It is the first Sunday of Advent, the time of waiting, watching, hoping, praying, and preparing our hearts for Christmas.

Today’s song is “O Come, Divine Messiah,”a very traditional Advent hymn by Simon-Joseph Pellegrin, a French Abbe of the Renaissance.

1 O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Refrain:
Dear Savior, haste! Come, come to earth.
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
O come, Divine Messiah,
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

2 O come Desired of nations,
Whom priest and prophet long foretold,
Will break the captive fetters,
Redeem the long-lost fold. [Refrain]

3 O come in peace and meekness,
For lowly will your cradle be:
Though clothed in human weakness
We shall your God-head see. [Refrain]

The translation is by Sister Mary of St. Philip, nee Mary Frances Lescher (1825-1904). This hymn is better known in Catholic circles, but it’s very pretty and carries the standard Advent message. 

It’s quite a message. The world waits in silent suffering for the Messiah who will break the chains and bring hope to all.

Is this what Christmas does for us? Is this what Christ does for us when we seek Him? Is this what the Second Coming of Christ will look like? We feel dismayed and helpless in the face of the problems of the world even if we don’t have much silent suffering going on. We rarely suffer silently anyway,  and those of us who are suffering don’t expect Christmas to solve those problems.

The New Republic suggests that Christmas is responsible for many of those problems. If so, we’re doing it wrong. Advent is a time to get ready to do it right. We should indulge a little less, give a little more, contemplate the Trinity instead of obsessing over competitive baking or conspicuous giving.

I like to have most of my worldly  holiday preparation done before Advent begins. That way I don’t spend Advent shopping.