Tag Archives: Eleanor Farjeon

Set every peak and valley humming.

This Christmas carol with words by Eleanor Farejon came into my life only a few years ago. I can see why it’s not as favored as some that have a fuller theology of the Incarnation, but there is so much that could be said about the significance of God taking on human flesh, I want to make use of all that has been written about this event.

This one is lovely in the way it captures some of the anticipation I feel as I also try to “make my house as fair as I am able.” It’s comforting to have the wisdom of a woman combined with the upbeat melody, a different tone altogether from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” — but it is in sync with that joy of preparation of the material aspects of our Christmas feast. And after all, we are celebrating the mystery of God becoming material.

As St. John of Damascus said, “I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter.” God entered His creation of seed, stars, birds, and dirt, and because He did, they are made glorious. Now, we give them back to him in celebration.

PEOPLE, LOOK EAST

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

-Eleanor Farjeon

If I from California look east across the globe, I might come eventually to Ukraine, where these monks are singing carols. I don’t understand the words, but I know well what they are singing about. We are singing all over the earth about the pivotal event of history.

(Get ready to) REJOICE!

The Tide in the River

A short verse stuck in my mind over 20 years ago, and has been playing there off and on out of a proper context. I’m pretty sure it came to me in a book of poems for children, and somewhere along the way I incorrectly connected it with Longfellow; when recently I searched around online for a while I found that the author is Eleanor Farjeon.

Only once that I can remember did the meaning fit with the situation, when I was with my dear husband on a short getaway to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We were staying in the company town of Scotia in way-northern California, where the sawmill is built near the Eel River.

After dinner we walked in the dark around the village of Rio Dell close by, and on our way back to the hotel stopped on the bridge to lean over the rail; we listened to the quiet flowing noise and could barely make out the stream down below. Here was the right time and place, and the verse very nimbly popped into my mind, and I recited:

The tide in the river,
The tide in the river,
The tide in the river runs deep.
I saw a shiver
Pass over the river
As the tide turned in its sleep.

         –Eleanor Farejon

Now we’re celebrating that blessed day once more, but we’re driving to California’s Central Coast this time for our little vacation, to the town of Cambria where we spent part of our honeymoon and which we haven’t visited since. Maybe we’ll go to the beach this time. Let me see, do I know any beach-y verse I could get ready?