The Seat of Wisdom College Instrumental Ensemble accompanied the Ecclesiastical Schola choir in an Advent concert at St. Hedwig’s Church in Barry’s Bay, Ont., on Dec. 2. Photo by Katherine Kelly

Music brings a calm note to a busy Advent season

By  Mary French, Youth Speak News
  • December 11, 2019

As the unmistakable lights and noises of Christmas began to fill the streets in early December, there was a sense of the inevitable — busy and stressful lives were about to shift into a gift-searching, crowd-pressing, agenda-filled circus.

Yet, in a quiet church in Barry’s Bay, Ont., the world was transfixed with a penetrating calmness on Dec. 2 as the soft cry of violin pierced the air. Ode after ode to the Virgin and her newborn Son were sung in a quiet space that was filled with a harmonious blend of joy and peace. 

How do we prepare a quiet place for the Christ Child in the midst of the holiday rush? The Ecclesiastical Schola choir of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College hoped to bring some peaceful reflection into Advent by holding a night of meditation at St. Hedwig’s Church. The event featured a mix of Scripture reflections, intermingled with choir pieces and classical music.

Through the performance, the choir members aimed to draw their listeners back to the true purpose and spirit of Advent. The performance is more than just a relaxing evening, said one choir member, it also helps prepare for Christ Himself.

“Preparing for Advent is found in a lot of little things. It can be little acts of kindness or little ways to grow in our love for God or better our habits,” says Rebecca Jacobson, 23. “Singing helps foster love because it is something you are giving freely, and it’s a small way to give joy to others.”

Jacobson believes that the choir’s performance can touch their listeners because music can speak to the soul in a way that regular words cannot. In the midst of many noises, she said she found the slow repetition of prayerful music a good means of meditation. 

Daniel Everett, 18, went to support his friends who were in the ensemble, but also found it was a good entry into his Advent preparation. He found the soothing sound of the strings and melodies helped create a peaceful stillness.

“It’s important to have peaceful quiet for two reasons. Firstly, because it’s the easiest way to hear God’s voice, and secondly, it’s the easiest way to hear your own voice,” he said. “It allows you to work through your stuff and talk to God, and that’s not always something you can do if you are always surrounded by noise.”

Everett finds that preparing for Christmas is a time of anticipation, but also of joy and charity. 

“To prepare for Christmas, you are trying to prepare your mind and get yourself in the proper headspace,” he said. “You try to grow closer in love and charity to the people around you, which you can do through gift-giving, almsgiving and other classic holiday activities. Overall, you try to let the world go a little bit and find some more peace. … I take as much time off work and studying as I can to just take time to sit and talk with people who are close to me.”

The real cause for joy during the Christmas season, said choir member Gabriela Jezierski, 20, might be explained in the group’s closing song, “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” Real rejoicing, she said, means to trust in the Lord and His goodness.

The challenge of Advent, she said, is finding the time and the calm to experience the joy of the season.

“It is hard to make that quiet, especially at school where it’s a busy time for students, and at home in the family, where everything is busy.

“It’s interesting because the world always seems so busy and it is a time of excitement and anticipation. But I think that being a Catholic means that, though you can feel some of that excitement too, it’s also in the stillness of your heart that you anticipate.”

(French, 21, is a third-year liberal arts student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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