The enduring melody of Christmas

Our reflection for December comes from Nigel Uden, Moderator of the General Assembly.

I’m as sure as I can be that I would not be what I am now had I not first been a chorister and an organist. For well over fifty years, I have best heard the Christian message through music. More than anything else, it’s music that has encouraged me to Walk the Way.

Music is at its best for me when there is harmony, rhythm and tune. Harmony sings of the essential place of relationship within the body of Christ, and within the Trinity. Rhythm, with its intimations of unrelenting pulse, is a particular way of sensing life. Tune, though, is most crucial. Little lifts my spirit more than joining in with an expansive tune, which sometimes can lift us on eagle’s wings.

The best tunes, though, are those that help us to explore and discover what Michael Mayne calls the ‘enduring melody’ – the eternal song of God’s grace and truth. It’s the song of where we come from, it’s who we are, and it is the theme-tune our hope. As we prepare again to celebrate one of the most arresting renditions of that enduring melody – the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season – I offer a set of words I penned a while ago, in order to marry music to what I believe, and to what I aspire to live.

God of love’s enduring melody –
soaring high and running deep,
stirring, touching, healing, bringing home,
an wholehearted love, vast in sweep –
to the tune of your breath-taking grace
help us add the counterpoint of faith,
each responding to the gift we trace
in the melody of your Son.

God, your love’s enduring melody,
sketched before the world was new,
has a variation for today,
freshly taking us into you.
As we sing your grace notes we are led,
fresh motifs discovering through each other;
improvising on th’eternal thread
in the melody of your Son.

God of love’s enduring melody,
heard in cradle and on tree,
we will echo here the angels’ song
by our radical harmony.
In the world of dissonance and need
we’ll live symphonies of your shalom,
giving passionate voice in word and deed
to the melody of your Son.

Tune: Lark in the Clear Air – Irish traditional (New Church Praise 105)

With Derek Estill I offer warm greetings for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.