And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways
The first song we sing
The early morning sky is still dark as the monks rise from their brief but needed sleep. The vigil prayers, said in the middle of the night, are just a few hours behind them, but the monks still rise all the same, this time to sing and chant the first prayers of the new day. The song they sing at this first prayer of the day is an ancient one, taken from the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. The song is the Benedictus, the song of Zechariah, a priest of Israel, who upon seeing the birth of his son John the Baptist burst out in joyful exhortation. Zechariah’s melody proclaimed that his son John would be the prophet of a mighty savior, to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to people by the forgiveness of their sins.
Every morning the monks sing this song; there is not a day that passes when it is not. And so it has been for two millennia. By singing the song of Zechariah the monks prepare their hearts to receive Christ each and every day, to embolden their prayer, inspire their hearts, enliven their minds, and strengthen their bodies for work.
During this beginning of the Advent season the song of Zechariah should be a song on our lips as well. This is the rising of our new church year and though we sit in darkness we know that the dawn of Christ’s natal star is on the horizon. By singing our song of Zechariah we prepare our hearts to receive the infant Christ this Advent, to embolden our prayers, inspire our hearts, enliven our minds, and strengthen our bodies for the holy work of welcoming him whose birth the angels, monks, we, and all creation sings.
Rev. Daniel Joyner Miller