Saturday, December 10, 2011

Midnight Special

"He himself was not the light." But all of Israel had been waiting for the Light, and of course the Church continues to wait -- joyfully and prayerfully, as tomorrow's Epistle says.

If you're preaching tomorrow, and racing to find a hook, you might consider the American folk blues Midnight Special, about a man in prison watching the train come down the tracks, hoping that it may bring a pardon from the governor, and set him free.

Shine your ever-loving light on me. It's not a bad prayer for Advent.

Like so many folk songs, it has a complicated textual history, and the lyrics are a bit hard to pin down. (Wikipedia background here; lyrics as recorded by the Band and CCR here; Leadbelly version here). And fair warning: Carl Sandburg thought that the song wasn't about waiting for a train to freedom, but about wishing to be hit by the train rather than remain a prisoner. (Still, a chance to talk about the sin of despair).

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