MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, November 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. This weekend marks the beginning of the season of Advent: The four weeks before Christmas set aside for faithful reflection and preparation.
Last year, we ended each of our Friday programs with an Advent music recording from college choirs and choral groups around the country.
BASHAM: This year, the tradition continues, but with a slight twist. Here’s World Radio’s Myrna Brown.
BALES: Father in heaven, thank you for this day. Thank you for what it means that we get to be together, to be with you.
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: Josh Bales is a 38-year-old Anglican priest, who grew up Southern Baptist.
BALES: I was kind of brought up to think of the word “ritual” as a negative thing. I never heard the word “advent.” I never knew what liturgical seasons meant. That’s probably one of the reasons why the seasons of the church year, like Advent or Lent, why they mean so much to me. I’m coming at it from a fresh place, I think.
SONG: Lift up your heads, lift up your heads, lift up your heads
In 2018, Bales recorded his rendition of the German Advent hymn, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye mighty Gates.” The hymn was written by Georg Weissel and first appeared in the 17th century. In 1855 Catherine Winkworth translated it into English.
It’s a reflection of Psalm 24:7. Bales says while the hymn personifies Israel’s anticipation of the Messiah, there’s also a 21st century application.
BALES: But we’re also preparing ourselves for an event that has yet to take place, the second coming of Jesus. And all of that gets wrapped up in Advent. So isn’t it crazy to sing with Israel from a Psalm, ‘Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates’ but now it has an utterly new layer of meaning on top of it.
Surrounded by Gothic-Revival architecture, Bales recorded himself at his church, the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida. On this project, Bales sings and plays piano, guitar, and banjo.
BALES: I basically keep up a root bass note, kind of the same all the way through the song. And it gives it a sense of tension and waiting and hoping. I think that speaks to me of the meaning of the song, too.
SONG: LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, YE MIGHTY GATES
BALES: Advent prepares us for Christmas the way Lent prepares us for Easter. And I find that if you don’t have that season of preparation, pausing and the waiting and hoping, then when Christmas day finally gets here, it’s simply not as special.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Myrna Brown.