I’m feeling less wordy and more musical today, so I thought I’d share one of my favourite Advent hymns. I only learned this hymn a few years ago, and it’s joyful tune always makes me smile.
Here is a bit of background about the hymn:
“People, Look East” first appeared in The Oxford Book of Carols (1928). The lively tune, a traditional French carol BESANÇON, which earlier appeared with the anonymous text, “Shepherds, shake off your drowsy sleep,” provides a festive setting for this wonderful Advent text. In the last forty years, this hymn has gained increasing popularity, as evidenced by its appearance in a number of hymnals in the United States.
Key images of the season are abundant. “People, Look East” is the direction of the rising sun and, in the history of Christianity, the direction of the coming Messiah. In stanza two, the bare earth is waiting for the seed that will flourish in the reign of the Promised One. In stanza three, the stars that guided the Magi shape the “bowl” of the heavens, giving signs of hope beyond “the frosty weather.” The angels’ song, in stanza four, sets “every peak and valley humming,” an oblique reference to Isaiah 40:4, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low. . .”
Except for one word that changes in the last two lines of each stanza, the poem and its musical setting give the sense of a refrain. “Love,” in turn, is defined as “Guest,” “Rose,” “Star,” and “Lord.”
This joyful Advent hymn has the spirit of a Christmas carol, but with an imaginative Advent text. Singing this carol is indeed one way to prepare both our homes and hearts for the coming of the Saviorhttps://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-people-look-east
May this Advent hymn bless you as you listen!