For well more than fifty years, Advent has been one of my favorite seasons of the church year. I was in high school when I read Maria von Trapp’s book Around the Year with the Trapp Family Singers and learned of the Austrian custom of singing around the Advent wreath on Sunday afternoons, ending with a little tea…….Or learned that Advent Hymns and Christmas carols are not the same things…
When my children were growing up (and actually, from the time Paul and I married, and before there were any children to share this custom) we also sang English Christmas carols and Hungarian Advent and Christmas songs on Sunday afternoons. We made family song sheets and everyone really loved this custom. It had been more difficult to accomplish this in recent years, especially with Emily’s family so far away, but now they are close and tomorrow, the first Sunday of Advent, we will be gathering at her home to sing….I can hardly wait.
I began this post a few days ago and we’ve already had the first Advent singing at Em’s…….It was preceeded by some cookies and tea which Ingmar said was his family’s custom, though I’m not sure this helped us get our singing voices and we certainly need all the help we can get. We are not the Trapp Family, alas!
Then we sat in a circle and the wreath with four white candles and one lit was on a table beside Ingmar. We go around the circle and each person takes a turn to choose the song from our Jalics family Songbook, a work in progress for more than the last 30 years! We have songs in English, German and Hungarian.
Some are upbeat and the children seem to like these best, songs such as O Du Froeliche and Deck the Halls……For Jingle Bells Emily handed out bells for us to ring. Some are songs that were beloved by family members who are no longer with us, such as Fel Nagy Oromre which was the favorite of my husband Paul’s father. Or O Little Town of Bethlehem which my grandfather Art Granat liked very much. We never get every song in the songbook, but we give it a good try!
Sunday, besides being the first Sunday of Advent was also the name day of my son Andrew, the feast day of Andrew the apostle, the fisherman. Paul and I wanted names which would be good in both English and Hungarian. In Hungarian Andy’s name is Andras. (pronounced “Awn drahsh”.)
I find myself struggling to accomplish much of anything during these days of ever diminishing daylight, and there is a lot to do…….Many Christmas cards need to be written, and though I no longer decorate the least bit compared to what I once did, there are still many things waiting to happen! The nativity set, the tree, little things set about to remind us that the season of Advent and Christmas is coming…….I need to put out the books I read and look at this time of year….I need to cultivate a certain emptiness in myself to make room for the coming of Love into the world. Et Verbum Caro Factum Est.
If you go to this link http://www.amazon.com/dp/0870612409/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=33854793835&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12329148069911349716&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_115o7rr5o1_b#reader_0870612409 and click on the image of the book The Reed of God you will be able to scroll down til you come to the pages on “Emptiness” which I have pretty much read every Advent since I was a sophomore in high school and Sister Gabriella recommended the book to me…..