“Let all mortal flesh keep silence,/and with fear and trembling stand;/ponder nothing earthly minded . . . “
The words got into my shoulders while I wasn’t looking and loosened them up. It’s a low enough melody for a poor singer like me to sing confidently, so my pleasure in the melody lulled me into complacency, and the words snuck up on me.
On the first Sunday of Advent, Thanksgiving weekend, the 1st day of December (December!), there is good news hiding in the ancient hymn: though there is much to do and much to say, activity and speech are not always what is required.
I listened to the congregation singing, and I took its verse as instruction. I breathed out long and full, and for the remainder of the verse I rid my attention of any thought about the words I was supposed to say in the service, typed and scrawled on white pages in my black folio.