Turning Toward the Morning Gordon Bok
When the deer has bedded down and the bear has gone to ground And the northern goose has wandered off to warmer bay and sound It's so easy in the cold to feel the darkness of the year And the heart is growing lonely for the morning (Chorus) Oh, my Jenny, don't you know that the stars are swingin' slow And the seas are rollin' easy as they did so long ago If I had a thing to give you I would tell you one more time That the world is always turning toward the morning When October's growin' thin and November's comin' home You'll be thinking of the seasons and the sad things that you've seen And you hear that old wind walkin' hear him singin' high and thin You could swear he's out there singin' of your sorrow (Chorus) When the darkness falls around you and the north wind comes to blow you can hear him call your name out as he walks the brittle snow That old wind don't mean you trouble, he don't care or even know He's just walkin' down the darkness toward the morning (Chorus) It's a pity we don't know what the little flowers know They can't face the cold November they can't take the bitter snow They put their glories all behind them bow their heads and let it go But you know they'll be there shining in the morning (Chorus) Now my Jenny don’t you know that the days are rolling slow And the winter’s walkin’ easy as it did so long ago If that wind should come and ask you, why’s my Jenny weeping so Won’t you tell him you’re just weeping for the morning
This is probably my favorite Advent song.
Now, I know what you are thinking, this is not a hymn. You are correct, it is not a hymn. It’s a song I learned a very long time ago and with a minor change in lyrics (the original reads Joanie not Jenny) it became a song that I sang to my daughter Jennifer every night when she was little. A couple of Christmases ago she painted out the words to the chorus and I have it hanging in my office at home. A point of connection between Jen and me and a reminder that the world is always turning towards the morning. That no matter what is happening in life right now, there is hope. That no matter how dark things may seem at any given moment, it is only temporary. That no matter how cold the winter seems, spring is coming. The world is always turning towards the morning. So, what does this have to do with Advent? Well, I think that the lyrics of this song speak well to the season, We are in a time of gathering darkness, both physical and liturgical. The days are growing shorter and very soon, right before Christmas, we will experience the shortest day of the year. Most of the animals that visit our yard seem to have gone into hibernation. A little over a month ago, the geese did, in fact, head to “warmer bay and sound” as they passed overhead in large flocks, migrating south. Most of the summer birds are gone as well. This time of year makes me want to hibernate, like the bear that comes around during the warm months looking for our bird feeders. It is a time of early darkness and quiet, Advent can be like that - a time of pulling inward, a time of quiet reflection, Advent is a time of waiting, a time of ‘almost, but not yet.’ It is very easy during this time of year “to feel the darkness of the year” and have our hearts “growing lonely for the morning.” For many people, this time of year is anything but joyful. The lyrics capture this as well “You’ll be thinking of the season and the sad things that you’ve seen - You can hear that old wind walking, hear him singing high and thin and you’d swear he’s out there singing of your sorrow” But, the beauty of the song - and the season - is that it doesn’t end here. Hope is offered. Light is coming. The winter is just doing it’s thing and “walkin down the darkness toward the morning.” The chorus reminds us again and again that no matter how dark things are right now, “The world is always turning towards the morning.” Things will change, light will return. Advent is a season of darkness, but it is also a season of hope. The first Sunday of Advent we light a single candle against the gathering darkness and celebrate with hope, the light to come. As the days grow shorter and darker, we light more and more candles. We will light a candle for Peace, a candle for Joy, a candle for Love, until at Christmas, we will each be holding a candle and singing, celebrating the Light of the World. As we move through Advent, this time of gathering darkness and quiet, my prayer for you all is that you are able to hold onto hope, peace, joy, and love. My prayer is that you all are able to see beyond the darkness and know that the light is coming. That you will take time, even though things will get busy, to stop and be still in the darkness and just be, allowing yourself to feel the peace, and the quiet, and the anticipation of the season. I encourage you to take a listen to Gordon Bok singing “Turning Towards the Morning” and to let the lyrics seep in. May you have a blessed Advent