NICK EICHER, HOST: Once again, we’re ending our program week with music. Today our featured selection is not technically an Advent hymn, but a Christmas carol.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: It’s a holiday classic that’s giving one family of musicians a chance to pause and ponder over one of the most important questions of Advent.
Here’s WORLD Radio’s Myrna Brown.
AUDIO: INSTRUMENTS TUNING
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: With bows up and chins down, a string ensemble tunes their instruments.
ANNIE WOLAVER DUPREE: My name is Annie and I’m a violinist.
GRETCHEN WOLAVER: My name is Gretchen and I play the violin, mandolin and guitar.
GERONE: My name is Gerone and I’m playing the viola.
BENJAMIN: My name is Benjamin and I play the cello.
Benjamin, Gretchen, and Annie are siblings and part of the Wolaver family. They started making music together 15 years ago as the Annie Moses Band. Annie Wolaver says Annie Moses was her great- grandmother.
ANNIE: She started the whole legacy of faith and family and music.
But this Nashville, Tennessee family hasn’t always observed the season of Advent.
ANNIE: I remember kind of all of a sudden becoming aware in my twenties that there was something called the church calendar and it was deeper than just, oh there’s Easter Sunday and Christmas Sunday.
After that insight, Benjamin Wolaver says the band began exploring the music of Advent.
MUSIC: WHAT CHILD IS THIS
BENJAMIN: What the season of Advent invites us to do is to meditate on what’s about to happen and what child was this? I think of almost any song, this kind of literally asks that question, you know, what child is this?
Written in 1865 by British poet, William C. Dix, “What Child Is This” was sung to the tune of Greensleeves, a traditional English folk song. Dix wrote the song, about the birth of Christ, while recovering from a long illness that left him bedridden. Hours of solitude and silence inspired the Christmas carol. Benjamin says, those spiritual disciplines also played a key role in their arrangement.
BENJAMIN: Our father made that arrangement. He was really good at creating a lot of space and a lot of silence in the arrangement. So, I think in our noisy culture we tend to overlook the silence. We overlook the pause and Advent is the silence before the song of Christmas.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Myrna Brown, reporting from Franklin, Tennessee.