Adventia, day 22 (fourth Sunday of Advent)

One of the most evocative songs ever. Shane MacGowan’s growly, barroom voice actually adds to the earthiness of this modern day classic. Adventia, day 22 brings you Fairytale of New York by The Pogues.

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won’t see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I’ve got a feeling
This year’s for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They’ve got cars big as bars
They’ve got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It’s no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You’re a bum
You’re a punk
You’re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it’s our last

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can’t make it all alone
I’ve built my dreams around you

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing Galway Bay
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas day

Songwriters: Jem Finer / Shane Patrick Lysaght Macgowan

Fairytale of New York lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Adventia, day 21

I am aware that this just feels lazy. Maybe it is! However, for Adventia, day 21, I’m redirecting you to another favourite site of mine, Art and Theology, where you will find a most remarkable collection of deeply considered, carefully curated, imaginatively presented artistic fare. All of it is steeped in theological depth and mystery and points us heavenward where we live with God in the perfect dance of truth and beauty.

I give you “Out of the Ash” by William Everson. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Adventia, days 19 & 20

The following prophetic poetry has always been such a seismic piece that it deserves a couple days. For Adventia, days 19 and 20, I am posting one of the most remarkable, strangely comforting, but deeply subversive prophetic passages in the entire Scripture.

These words, from the mouth of a young, pregnant Mary are as powerful now as they ever were. For those who think the Gospel nothing more than one’s personal ticket to heaven with little social impact, the poem that would become known as “The Magnificat” easily challenges such quaintly dismissive, erroneous assumptions.

In two translations, the New Revised Standard Version and The Message, I give you –

Luke 1:46-55 – “The Magnificat” 


And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
   Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

(The Message)

46-55 And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,

    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Um, wow.

Adventia, day 16

Nothing makes Advent better than great music. Today we listen to the wonderful arrangement of the famous Austrian folk tune, “Still, Still, Still” by Future of Forestry.

Still, Still, still
Let all the earth be still
For Mary in her arms enfolding
Hope of all the world is holding
Still, still, still
Let all the earth be still

Sing, sing, sing,
Sweet angel voices sing
While Jesus lies in manger dreaming
Seraph choirs from heaven are streaming
Sing, sing, sing
Sweet angel voices sing

Light light light
Let all the earth be light
The holy star its news a blazing
Sign of hope for nations blazing
Light, light, light
Let all the earth be light

Adventia, day 13

Adventia, day 13. The poem is “Incarnation.” The poet is Irene Zimmerman. This poem originally appeared in Incarnation: New and Selected Poems for Spiritual Reflection, © 2004 Irene Zimmerman. Sister Irene Zimmerman, OSF, is a Franciscan nun living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


In careful hands

God held the molten world –

fragile filigree

of unfinished blown glass.

Then Mary’s word: Yes!

rose like a pillar of fire,

and Breath blew creation

into Christed crystal.

Adventia, day 12

For our offering today, I’ve decided to stretch outside the safe, sanitized confines of “respectable” or “easy” poetry. Instead, I choose this remarkably incisive and prophetic piece by poet, Dan Anderson.

For God’s Elect in Shopping Malls
Dan Anderson

For those who would not choose to grow old before the Son of Man comes.

A woman with eyes painted on her boobs.
Another reading ‘dodgy’, another inscrutable.
Unfailingly matched to personal genre.
Thematised Personalities of the latter Capitalism.

World writ on the chests of post-Christmas shoppers.
On their post-Christmas T-Shirts. Taunt as these turgid surplus days.
Or sagging with remorse, various colours of remorse.
Buyers. Gifted – those who grieve their gifts. For whatever reason.

Returning shirts. Those soft packages, small bombs of disappointment
That mined the carpet round the Christmas tree.
Sale shirts. Unwanted gifts never sold. A surplus of disappointment.
This excess week, just enough to reconcile the wrong gifts of the old year.

What cancer lives in the soul of a people who exchange gifts?
Gifts that were never thought precious to begin with. But were.
Gifts that were cheap because the panting labour of creation was stolen.
Groaning. Tired hands and aching backs that sutured them cheap.

T-shirts that were hated by their makers, and a disappointment to those who received them.
Who will never be worn. Passed from hand to hand but never worn.
Raped from the earth. Cotton-farms, Great scratches across her face. Unswabbed.
Made poisonous by hatred and other chemicals. Buried.
Done again. And again. Until there is nothing left to take and no where left to hide.

When the Son of Man comes, and all his Holy Angels with him,
Will he need to do more than open our landfills, speak to the T-Shirts,
Give them words to tell their stories, the testimony of fibres. To pronounce?
What was whispered in workshops will be shouted from the rooftops.
And the judgement written across our chests, graphically, designedly.

Stern Son, I would have no hope of your judgement.
If you had not worn such a shirt. Clothed yourself in flesh.
Hung upon, cared and washed, worn out. Worn still.
Been surplus. Been a disappointment. Been laid with the fodder.
Been unspeakably precious. Been the joy of groaning history.
Been unrecognised. Been bloodied. Been hung out to dry.

Laundering Son, how I long to be clothed by you.