The following is an Advent song from my church's Lessons & Carols service. I've been thinking lately about what makes a good Advent song. Of course, there is the aesthetic beauty both in the musical and lyrical composition. In terms of content, though, the best Advent songs are those that refuse to be merely "Christmas" songs. They decline to focus exclusively on Jesus as the cute little baby in the manger. They demur from trite sentimentality and a vague notion of "Jesus is here so now we're all happy." Instead, the best Advent songs portray the Incarnation in the context of a bigger story, one of sin and salvation, death and triumph over death. They stress that this story is one in which every person is a character. These characters may not respond with detached neutrality; rather, the songs call every hearer to the only proper role in the story - worship.
All This Night My Heart Rejoices
All my heart this night rejoices
As I hear far and near sweetest angel voices.
"Christ is born," their choirs are singing
Till the air ev'rywhere now with joy is ringing.
Forth today the Conqu'ror goeth,
Who the foe, sin and woe, hell and death o'erthroweth.
God is man, man to deliver;
His own Son now is one with our blood forever.
Shall we still dread God's displeasure,
Who, to save, freely gave his most cherished Treasure?
To redeem us, he hath given
His own Son from the throne of his might in heaven.
He becomes the Lamb that taketh
Sin away and for aye full atonement maketh.
For our life his own he tenders;
And our race, by his grace, meet for glory renders.
Dearest Lord, Thee will I cherish.
Though my breath fail in death, yet I shall not perish.
But with thee abide forever
There on high, in that joy which can vanish never.