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Holding on to Advent hope

Have you ever wondered what it was like just before the birth of Christ? The hardships that Mary and Joseph endured to get to Bethlehem only to be turned away and forced to lodge, and give birth in a stable.

This is what songwriter and recording artist Brian Doerksen was thinking about as he wrote, Just Before The Silent Night, one of 15 new songs on his first Christmas Album, The Heart of Christmas, that he released this year.

Written in the heat of summer in his office, decorated for Christmas by his wife Joyce, Doerksen said that he was imagining what it would have been like to be alive in the middle east at that time.

“From our vantage point we know how the story starts and ends, but when you are living it, it can be really tough,” he said.

“Suffering stacked on more suffering, the injustices of the Roman Empire making more and more demands, having to take an arduous journey while with child, worse yet, having to endure scorn from the people of your home village who now see you as dishonourable.

“In so many ways I can imagine that Mary & Joseph needed to be encouraged to hold on,” said Doerksen.

Just Before The Silent Night was co-written by Doerksen with Jaylene Johnson who he describes as a “gifted songwriter.”

“She really connected to this song idea and helped me finish the song,” said Doerksen.

Although every song on the new album is special to Doerksen, he said that Just Before The Silent Night has an extra special touch to it.

“People are connecting with it because of what the songs says,” said Doerksen, “I have always felt a calling to ‘sing over the suffering’ and I feel like this song does just that.”

While he may be singing over the suffering, Doerksen hopes that people will come away from it with hope.

“So often we get buried under layers of suffering and discouragement, but if we could just hold on a little longer, soon we will move from a time of ‘just before’ into a time of peace,” he said.

“We can sing Just Before The Silent Night over each other because whatever good thing we are just about to see and experience, we can encourage each other to hold on because ‘the light is breaking through’ and ‘love is here for you.’

“And truthfully, this is not just about spiritual reality,” said Doerksen, “Like Mary & Joseph, we can be that love for each other as we journey together.”

A journey that starts anew every year with Advent, the beginning of the Christian year.

“To quote one of my other songs from the project, ‘This is how the story starts,’” said Doerksen quoting another new song, The Second Noel.

“Advent is our ‘New Year’ . . . a chance to reorient and reset our clocks. It’s a chance to admit that we need a Saviour, and thank goodness, God in his great kindness and mercy has sent us a Saviour who is love and who is a shepherd for all,” said Doerksen.

It’s for this reason, the hope that as a congregation we can show that love and support for each other, that First Lutheran’s Worship Director Yvonne Broadfield, decided to introduce Just Before The Silent Night to our worship services this Advent season.

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