Calm and ancient, a blunted beast
strolls along the verge.
It slowly gathers, in quiet and time,
blades to sate its bulk:
leath'ry walls, frightening mass all
caked in mud and strength.
(October 2020, December 2021)
“Diamonds on the hills reflect the thrillJosh Garrels – Gloria
of all the glory that has fallen to the Earth”
It’s the week of Reformation Day, but for the past fortnight I’ve had Christmas Carols in my fingers and on my voice. We’ve set our church’s inaugural Carols service for the 4th of December, so I’ve been getting into song lists for our congregation to sing together. Amidst the busyness of October I feel like I’ve received an early quiet Christmas gift – a delight of enjoying the melodies and lyrics of much loved songs that have been maturing in stillness throughout the year.
Some of my favourite Christmas songs include some poetic ones which aren’t ideal for corporate worship, but whose imagery is lovely. On Josh Garrels’ album “The Light Came Down” is a song called “Gloria“, which includes vivid imagery of a snowy North American Christmas. It’s a strange, vicarious memory for anyone whose experience of Christmas is usually marked by sweltering heat and the smells of sea and sunblock. But back to the snowy song.
Garrels has an amazing way of showing the listener what he has seen. Diamonds on the hills – the twinkling windows lit up with celebrations, reflecting the joy in those houses, the glorious thrill of the incarnate Christ. The arrangement of Gloria has marvelous prosody, with steady, growing excitement and solid punctuations of certainty. Toward the end of the song, the choir grows in overlaid praise, and the percussion quickens, enjoying a great exhilaration, before ending in rest and peace.
That’s the glory those lights reflect. Let’s commit to that attitude of worship as we put up our lights, and as we observe the divers decorations around us. Our adornments are about that thrill of hope for which the weary world rejoices. As the album’s title track says, “The Light Came Down“. May our houses and facets reflect Him.