Today the western Church celebrates The Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word which begins the Introit (Entrance Chant), evoking the words of Paul to the early Christians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice.” (Phil 4:4) It is a brief respite in a season of penitential expectation. The violet vestments of the priest are exchanged for a reminiscent yet more joyful shade of rose (which is not to be confused with pink). There is also more allowance for instrumental music during the Mass, than elsewhere in the Advent season.
Several years ago, on this day at the Church of St John the Beloved, the homily spoke of John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness speaking the hard truth in the face of opposition.
“Pontius Pilate conducted a poll. ‘Who do you want, Jesus or Barabbas?’ The people chose Barabbas, and they have been choosing Barabbas ever since.”
It is no different today, yet the message ignored through the ages still gives reason for celebration, as those who remain faithful enter into eternal joy. In this video, the Kings College Choir of Cambridge perform a motet by Henry Purcell (1659-1695) entitled “Rejoice in the Lord Alway (‘The Bell Anthem’).” This writer sang this one many years ago while a chorister at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown. It remains a favorite to this day.
[The above was first published for this occasion in 2009. It has been updated to feature the choral piece with which yours truly is more familiar. -- DLA]