Editor’s Note: DCSC Volunteer Airianna Beitler shares the power of music this time of year and the uniting joy it brings. 

This Advent is very different than we all expected it to be due to COVID-19. As I am reflecting on everything that brings me joy during this season, I can’t help but remember all of the music that is a part of this season. When you think of the music that brings the spirit of this time, it is so joyful and full of hope.

I grew up waiting oh-so impatiently for these hymns and songs that are played this time of year. They are tied to wonderful memories of this season. I have been trying to keep hope alive this year for myself and my community. As a way to do this, my housemates and I have been watching and listening to music that brings us joy. As we grappled with the changes throughout the year, we put on Christmas music. Nobody grumbled about it being too early for this music, and we all just started singing along. With this, you could feel the life coming back into this house like a fresh cup of cool water after being dehydrated for too long.

It was so refreshing and life-giving to do this one little thing that brought back so many memories. Sometimes it is something as small as a song or music to bring so much immeasurable joy. 

Music has always been a way for people to express themselves, and that is no different during Advent. A song can be so much more than words set to music; it can be an entire story or a whole slew of memories.

One such song for me is “O Holy Night,” whichever version you want to listen to. This song tells about the three wise men, who are following a star to Bethlehem, to see the newborn king. Though we know the rest of the story, it still gets me every time: just how much joy this little baby brought into the world. I have so many memories attached to this song, and I think that it brings a good reminder to this year. 

When I was little, my papa would sing Christmas songs as we waited for Santa and he would tell me the story of the nativity (after we really poorly sang “O Holy Night” together before bed). 

The next memory was my first Advent season as a college student, which was a hard change for me. We started singing “O Holy Night” as the Christmas tree was being lit. 

When I was in Rome, I was missing my family like many others I was with. It’s particularly hard this time of year with homesickness, and I just remember someone started singing this song. Slowly but surely, the whole house was singing and it was haunting but beautiful. I cried as I was singing, pouring my feelings into this song of hope and joy. It was such a relief to give the sadness up to then bring in the joy and hope that always comes with this song. It was like the whole house took a sigh of relief and rekindled our hope. 

Whenever this year has been overwhelming, I would play that song and sing along. I offer up those feelings that do me no good and give into the hope that this song gives.

This Advent season, remember those tunes that gives you feelings of hope and joy. Those little moments and memories mean more than we ever know until we need them to remind us that there is so much joy and hope in this world amidst the darkness.