People, Look East

I loved this song which we sang at Lake Street Church on the first Sunday of advent. The tune “put me in the mood.” The words in verses 2 and 3 especially moved me: reminders that there is a work of God in “giving up our strength” or in ceasing/guarding the nest. Any poetic metaphors which help us to take seriously the demands of discipleship WHILE AT THE SAME TIME reminding us of necessary seasons of cessation, waiting, preparing, entrusting God to be God… well, those “put me in the advent mood” too. I pray, actually, to live this way all year.

People, Look East

Words and Music: Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965), 1928 MIDI / Noteworthy Composer

1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

“People, Look East” was written by Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) and was first published as “Carol of Advent” in Part 3 of “Modern Texts Written for or Adapted to Traditional Tunes” in The Oxford Book of Carols, 1928. Farjeon, a native of London, was a devout Catholic who viewed her faith as “a progression toward which her spiritual life moved rather than a conversion experience.” (The Presbyterian Hymnal Companion, p. 323) She achieved acclaim as an author of children’s nursery rhymes and singing games, and is best remembered for her poem “Morning Has Broken.” BESANÇON, an ancient carol, first appeared in Christmas Carols New and Old, 1871, as the setting for “Shepherds, Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep,” and was titled CHANTONS, BARGIÉS, NOUÉ, NOUÉ.

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