Joyce Mancinelli
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Today we celebrated the third Sunday in Advent by lighting the candle of joy, the pink one. The one that is supposed to bring a little light into the long darkness of winter. And we sang Christmas carols. Joy to the World. Silent Night. In the Bleak Midwinter.

The latter title sort of sums up the way I feel about Advent. Bleak. Dull. Personally, I have little sense of excitement about the coming Christmas Season and I tried to work out why this was so. Perhaps it's the purple hangings.  (memo to self: see if we can make blue ones for next year!) Purple and dark and sorrowful...well suited to Lent. Perhaps it is the utter dearth of inspirational Advent hymns in any of my books. I mean, O come, o come Emmanuel is not the height of musical achievement.  (I apologize if I have jumped on your most favourite hymn in the whole world.)

In the past I've worked with priests who threw up their hands in horror at the very idea of singing a--gasp!--Christmas carol before the 25th. Actually they were willing to sanction carols on Christmas Eve as we don't have a Christmas Day service...but, thank goodness, some of the congregation revolted and demanded we sing somthing more uplifting hence today's selections.

But I think perhaps it is, for me, the whole secularization of the Christmas season. Christmas decorations in Costo long before Thanksgiving. Relentless ads telling us what we 'need' this Christmas. Segments on the news explaining ways to score the hottest toys for your children, lest you should be thought a lesser parent if you don't have said item under the tree. Then, as the real Christmas season begins, it's time for the after Christmas sales and the removal of the tree which is now shedding needles on the carpet. Sing Christmas carols through into January? Not in the secular world.

So...how to bring back the anticipation of Advent. To imbue it with a real sense of the coming miracle. I don't have an answer, but I think it would help if we could develop some really great Advent hymns. Remember the hymn written by Don Grayston which we sing every St. Oswald's Day? Take a well known tune and add some relevant words.

So how about it? Polish up the inner poet and let's see what we can do....