Most Advent hymns remind me of waiting, stillness, and a deep but quiet sense of expectancy – a peaceful alternative to our noisy world and the busyness (and business) of this time of year. But with “People, Look East,” the jaunty triplet rhythm and fast-moving melody of this 17th century carol sound joyfully disruptive. We often delay singing carols until after Advent, yet here we literally have an Advent text set to the music of a carol.
But maybe a jaunty wake-up call is the best musical setting for Eleanor Farjeon’s message, urging us to get busy getting “oriented” during Advent –
Christians should ready their homes,
the ground nurture one more seed,
the birds watch their nests,
the stars shine more brightly,
the peaks and valleys hum…
and all of us resetting our orientation by fixing our gaze upon the east, so we won’t miss that sudden burst of life amid the cold winter; or that first stream of light over the horizon at sunrise; or that brightest star in the East – all proclaiming light in the darkness and Christ among us.
(oriens – Lat. “east”)
A Member of the Congregation