Advent is coming – what do I do now? How do I “prepare”?

As your Minister of Music, I actually have a very specific musical instruction this week: please take a few minutes to become more familiar with this Sunday’s Processional Hymn, Hymn 6, “Jesus Comes with Clouds Descending!” Here are a few videos of this hymn being sung enthusiastically by choir and congregation:

From First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska



From Ely Cathedral, England



From St. Peter’s Church, Columbia, South Carolina



From Christ Church Cathedral, Nassau, Bahamas (no snow there on Christmas!)



After you watch one of these videos, you will have noted that the traditional title of this hymn is actually “Lo, He Come with Clouds Descending” — this text was slightly modified by the editors of our current hymnal, and a stanza was removed. You will also note that the hymn text is not sung to the tune “St. Thomas,” which we have sung often in the past. Rather, these videos are recordings of the elegant and stately tune “Helmsley,” which goes back to the year 1763. If you would like to know more about this hymn (text and tune), I would refer to the Wikipedia article, which concludes with a reference to Queen Victoria’s esteem for “Helmsley.”

As a second order of business — need I remind you of how extraordinary an event this Sunday’s Tallis Scholars concert will be? As of my writing this blog, they are performing in Brazil. The two concerts that surround ours (New York and Washington) have sold out. Later in December, they will sing in Boston, Indianapolis, Chicago, and London. So don’t miss this wonderful and inspiring opportunity to “prepare the way” right here at River Road Church on Sunday evening.

Written by Bob Gallagher