The painting above of the Madonna and Child above is by Bellini.
Christmas is almost here. The waning days of Advent need a lively tune. We’re recommending “On Jordan’s Bank.”
You can find it in almost every hymnal, and the tune is a familiar one. Don’t drag the tempo, for this ¾ hymn has a fine walking rhythm, one you could sing while marching from Advent right into the days of Christmas.
The lyrics even give John the Baptist a seasonally merry gloss,
Come, then and hearken,
for he brings, glad tidings
from the King of Kings.
“Glad” is not a word one associates with the wild baptizer, he who called the crowds, “You brood of vipers!” and warned them of the “coming wrath.” But, the fifth, and final, verse of the hymn says that Christs’ “advent sets Thy people free.” Perhaps freeing even grim John to rejoice.
Listen to the hymn sung with organ accompaniment here:
Listen to the hymn chanted here: