ADVENT BANNER: "FOR TO US A CHILD IS GIVEN"
The banner's purpose is to enhance and complement the bulletin covers for this series and to create a festive atmosphere in the worship space. The covers and the banner visually hint at the content of the sermons: dreams that week after week unveil more of the baby, making the advent of Christ's birth clearer and clearer.
Background material for the banner should be a fairly heavy cotton or satin in a very dark blue—symbolizing that Christ came to bring light to a dark world. The materials for the baby and the hand should also be of a fairly good weight so that when placed on the background they will drape with a certain amount of body (you may Fig. I want to insert a cotton fill for more body). I used a brown-pink shiny satin for the baby and bright red satin for the hand. Keep the body (head, legs, arms) and hand shapes in mind when the fabric is tacked onto the backing. The gold halo and somewhat transparent rays from the star hint at the holiness of Christ.
To symbolically suggest the Old Testament dreams focused on in the four Advent services, I covered the banner with four bright primary colors of craft netting—green, red, yellow, and purple. The colors should be layered in the order stated. One color netting will be removed each week and then attached at the bottom of the banner as a reminder (see detail below).
My banner was 62" x 142", but you can adapt it to any size appropriate for your worship space.
George Langbroek is an artist living in St. Catharines, Ontario. He has designed and made quite a number of banners, mostly for jubilee Fellowship CRC in St. Catharines. He also designed the pulpit, communion table, and baptismal font for this church. (See Langbroek's Lent sculpture crucifix in RW 38, Jan. 1996.)
BE NOW MY VISION
1. Be now my vision, O Lord of my heart—
nothing surpasses the love you impart.
You my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, your presence my light.
2. Be now my wisdom, and be my true word,
I ever with you, and you with me, Lord.
Kept by your Spirit, help me to know
how to obey you, in wisdom to grow.
3. Riches I heed not, nor empty esteem
you my inheritance, treasure, and dream.
Your kingdom first, all else counts as loss,
Lord, I would follow the way of the cross.
4. Be now my stairway, O Jesus, my Lord,
sent by the Father, by angels adored.
You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life,
come to redeem us from darkness and strife.
5. Be now my Master, and I now your slave,
serving the Servant who came down to save.
Show me your meekness, like you I'd be,
humble, obedient, till all bend the knee.
6. Rock of all ages, come down from above,
smash all our idols, unite us in love,
turn swords to plowshares, make wars to cease,
bring your shalom, Lord, O great Prince of peace.
7. Great King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven's joys, bright heaven's Sun.
Rule in my heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
Note: The tune SLANE is known in two slightly different forms in order to accommodate two familiar texts, "Be Thou My Vision" and "Lord of All Hopefulness." "Be Thou My Vision" (10 10 9 10) ends each line with a dotted half and begins the next phrase on the downbeat; whereas "Lord of All Hopefulness (10 11 11 12) ends each line with a half note and pick-up to the next phrase. Accompanists should make sure they are playing from the first, not the second form of the tune.
Abraham Hoff adapted the text of the ancient Irish poem "Be Thou My Vision" to fit the themes of this Advent series. Each week, different stanzas are selected, always including the first and final stanza.