Touch, Worship

A promise of hope

All Earth Is Waiting

All earth is waiting to see the Promised One,
And open furrows, the sowing of our God.
All the world, bound and struggling, seeks true liberty;
It cries out for justice and searches for the truth.

us says the prophet to those of Israel,
“A virgin mother will bear Emmanuel.”
One whose name is “God with us,” our Saviour shall be,
rough whom hope will blossom once more within our hearts.

Mountains and valleys will have to be made plain:
Open new highways, new highways for our God,
Who is now coming closer, so come all and see,
And open the doorways, as wide as can be.

In lowly stable the Promised One appeared,
Yet feel that presence throughout the earth today,
For Christ lives in all Christians and is with us now;
Again, on arriving Christ brings us liberty.

Text: Tirso Vaquero; tr. Gertrude C. Suppe (b.1911)
Music: Alberto Taulé (b.1932)

THIS BEAUTIFUL HYMN (UMH 210) speaks about various images of the Advent Season. Written by Alberto Taulé, it was in response to the oppression experienced by people in his country in Latin America. The words of Isaiah inspired him to share with us the message of hope – Christ will come again and He will bring justice and liberty.

Let us look at the hymn through a timeline.

Past: “A virgin mother will bear Emmanuel – God with us” The hymn alludes to Isaiah 40:3-5 where he prophesied the coming of the Saviour to save the nation Israel (and us). is promise was fulfilled. Jesus Christ was born to live as one of us. We remember this story. We look forward to celebrating this Christmas event yearly in December.

Yet even in the run-up to the specific dates of commemoration, we notice Christmas songs played in malls, homes and other public areas (as early as October in some countries). Decorations are up and parties are planned. Businesses dangle attractive deals for products and services. The excitement rapidly sets in so that even in church worship, Christmas carols are (prematurely) sung. Should this be the case?

Present: “All earth is waiting”

Taulé wrote this hymn in the 1970s. It is now 2011 and we are still waiting. We keep waiting and no one knows when the waiting will end. It calls for patience to keep watch. One of the Gospel readings in Advent, Mark 13:24-37, tells us that “the Son of Man is coming in clouds with great power and glory … but no one knows the hour … Keep awake!”

Waiting is not a simple task. People are waiting:

• For the time when old folks do not have to stretch frail limbs to work in food courts, but rather enjoy retirement at home with their grandchildren …
• For MRT lines, home renovations and many more projects to be completed …
• For a life free of debts and mortgages …
• For a job offer …
• For peace and justice to prevail …
• For hunger and poverty to be alleviated …
• For all forms of oppression to cease … The world is replete with struggles. How long shall we wait for freedom, for liberty?

Future: Christ will come again!

A closer look at the hymn tells us that while Taulé relates the coming of Christ through His birth, he also points us to anticipate: “Christ will come again!” We find in Isaiah these words: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy” (Isaiah 65:17-18).

This hymn leads us to view Advent through the lens of time. As people of the present, we remember and celebrate an important event of the past – our loving God coming to us through Jesus Christ. We feel Christ’s presence with us today. We too are encouraged to have a heart of yearning for Christ’s coming in the future. is hymn helps us understand the dynamics of our work both as a community of faith and hope, and as individual believers in God’s promises.

As we advance towards Advent, may we with perseverance in anticipation, set our sights on the future, remembering the promise of a new heaven and a new earth. May this promise be our hope that carries us through the present.

Judith Mosomos is a Lecturer in Church Music at the Methodist School of Music.