Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Sun Returns

Sunrise on the 10th Day of Christmas

The Winter Solstice was two weeks ago and Earth's perihelion is today. Is it just a coincidence that the Earth is closest to the Sun a mere two weeks after the shortest day? Yes, mostly, kind of. It was not ever thus; it will not be ever so, just as the North Star will not always be Polaris, no matter how constant it may seem to be in our day and age.

I'm reminded of that mystical line in "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," when the Messiah arrives "Late in time." Or even better, the closing stanza of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear":

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold . . .

(Wikipedia & The New Oxford Book of Carols give this version)

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold . . .

(this version from the Episcopal Hymnal &
The Reader's Digest Merry Christmas Songbook)

Lyrics by Edmund H. Sears (1810 - 1876)

Peter, Paul, and Mary capture the mystery in their prophetic lyrics:

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle.
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed
In the weaving of your fingers . . .

We are "invited by our culture and by the shortened days to a time of reflection" (Peter Bunder). On one of the darkest nights, the Child is born. Fast away the old year passes, and the days hasten on. A fortnight later, the Wise Men arrive, the days lengthen visibly, and we shift our focus to yet another ever - circling year.

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