The season of Christmas is nearing its end and we continue to celebrate – singing our way into the new year. This is one of the oldest carols I know, the tune going back to at least 1305. The words are thought to have been written by Heinrich Seuse around 1328. The story goes that he encountered angels singing these words and joined with them in a joyful dance. It seemed an appropriate way to approach the new year. Full of joy and dancing with angels.
In dulci jubilo,
Nun singet und seid froh!
Unsers Herzens Wonne
Leit in praesepio;
Und leuchtet wie die Sonne
Matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O!
These words are all about how now that our hearts’ joy lies in the manger, we rejoice sweetly with singing while this baby shines like the sun, the beginning and the end of all things. The promise of this child clear and something to be celebrated with enthusiasm.
What is this promise? There is much written on this subject. I am no theologian, so won’t even attempt to weed through it all, or even understand the varying positions, descriptions, interpretations, dogmas and theses. When I look at the words and music I’ve been thinking about throughout this season, I come back to the advent themes. Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. Four simple ideas. Four powerful words. Four pieces that together make up one enormous promise. A promise of what our world could be. Hope for all that is good. Peace for all that live. Joy to share generously. Love to encircle us in its warm embrace. These need not be matters of complicated or divisive theology. These need not be owned by a few or reserved for the approved. These are fundamental human choices that we can all commit to, that we can all engage in, that we can all receive.
As we enter a new year, let us sing and dance with the angels. Look for them – they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are religious. Some are not. Some are beautiful. Some are sad. Some are weary. Some are boundless. Some are us. Some are them. What I know for sure, is we need to both welcome them and become them; receiving and giving. For at the beginning and the end of all things, we are hope, peace, joy and love.
In dulci jubilo.