The neverending song

John at Primary School

John writes: When were singing carols just before midnight on Christmas Eve, some of the words took me back to my childhood in primary school. As a kid, I sang these very lines: remembered syllables which recalled the classroom smell of poster-paint and glue and the sweet-smelling wooden pencil-case. Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Lo he abhors not the virgin’s womb.

I suppose every Christmas since then I have encountered these words and melodies. My understanding of these songs has changed and deepened, but still the same songs are sung.

Poets and writers have enriched both our thinking and experience by using the metaphor of God as a divine singer, singing the universe into existence, singing a song of grace and forgiveness, and inviting us to join in.

God has sung this divine song since before the beginning of time, and throughout history women and men have always sensed something of its beauty: for a few, it was if they were sitting at the heart of a choir of angels; for many it was wistfully catching a few sweet, elusive notes deep in the forest of life.

And then, in Bethlehem, the singer came to earth, and humanity heard the song so much more clearly. We realised that there was pain in the notes as well as beauty.  And the singer invited us to join in.

Down through the ages, from the Primary classroom of humanity the same song has been sung, though people’s understanding of it has grown and developed with the passage of time.

And as the carols on Monday night took me back into a classroom 60 years ago, so the song takes us back to the beginning, but it also takes us forward in spirit into a place yet-to-be.

This melody is the ‘cantus firmus’ – the fixed song – which sustains us, and sustains the universe, through light and darkness, joy and sorrow. It’s the song which carries us from the past to the future; the song in which discords are duly heard and resolved into the texture of the music; the song which draws us, draws us ever forwards towards the heart of God which is our home.

It is the song which sings us.

It is the song of God’s love.

May this ‘fixed song’  sustain us and bless us in the coming year, whatever it brings. And may the beauty of God’s music be heard in us, be it ever so faintly, by those we meet from day to day.

O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

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