Friday, December 28, 2007

Each Winter as the Year Grows Older

By William & Annabeth Gay

Each winter as the year grows older,
We each grow older too.
The chill sets in a little colder;
The verities we knew
Seem shaken and untrue.

When race and class cry out for treason,
When sirens call for war,
They overshout the voice of reason
And scream till we ignore
All we held dear before.

Yet I believe beyond believing,
That life can spring from death:
That growth can flower from our grieving;
That we can catch our breath
And turn transfixed by faith.

So even as the sun is turning
To journey to the north,
The living flame, in secret burning,
Can kindle on the earth
And bring God's love to birth.

O Child of ecstasy and sorrows,
O Prince of peace and pain,
Brighten today's world by tomorrow's,
Renew our lives again;
Lord Jesus, come and reign!*


* I am unable to let this post stand without stubbornly pointing out that the last stanza isn't, in fact, a call for a triumphalist conqueror; that there's a beautifully oxymoronic quality to longing for the reign of a person who rejected traditional power so thoroughly that he even declined to resist his own torture and death; that the "reign" of such a God will be almost unimaginably different than what we expect a "reign" to look like; that it's an inverted picture of a kingdom, percolating from the bottom up rather than pontificating from the top down, beginning from the poorest and saddest and least...

Keeping all that in mind, this is a song that makes my throat close up a bit every time I hear it.