“When hope shall sing its triumph, and sadness flee away”

My favorite Advent hymn, as I’ve noted before, is “O Come, Divine Messiah.” This means, much to the chagrin of everyone except me, that I try to shoehorn it into Mass whenever this season comes around. This time, it wasn’t called for on the song list on my other parish, but they have a pretty long time for Communion, so I had my shot to squish it into that time after the conclusion of the Communion hymn.


“Hey, do you know ‘O Come, Divine Messiah?’ ” I asked the cantor.

“Nope,” she said.


But wait! She was willing to learn it on supershort notice. So we went through it, she got it (thank goodness for excellent sight readers), and I awaited my shot to spring it upon everyone.

Sure enough, the Communion hymn wasn’t long enough. So I got off the organ bench, zipped over to the piano bench, and got going on “O Come, Divine Messiah.” The cantor sang, sweetly and well, giving the song a quieter, more pensive quality than it normally has. But I could hear another voice (no, not mine).

At this church, the one formerly worshiping in an elementary school but now with its own building, the piano and organ are boxed in a little bit by rows of extra seating that the choir uses when they sing. In the back row, singing along and smiling to her little girl, was a young woman, maybe 30ish. She rocked the fidgety little girl a little bit as she sang. The little girl tried to squirm her way out, but mom held her tight and kept singing as she gently rocked her just that little bit. Eventually, the little girl calmed down and clung to her mom. As I finished the song, the mom kept softly singing to the little girl. Was the woman’s voice as good as the cantor’s? Probably not, but it was perfect for its own situation.

After Mass, I said hello to the woman, her husband, and her family. And I complimented her for her singing and learned she knew the hymn from spending time in Canada (makes sense, given that it’s a French carol). But what didn’t came up was the fact that just by that little moment in time, she made my week. She won’t know that, of course. But I can look back at that very simple moment between mother and child, and it will always make me smile.


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