And so Advent arrives. The Christian year is complete, and the cycle of story and parable, song and prayer, starts over again.
I welcomed Advent this evening after dark by singing an Advent I Vigil Mass at the Church of Saint Michael and Saint George in Clayton. Then I dined with colleagues from the choir, stuffing myself in chips and salsa before the chimichanga arrived.
I shall abed early tonight, as the day has been a long one.
We have all had times on the mount, when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and have wanted to stay there; but God will never allow us to stay there. The test of our spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, something is wrong. It is a great thing to be on the mount with God, but a man only gets there in order that afterwards he may get down among the devil-possessed and lift them up. We are not built for the mountains and the dawns and aesthetic affinities, those are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.
Well . . . ’tis really the long continuation of the week.
Friday. New-student auditions. A dozen wanna-be music majors. Quite fun day. Teach class and a voice lesson, and take 7 quick meetings. Attend Faculty Composers Concert. Sing premiere of my “Three Teasdale Songs” with oboe. Home at 9.30.
Saturday. Out the door at 9. Produce the rehearsal for A Gift to the City, Webster University’s annual holiday concert. Dash to school to play piano for and music direct a staged reading of Spring Awakening with Conservatory kids. Maybe home for a few minutes. At church by 4 for the Advent I Vigil Mass, singing in lots of Latin in plainsong and four-part polyphony. Maybe attend Yours, Anne at school tonight, depending on my weariness factor.
Sunday. Advent I services at church, including “O thou, the central orb,” one of my favorite anthems. A couple of hours off then. At the cathedral by 1 for A Gift to the City with a 2 p.m. start time. Dash to church for rehearsal and service of Advent Lessons and Carols. Restive reception follows. I should be home by 7 p.m.
This means three 10-hours-of-‘on’-time days in a row. Monday will be a 14-hour day. Tuesday will feel like vacation in comparison.
I thought several years ago that when I stopped singing so much, and conducting so much, my Advent season would slow. But this weekend every semester is a full one, since it’s the last weekend before the last week of class, and we go dark during the last ten days of the semester to allow students rest and focus on studies and juries.