11 We put the Christmas tree up yesterday, and did the other indoor holiday decorating tasks.

We even did some of the housework, though not all that needs to be done. Today I will be up at the store, and then at class, so I doubt that much more will be done today. Still, for inspiration, I offer you today’s song, “People Look East.”

This beautiful Advent carol was written by Eleanor Farjeon, who may be best known in the United States for “Morning Has Broken,” since Cat Stevens recorded it.  Farjeon used “Besancon,” a traditional French carol which ought to have a little twiddly bit under the C, but I don’t know how to do that on the computer.

Here is a guitar arrangement for it. Here you can hear it played on handbells.  Here is Michael Ekhblad’s arrangement of it, with some medieval-sounding percussion. I am not wild about this choir, but I learned last year that not everyone can listen to the little midi robots and arrange the music in their minds, so I figure it is better if you can actually hear it sung.

Here are the words: 11

People look East. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People look East, today:
Love the Guest is on the way.

Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People look East, today:
Love the Rose is on the way.

Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together. 11
People look East, today:
Love the Star is on the way.

Angels announce to man and beast
Him who cometh from the East.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the Word, the Lord is coming.
People look East, today:
Love the Lord is on the way.

I like this song as a reminder to get the chores done early in Advent so that we can have that Mary spirit rather than beingMarthas all season long. This is because it contains the words “Make your house fair as you are able; trim the hearth and set the table.”

However, it is also a good Christmas song for those pagan gatherings. There is plenty of nature imagery and light and stuff. You will notice that the refrain has lines like, “Love, the guest, is on the way” and even “Love, the Lord, is on the way.” Since it’s an Advent carol (the author said so), we assume that she meant Christ, and we sing this in church. However, it is pretty noncommittal.

11 I hope that you will avoid this sort of thing. Taking a Christmas carol and writing a bad pagan-themed pastiche of it is not only in poor taste, it is also entirely unnecessary. There are some good Yule songs out there that can be used as they are, I would think. “Deck the Halls,” “The Holly and the Ivy,”  “The Rising of the Sun,” all the wassailing stuff. If not, then I think you should writegood new poetry for the purpose, instead of just changing a few words and pretending it’s a Yule carol.

Seriously. If people don’t feel committed enough to their holidays to write good music for them, they shouldn’t get to have them at all.

Ivy is nearly complete. For the reasons mentioned above, I doubt this sweater will be completed today, but I think it will be this week, for sure.