Help, I’ve already had two Christmas lunches and a carol service and Christmas is still three weeks away. I suppose it doesn’t matter that much – not one has died as a result of not keeping Advent. However, it was suggested that perhaps we get so caught up with Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ first coming, that we lose sight of the other meaning of Advent. As well as looking forward to Christmas there is looking forward to Jesus’ return, his second coming, just as he promised. I sense (and this includes me) that many Christians may well nod in agreement with the idea of Jesus’ return and yet. And yet, while we may still be waiting, we have given up expecting him.
So as a reminder to myself I re-read this old Advent hymn. It was written around 500 years ago by John Milton. As with all poetry, it is better read (or sung) out loud.
The Lord will come and not be slow,
his footsteps cannot err;
before him righteousness shall go,
his royal harbinger.
Truth from the earth, like to a flower,
shall bud and blossom then;
and justice, from her heavenly bower,
look down on mortal men.
Rise, God, judge thou the earth in might,
this wicked earth redress;
for thou art he who shalt by right
the nations all possess.
The nations all whom thou hast made
shall come, and all shall frame
to bow them low before thee, Lord,
and glorify thy name.
For great thou art, and wonders great
by thy strong hand are done:
thou in thy everlasting seat
remainest God alone.
John Milton, the elder (c.1563–1647) based on verses from Psalms 82, 85, 86
from “Ancient & Modern”, no. 51