Lights Unto the World

Lights Unto The World

The matches pop and flare
the flames flicker at the wicks
and catch, reaching upward
God’s covenant in a candle
God’s promise in a flame

Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam

O come, o come Emmanuel

First night, first light
One thin straight candle on the right
One fat round candle on the circle

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah

God comes to the chosen ones in the winter’s cold
God stands by the chosen ones in the darkness

… thou dayspring come, and cheer our spirits by thine Advent here

…who performed miracles for our ancestors at this season

Four Sundays in a row, fat candles
stand in the wreath
They burn in turn and are extinguished before they are spent
so that by the fourth lighting
the first is short and the fourth is barely used
On Christmas Eve a fifth is added — the Christ candle

Eight nights in a row, thin candles
stand in the menorah
in celebration of the time
when one vial lasted as long as eight
They burn down each night to tiny remnants of wax
to be replaced anew

Blessed are you, Lord, who gave us life and kept us and delivered us to this time

Bid envy, strife and discord cease; Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace

One table, one family
Two sets of candles
God’s covenant with a people
And God’s promise in a man

— Virginia Gilbert, January 2004


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