Thursday, June 08, 2017

The everlasting light

As a young boy, back in the mid-60s, my parents had a family custom. On Christmas Eve, before heading off to the midnight candlelight service, they'd play an old LP of King's College choir, performing lessons and carols. It must of been one of the first commercial recordings of the famous choir.

I've been listening to these hymns and carols for over 50 years. As you pass through the lifecycle, as you experience the wear and tear of life, the same hymns and carols take on deeper meaning. Here's a performance I enjoy:

Even though a carol we associate with Christmas Eve, the service evidently took place during the daytime. Perhaps it was a Christian Day service rather than a Christmas Eve service.

Towards the beginning of the video clip, the camera pans up a stained glass window. The viewer sees two flickering candles in the foreground, with the illuminated window in the background. Light behind the window, from outside, streaming in. Steady light in contrast to the flickering candlelight. 

Light and darkness are elemental religious symbols. They figure prominently in the Genesis creation account as well as the prologue to John's Gospel. Lamplight is a motif in the early chapters of Revelation. 

But it takes an effort to appreciate the symbolism, because it loses impact due to excessive familiarity. We're so used to these metaphors that they've lost their freshness unless we consciously mediate on their timeless significance. 

If the interior is brighter, it makes exterior lighting seem dimmer. If the interior is dimmer, it makes exterior lighting seem brighter. 

If a cathedral depends on natural lighting or candlelight, the dim interior stands in contrast to sunlight flooding in through stained glass panels.

Some Christians lead lives that grow increasingly dark. A flickering candle in the night. Yet dimming the light in this world makes it possible to better see and to better appreciate the everlasting light beyond our dying world. 


  1. Thanks for posting this, Steve. An edifying read.

  2. Wonderful imagery. I great reminder.
    That light shines in the darkness,
    yet the darkness did not overcome it.
    John 1:5