Music For Advent; O Great

Salvation Has Been Given to UsHark the Glad Sound! the Savior Comes

Hark the glad sound! The Savior comes,
The Savior promised long;
Let ev’ry heart prepare a throne
And ev’ry voice a song.

He comes the captives to release,
In Satan’s prison held.
The gates of brass before him burst;
The iron fetters yield.

He comes the broken heart to bind,
The bleeding soul to cure,
And with the treasures of his grace
To enrich the humble poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
Your welcome shall proclaim,
And heav’n’s eternal arches ring
With your beloved name.

Here’s the Great O for the day:


O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.


O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

Or, as the band Bad Religion puts it:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Radix Jesse

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Emmanuel and Israel.

It may strike people as odd that a band called Bad Religion would put out a Christmas album entirely of religious songs. Why would a band who use a cross in a prohibition sign, like a no smoking sign produce such a product? I do not think they are necessarily anti-Christian, nor do I think that they are particularly Christian. Rather, it seems that religion, for them, is a representation of a corrupt institution, a representation of just what can go wrong in the world in a way William Blake might understand.


The Garden of Love

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys & desires.

William Blake’s poems like The Garden of Love, and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell take a hard stand against the Church and church attitudes toward the poor, oppression of creativity, and the mingling of church and state, but not against Christ. In the works of Bad Religion the Church represents a general political and cultural corruption not necessarily a rejection of the Christian message, but perhaps a lens through which one may examine the state of the world in which we live.

Then again the name Bad Religion and the symbol may have been chosen by a group of teens just to get a rise out of their parents.


One thought on “Music For Advent; O Great

  1. I was a huge Bad Religion fan in high school, back before I’d become a Christian. Heck, I even had a t-shirt with their notorious “cross buster” logo, and I wore the thing defiantly in the company of people I knew to be believers. It turns out that I had misinterpreted BR’s frequent critiques of Christianity; Greg Graffin, BR’s front man and a self-described secular humanist, isn’t really anti-Christian- he’s anti-hypocrisy. I think men like this may be nearer to the spirit of God than we’d like to admit.

    The album: He said in a recent interview that he’s actually a big fan of Christmas. He digs the joy and charity of the season, and he enjoys all these traditions and songs are part of the broader American cultural heritage that we all share. He rejects the message of the songs declaring Christ as King, of course, but he embraces them as part of the shared cultural experience.

    I actually listened to the whole album a couple weeks back. It was alright. Punk doesn’t quite capture the hopeful heights and somber lows of a good Christmas spiritual.

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