The days are surely coming (website only)

Authors & translators:
Grant, Dominic
Festivals and Seasons:
Worship Resources:
Advent and Christmas
Festivals and Seasons:

[A hymn to accompany the lighting of Advent Candles]

“The days are surely coming,”
the prophet's words proclaim:
“A ruler for my people
to set them free from blame.
'The Lord is our righteousness' -
yes, this shall be their name.”
Light a candle for God who keeps his word.
Hope is stirred!
Light a candle for God who keeps his word.

“Behold, I'll send my messenger
to make a ready road;
the herald of God's loyalty
will come to his abode.
He'll cleanse you with a purity
that sin cannot erode.”
Light a candle for God who puts us right.
Peace is in sight!
Light a candle for God who puts us right.

Now let your song be unconfined,
you people of God's choice;
God will protect and gather you,
so listen to his voice:
“The Lord, your God, is in your midst” -
with all your heart, rejoice!
Light a candle for God who sets us free.
Love's decree!
Light a candle for God who sets us free.

O Bethlehem of Judah,
your story now is told:
from you, God's promised ruler comes,
his origin of old.
And he shall stand and feed his flock
secure within his fold.
Light a candle for God who holds our lives.
Joy arrives!
Light a candle for God who holds our lives.

The candles burn, all four alight,
the day at last is come.
The Saviour's birth we celebrate;
let fear and gloom be gone.
For hope and peace and love and joy
belong to everyone.
Light a candle for Jesus the King.
Welcome him!
Light a candle for Jesus the King.

Words: © Dominic Grant, October 2015

Metre: 86.86.86. with refrain

Suggested tune: “God rest you merry, gentlemen” (Hymns & Psalms 103)

Scripture References:

Verse 1: Jeremiah 33: 14-16
Verse 2: Malachi 3: 1-4
Verse 3: Zephaniah 3: 14-20
Verse 4 Micah 5: 2-5a

Ideas for use

This hymn is designed to be used progressively during Advent, i.e. starting with just the first verse on Advent Sunday, then adding a verse each following Sunday. Each of these first four verses is based upon the Old Testament reading set for the day in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary (see Scripture References above). Verse 5, as the comments below note, is to be added on Christmas Day.

 More information

A piece of advice sometimes given to actors on stage is that, if you make a mistake or lose a line, you need to "forgive yourself" and move on. Dwelling on the error, something that is past, kills your ability to deliver a performance.

There is something of that message implicit in Dominic Grant's advent carol. The forgiveness, the grace, is the Advent gift from God that allows us to remember that “the Lord, your God, is in [our] midst” (v.3) and that "hope and peace and love and joy belong to everyone" (v.5).

This theme is present in the opening words of verse 1. Dominic observes that God's people are not without responsibility for sin; but that God, out of love and grace, liberates us from the fear or threat of a negative judgement. The emphasis throughout the follpowing verses is on that forgiveness and comfort rather than the threat of judgement that we often, and without nuance, attribute to the Hebrew prophets.

As well as the passage from the prophet Jeremiah, on which the first verse draws, Dominic also points to a number of New Testament passages:

“I had in mind, also, the numerous occurrences of the adjective "blameless". Is the Apostle saying, for example, that those whom God has "chose[n] in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love" (Ephesians 1: 4) are indeed unblemished by sin? Surely the writer means rather that, though we are all sinners, God chooses not to let blame stand against us. Similarly, 1 Timothy 3: 10 and Titus 1: 6-7 speak of the requirement for deacons and overseers respectively to be ‘blameless’ – a high bar indeed if it is taken to mean a personal history completely without reproach, but more understandable if we take it to mean a path of sanctification upon which the believer knows him/herself to be kept free from [the power of] blame.”

The suggestion is that, come Christmas Day (v.5), with the words of the Hebrew prophets and John the Baptist to guide us, together with inspirational use God has made of the tiny town of Bethlehem, we may learn to forgive ourselves as God has done and to love what God has now made possible.

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