Tag Archives: joy over fear

Hymn: Enter, Rejoice, and Come In

Hymn: “Enter, Rejoice, and Come In” (#361 in UU hymnal, words and music by Louise Ruspini) 

This holiday season here in San Diego is cloudier than the weather we’ve had most of the time since our move here in May. When I first wrote this entry mid-November, we were having a foggy morning. I think of fog as calming, slowing down the pace of life. (Often it also slows the flow of automobile traffic, either through caution or through accident…)  Therefore it’s somewhat counterintuitive that the hymn that came into my mind as the day’s theme was among the “peppiest” of UU hymns. 

This year again we do not have holiday travel plans. Again, we will do our extended family gatherings virtually, wishing for a weakening of the pandemic before next Christmas. At some future time, we’ll have a chance to gather physically, once the infection rate is a lot lower. Perhaps the theme to this hymn can apply to virtual “entries” as well as physical ones:  

“Enter, rejoice, and come in, enter rejoice and come in,
Today will be a joyful day, enter, rejoice and come in.” 

We’re quite fortunate to have the capacity and technical ability to be able to do video conferencing this year. That calls for at least a minimum of rejoicing. 

This hymn about “entering” has a simple set of words, with a lively beat and a lot of repetition. I’ve previously sung it in choirs in several different settings. It typically is used as an “entrance hymn” for festive occasions. This year, it’s festive enough just to be alive and well. 

This Christmas Eve, we’ve just experienced a “real rain,” a somewhat rare event in our lives here so far—over an inch at the gauge I optimistically stationed in our small back yard yesterday. Our part of southern California could use more rain, though drought conditions here have been less severe than further north. The moisture is welcome, especially when some of it comes down gently. A Christmas gift a little early? Another minor cause for rejoicing. 

Postal and email holiday cards from faraway friends have reminded us of the varieties of pandemic responses in different parts of the world—Australian friends have endured six lockdowns so far in the urban center where they live. Yet between surges, they’ve been able to travel some in more rural areas, benefiting from the absence of foreign tourists and the relatively uncrowded conditions. 

This hymn’s second and third verses speak to the different senses we can use in celebration: (2) Open your ears to the song; (3) Open your hearts ev’ryone…

In past years, I’ve sometimes gotten hung up on verse 4: 

“Don’t be afraid of some change, don’t be afraid of some change,
Today will be a joyful day, enter, rejoice and come in.”

This year has seen so much change, some of it intentional, some of it a result of factors and viruses so far beyond anyone’s complete control, that learning to befriend change rather than fear it seems practical advice. 

If there are good antidotes for fear, one of them has to be joy, so the hymn’s words are apt, especially the repetition of welcome in verse 5:

“Enter, rejoice, and come in!”  

May the joy of holiday welcomes, in person or virtual, be with you and yours, wherever and however spread out you may be!