NOTE: Part 2 is now available here.
One of the challenges of the month of December (for me, at least) is not skipping ahead to Christmas. My brain is focused on travel plans; how I’ll make my money stretch to purchase gifts for my loved ones; and seemingly endless ads trying to convince me of what I should be having and doing.
But I want to be living (at least internally) in the spirit of Advent, one where I’m waiting for the Christ to be born in this world, where I’m living in the present in a state of hopeful expectation. It’s kind of a delayed suspension, where I’m making my house ready for a Presence that is not-yet and already here.
In this spirit of waiting, I offer two songs that I composed about Mary, the mother of Christ. Both songs are about what happens before Christ’s arrival. This first one comes from my 2009 album, From This Place. I originally wrote the piece for a lessons and carols service in 1998 at All Angels’ Church in NYC. In this traditional Advent service, various scripture passages are followed by corresponding musical responses. This three-part women’s a cappella piece was composed as a response to the story in which an angel announces to Mary that she will bear the Christ child.
And here are the lyrics:
The angel said the Lord is with me:
The Lord is with me in a way he’s never been before;
His Spirit is my lover, his son shall fill my womb
With holiness and joy
And with life that I can feel kicking at my insides.
The Lord will stay with me in a way he’s never stayed before;
He will suckle at my breast and let me hold him in my arms.
He will run to me when he cuts his finger
Or wonders aloud at his Father’s creation in a brightly colored butterfly.
Oh, who is this child Lord who comes from up above,
Whose eyes will look beyond my own to a destiny I do not know?
Oh, who is this God boy whose hands shall clasp mine
And whose tears I shall wipe away with trembling fingers of my own?
The Lord will leave me in a way he’s never left before;
As a king whose time has come, as a son his mother loved,
As a boy whose laughter has filled my heart
And as a baby whose tears I have cried as if they were my own.
The angel said the Lord is with me.
Music and text © 1998 Deanna Witkowski/Tilapia Tunes/BMI. All Rights Reserved.
The three vocalists on this track are Deanna Witkowski, Laila Biali, and Kate McGarry.
A second song about Mary, “My Soul Proclaims,” will be posted next week.