we notice the different when we shift into major mode for our Christmas music?

Also from Twitter:

Hey, preschool and public school educators. Just a reminder that not every kid celebrates Christmas, and you have a lot of choices about how you run your classroom in the next month that can keep them from feeling like crap.

My biggest preference as a parent of a non-Christian would be NOT TO DO CHRISTMAS IN CLASS. Why? Whyyyy do you need to? The kids are getting plenty from family and the surrounding culture. Talk snowmen, snow, hot chocolate if you want to be seasonal. Why bring in holy days?

If you MUST do Christmas something or other, keep it proportional. You really, truly don't need to decorate your classroom or give away candy canes. (Again, your classroom can have snowflakes or whatever, why the reindeer.)

You could do a unit on every holiday tradition -- one day on Christmas, another day Hanukah, another Diwali, Kwanzaa, etc. There are no major Muslim holidays now but it looks like Malwid just happened? Ask a Muslim parent what would be best. Make sure every kid in class is repped.

(Also teach your kid about holy days and traditional that are not repped in class. Give them the tools to be empathetic, loving and useful in a pluralistic society.)

But remember. Not every kid has gifts this time of year. Or a festive anything. Some of them have no faith traditions, or are on a different timetable than the American cultural one. Those kids might feel left out and cruddy if you make a fuss about some kids' GIFT HOLIDAY.


A very small and selected sampling of the responses:

  • Yes Chanukah is not the Jewish Xmas. Had to explain this all my life (@rounderstudio)

  • Remember that even some Christian denominations do not celebrate Christmas. My cousin made the mistake of letting a Santa come to school. The Jehovah's Witness kids were terrified, having been told he was an agent of the devil. (@HieronymusMcG)

  • My pet peeve - teachers asking all the children in class to write a letter to Santa. They assume it's secular and not offensive to anyone - Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheists and Christians who don't do Santa or Christmas (Jehovah Witness for example) (@JayPako)

  • Christians have to work very hard to properly celebrate Christmas. Mostly it is just a commercial bun fight. (@RowanHarwood)

  • I'll never forget being in 2nd grade & as the class was making Easter Baskets, suggesting to the teacher that I thought we should do something for Passover too & being told if I didn't like the Easter baskets I could go sit in the corner by myself. (@E20Launderette)

  • They should count their blessings Jewish kids don't spend all our time telling their kids that their parents are lying to them about Santa existing. (@Elana_Brooklyn)

My thoughts: Our sons' Boy Scout Troop sold poinsettias as a fundraiser. At troop meetings there would be a big push to get the kids to go out and sell the flowers. I will never forget the year that a Jewish boy in the troop was in tears because he didn't understand why these flowers were so important.

It comes down to the fact that we need to listen and be aware of what's going on around us. We all have different traditions and holidays that are important to us. Our neighbors may do things differently. That doesn't make anyone right or wrong. It does provide an opportunity for us to listen to each other.

And speaking of listening: Did you notice in the worship bulletin that there was space for you to write notes about the sermon, so that each month you can ask questions of the pastor in a sermon talk-back program? That's going to be hard for me. I don't listen well, my mind drifts after a few minutes of listening to someone talk (sorry Jason). But this may be a good step to practice listening thoughtfully.

- Ann Warner

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