Advent Interludes

Christmas music performed by Fr. Teresio Caldwell, O.S.B., piano, Br. Anselm Flores, O.S.B., violin, and Br. Charles Gonzalez, O.S.B., drums

The soundtrack of Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas has become a favorite at Christmastime. His jazzy versions of traditional Christmas songs and original compositions highlight both the sacred elements of Christ’s birth as well as the sentimental aspects and cultural traditions that surround the season.

Christmas is Coming 

The syncopated notes and the driving drum beat say that something big and exciting is going to happen!

My Little Drum

This is a jazzy twist on the traditional sacred tune, The Little Drummer Boy. One can imagine the drummer boy coming to offer not material gifts, but his gift of music for the newborn King.

Christmas Time is Here

In this recording of a children’s choir, the words by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson, appeal to the child in all of us at Christmas time: Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer. … Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year.

Thank you for listening to our seasonal music video posts. Please be assured of our prayers for you. We wish all of you a very Blessed Christmas!

– Fr. Teresio Caldwell, O.S.B.

Advent and Christmas hymns and antiphons chanted by monks of Mount Angel Abbey

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This much-beloved hymn sees in the birth of Jesus Christ the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. Each title (O Wisdom, O Dayspring) is drawn from the Old Testament, and is followed by a prayer, a petition (“Show us the path, disperse the gloom”) which we can make ours today. The sober, mournful melody of this hymn challenges us. It is the song of a “captive Israel,” of a people “in exile, until the Son of God appear.” Then comes the surprising refrain: “Rejoice!” Why “rejoice”? Because the Son of God has indeed come, and will indeed come again!

Conditor Alme Siderum (Loving Creator of the Stars)

This ancient hymn (7th century) marks the beginning of the Advent season, and is sung at Vespers from the 1st Sunday of Advent through December 16. Its opening verses draw our eyes to the stars above, shining against the darkness of a world where sin and death still reign. Why look up? To wait for a star, the star, the one that announces the birth of the Creator of the stars, the one who will conquer sin and death. The melody is almost playful — a gentle reminder that the one who will accomplish this comes in the smallness, playfulness of a child.

O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

This is the first of the seven “O Antiphons,” a series of chants from the 6th-8th century that inspired the hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” One is sung each day between December 17 through December 23. Although the text changes, the melody remains practically the same for all seven antiphons. Hear in it the desire of all created things to see the face of their Creator. The Wisdom that spoke all things into being will now speak to us in the cries, laughs and babbling of a baby.

Puer Natus (A Child Is Born)

This is, properly speaking, a Christmas hymn (and a favorite of Abbot Jeremy’s). The full hymn, which dates to sometime between the 13th-14th centuries, is a sort of “musical Nativity scene” — it depicts for us, in song, the Child, the manger, the stable, the animals, the Magi, and the Virgin Mother. It is also a sort of “musical catechism,” because it describes the redemptive mission that this Child has come to fulfill. It ends with a verse of praise to the Blessed Trinity.

Alma Redemptoris Mater (Loving Mother of the Redeemer)

This short canticle was written by a Benedictine monk in the 11th century, and is now sung after Compline from the beginning of Advent until the Feast of the Presentation (February 2nd). It sings of the wonders that God has worked in Mary: Mother, yet virgin; she bears a Son, but her Son is her Creator!

– Notes by Br. Israel Sanchez, O.S.B.

Advent and Christmas music performed by Br. Thomas Buttrick, OSB, organ, and Br. Anselm Flores, OSB, violin

Advent and Christmas music performed by Br. Thomas Buttrick, OSB, organ, and Br. Anselm Flores, OSB, violin

“Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates” is a celebratory fanfare based on the ending of Psalm 24: “Lift up your heads, O gates! That the King of glory may come in.” According to St. Bernard, Christ has three advents, or comings: the first, in ancient Judea, was public, but of low estate. The second is his ongoing secret coming into the heart of he who loves God. The third, future coming will be public, and in overwhelming glory. All the joy and gladness of Christmas captured in this fanfare is just a tiny appetizer.

“Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” composed by the 4th-century hymnographer Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, is played here. As Christmas is no simple birthday celebration, this beautiful, theological poem is a meditation on the Nativity as the incarnation of the Son of God, the eternal divine Word come to share our trials and bring us back to God. Here is the first verse:

Of the Father’s love begotten
‘ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the Source, the Ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore!

We are glad to share with you a Baroque organ classic and a contemporary Christmas fanfare performed on the Abbey’s superb Ott pipe organs. “Wachet Auf” is a freestanding composition transcribed for organ by J.S. Bach, drawn from a larger work of his, a cantata of the same title. The German means, “Wake up!” and is a reference to the parable of the ten virgins from the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel.  According to the parable’s symbolic meaning, when Christ, the soul’s bridegroom, arrives suddenly in the night, she who has been vigilant, expecting her lord, will arise in jubilation and go into the wedding feast of heaven with him. During this Advent season, we are well advised to have the same attitude of anticipation as we await the Lord’s own arrival in our hearts.

Happy Advent from the monks of Mount Angel! Keep awake!