'Winter Berries' photo (c) 2006, Noel J. Goodwin - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/“No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found…”

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This verse rarely seems to make the cut in modern versions of “Joy to the World.” Maybe it’s because hymns are often lengthy and difficult to get the head and voice around, or maybe thoughts of sorrow, thorns, and curses don’t exactly drum up holiday cheer. But a lot of truth is in that forgotten third verse; it captures the soul of Advent, the waiting, the intense anticipation for reversal.

Far as the curse is found. Maybe farther. Hope, renewal, joy, flooding across the nearly-dead earth to drown the weeds.

The first great curse is that we toil, surviving by sweat and tears and waging battle against thorns and drought and disease. Of course the beauty is there, but our joys and sustenance are tempered by futility, the sense that we can never do enough, or be enough, or win.

But take heart, because the memory of Paradise sustains us, and the hope for renewal leads the way from winter’s bitter sting to spring’s gentle rain. The reversal has begun, and with the with heaven and nature we can sing.

Joy to the weary, broken, beautiful world.

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