Advent Sings in a Minor Key

Advent sings in a minor key,
Out of oppressive history,
“O Come, O Come, Immanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,”
Anticipating a Christmas day,
When deepest shadows flee away.

Advent sings in a minor key,
A yearning for lost liberty.
Soldiers ravage and no one sleeps,
Infants die and Rachel weeps,
With no hope of consolation,
No comfort for an exiled nation.

Advent sings in a minor key
An ambiguous nativity.
From Promised Land a family flees
for Egypt safe—what ironies!—
where Israel once was hostage;
and boys were slain in land of bondage.

Advent sings in a minor key,
From depths of woeful misery.
Loud laments and flood-like tears,
For a kingdom that never nears,
Which seems neither “now,” nor “not yet”;
Shall we still play, or shall we forfeit?

Advent sings in a minor key,
For fear that Christmas will not be.
A dead Messiah; did he really rise?
Did he really ascend to the skies?
Ages roll, mockers mock shrill;
Millennia pass, we’re in exile still.

Advent sings in a minor key,
Frustrating those who want to see
Only “goodness and light,” and only hear
Major chords to soothe the ear.
Redemption nears, Noel brings treasure,
But only after dis-“chord”ant measure.

Advent sings in a minor key,
Perhaps the way it ought to be,
For the Child will cause both rise and fall,
A sword will pierce, dividing all,
Until Advent takes its second form,
And New Jerusalem comes heaven-borne.

And even then, I can only wonder
If there’ll be room for us to ponder
The bitter herbs and the frightful plight,
When all seemed lost that dreadful night,
And nostalgia, in the service of praise,
Recalls the mournful, hopeless days.
Perhaps even then, in victory,
Advent will sing in a minor key.

Jerry Shepherd
December 8, 2015

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