The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. - Luke 2:10-11
This Advent we will be exploring the role of the herald in God’s plan of salvation history. You know the word perhaps most famously from the hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” A herald was the official mouthpiece of the King announcing his proclamations and his impending arrival.
Today the choir serve as God’s Advent heralds; singing of God’s messiah, that Jesus Christ is coming into the world, not only that He came so long ago but that He is coming again.
And the composer, Conard Susa, offers us something exceptional and distinctive. For as believers in a God who reigns over the all the earth, it is essential that we listen to heralds from other contexts and cultures to give us the widest and broadest view of our most amazing Lord.
Sousa has brought forward traditional music from Spain, Puerto Rico, and more. Here is what Sousa said of his visit to Mexico:
And the people have a look of long-suffering patience about them...Everything – their language, their food – all works together, just so beautifully. .. I felt very drawn to the south, and in a lot of my own music I’d written Spanish and Mexican type music. I don’t know why, but it comes out. … I felt very at home with those tunes, as if I had known them as a child. (San Francisco Conservatory of Music / Conrad Susa Oral History)
One of the early performances took place in the barrio in, of all places,Minnesota. A few days before the performance only 40 tickets were sold in a church that could hold 500. But thanks be to God in this case for Garrison Keillor, who played one of the pieces on his radio show and that set a spark!
Listen to this report from the concert as reported to Sousa:
“Conrad, I have to tell you that that church was packed with people. They were even standing in the back aisles. There were more people than the fire laws admit. We’re going to have to give a second concert for people who want to hear it live.” I said, “Oh, well, that means it’s a great success.” He said, “Yes, there was a woman who came up and said, ‘Thanks for giving us back our carols.’” (San Francisco Conservatory of Music / Conrad Susa Oral History)
Let us listen to these voices from the Southwest, heralding the coming of the King. Amen.