Given that it is the end of Advent and we are just days away from Christmas, given the title of this post, perhaps your mind immediately conjured up “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” That wasn’t what I intended, but so that one might not be disappointed, I can at least offer several choices of YouTube videos of the classic Christmas hymn:
That would certainly offer enough variety and cover a rang of musical tastes. But, as I mentioned, not what I had in mind.
What I had in mind was from today’s first reading – “Hark! my lover–here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.” (Song of Songs 2:8) This reading is one of the options for the first reading at a wedding. When it is chosen, as the presider, it is always fun to watch the reader during the rehearsal and on the wedding day itself. So often, it is a friend of the groom who is the reader. Its kinda’ fun to watch them, Their first reaction is “seriously…you want me to read this out loud… why did you pick this?” Then as they read, they imagine their friend, the groom, springing across hill and vale towards his bride. They are imagining a scene from a poorly written movie or a commercial for some fragrance…. and trying hard not to laugh.
You might wonder why would someone select that reading. And I have to admit, I often recommend the reading to couples. In part to watch the reader wrestle with the opening verses, but mainly for the power of the closing verses of the reading. In the wedding version, the reading quickly skips over many verses and joins the opening verses with this:
“Set me as a seal your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For Love is strong as Death, longing is fierce as Sheol. Its arrows are arrows of fire, flames of the divine. Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away.” (Song of Songs 8:6-7a)
Such is the love that comes to us in the Nativity of Our Lord. Hark! indeed.