This year as we journey through Advent each Sunday we will sing selected verses of the beloved Christmas Carol “People, Look East” for the Gradual Hymn.  “Love,” in turn, is defined as “Guest,” “Rose,” “Bird,” “Star,” and “Lord.”

Key images of the season are abundant.  “People, Look East” is the direction of the rising sun and, in the history of Christianity, the direction of the coming Messiah.  In stanza two, the bare earth is waiting for the seed that will flourish in the reign of the Promised One. The birds, in stanza three, guard the nest that must be filled.  In stanza four, the stars that guided the Magi shape the “bowl” of the heavens, giving signs of hope beyond “the frosty weather.”  The angels’ song, in stanza five, sets “every peak and valley humming,” an oblique reference to Isaiah 40:4, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low. . .”

Singing this carol is indeed one way to prepare both our homes and hearts for the coming of the Savior.