Curating Advent // PART I: Lady

Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar for many Christians around the world. Advent, which means "a visitation," is a season wherein we reflect upon the darkness that surrounds us, long for God to break in, rejoice at the visitation of His Son, and hope for His return. In this series, I will share various works of art and musical selections to enrich our experience of this holy season. Each post will contain a short reflection along with one artwork and one piece of music. 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has long been one of the most fascinating individuals of the Scriptures to me. A young, poor girl from the middle-of-nowhere, a virgin who suddenly finds herself on that confusing path towards motherhood that we call "pregnancy," she stuns me with her humility, wisdom, and grace. Luke 1:46-55 in particular illuminates these aspects of Mary to us. 

The following painting has been sitting on a table in my home - easily visible when you first walk in our front door - during this Advent season. I have found it to be mesmerizing in the way it captures both Mary and her Holy Child. By one of my favorite artists, Janet McKenzie, it is characteristic of so much of her artwork in how well it captures intimacy, personhood, and ethnic diversity. 

The accompanying music is "The Shepherd's Carol," a poem by Clive Sansom scored for SATB choir by Bob Chilcott. Although it is a sort of "classic," I have long found it stirring during Christimastime. I cannot listen to this music without thinking of this painting, and vice versa. 

"Embracing the World" by Janet McKenzie

"Embracing the World" by Janet McKenzie

We stood on the hills, Lady, 
Our day’s work done, 
Watching the frosted meadows
That winter had won.

The evening was calm, Lady, 
The air so still, 
Silence more lovely than music
Folded the hill.

There was a star, Lady, 
Shone in the night, 
Larger than Venus it was
And bright, so bright.

Oh, a voice from the sky, Lady, 
It seemed to us then
Telling of God being born
In the world of men.

And so we have come, Lady, 
Our day’s work done, 
Our love, our hopes, ourselves, 
We give to your son.