We were diverse in temperament, personality, weaknesses, strengths. We were a volatile lot. My oldest brother was a choleric drill sergeant from the moment he was born- he later became a colonel in the Army. The second oldest, my brother Mark, was a gentle soul, artistic, talented and basically a rescuer- at least he rescued me from my older brother who would march me around the house in practise drills. Then there were we three girls. (I won't even go there). Last, but not least, the most Christian of us all- our dog, our Springer Spaniel, Ginger. My Dad used to say she was the most Christ-like of us all because she was so patient, and long suffering.
There we all would be, on Christmas Eve at home. We'd sing Christmas carols after having gone to church. We had to do our own version of these Carols. Without an organ, without a guitar, we would gather in the family room and sing. One Christmas carol in particular, had to be sung. It had to.
It was “We three Kings”. And it was predominantly sung by my Dad and my brothers. Joe could sing loudly and clearly, and Mark could quietly carry a tune. But my Dad sounded like a bull frog going through puberty. Maybe that's why we loved hearing them sing this carol.
We all would sing verse one together-
We three kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, morr and mountain,
Following yonder Star.
Joe would do verse two, singing confidently and a bit braggadociously. Then they'd all do the chorus. Mark would sing verse three, after some prodding. Then the chorus again.
Then, verse four- it was my Dad's turn to sing. We all would hold our breath and wait for his deep, low mournful voice to sing those beautiful, tragic words:
Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Seal'd in the stone-cold tomb.
That's always when we would remember, not with joy and feasting, but with awe and wonder, what Christ came to earth to do- to die for us. Sometimes there would be a solemn hush in the room as Dad sang his verse. Some years we would burst our laughing as Dad croaked his way through the song. And some years, if it had been a hard, long, bittersweet year, Dad would cry as he sang the verse and our eyes would well up with tears.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying- sometimes some of us know that experience all too well. But then again, our Savior knows that experience. More than anyone.
Then the triumphant end of the song would come, with a burst, with a shout almost, as all of us- the girls included- would join in with the last round of the chorus:
O, star of wonder, star of might,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to the perfect light.
He's guiding us....still. Out of darkness, and always into the light.