Wonder and wander are two of my favorite words.
Wonder – to marvel, astonishment, awe, to ponder with curiosity
To live each day with a vision of wonder opens up grand possibilities.
Wander – to meander, stroll, to take one direction without intention or control
I wandered the world, paying attention to the beauty God alone created.
I have wondered and wandered through Advent this year. Wondered at its varied dimensions, like studying the facets of a priceless diamond. Wandered open to the lessons God chose for me or invited me to explore.
No wonder I wandered into remembering the Christmas song, I Wonder as I Wander. I wondered about its story. (Ok I over did it with that sentence but it was just too tempting….sorry)
I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.
When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.
The words of this haunting hymn take us to the Appalachian hills of North Carolina. Folklorist and songwriter John Jacob Niles heard fragments of the tune on a cold December night in 1933 and pieced together this song.
Niles wrote, “I Wonder As I Wander grew out of three lines of music sung for me by a girl who called herself Annie Morgan.
The place was Murphy, North Carolina,and the time was July, 1933. The Morgan family, revivalists all, were about to be ejected by the police, after having camped in the town square for some little time, coking, washing, hanging their wash from the Confederate monument and generally conducting themselves in such a way as to be classed a public nuisance. Preacher Morgan and his wife pled poverty; they had to hold one more meeting in order to buy enough gas to get out of town.
It was then that Annie Morgan came out–a tousled, unwashed blond, and very lovely. She sang the first three lines of the verse of “I Wonder As I Wander”. At twenty-five cents a performance, I tried to get her to sing all the song. After eight tries, all of which are carefully recorded in my notes, I had only three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material–and a magnificent idea.
With the writing of additional verses and the development of the original melodic material, “I Wonder As I Wander” came into being. I sang it for five years in my concerts before it caught on. Since then, it has been sung by soloists and choral groups wherever the English language is spoken and sung.”
Niles wandered through Appalachia gathering treasured wonders of folk music.
I wandered through Advent gathering treasured wonders of God – new lessons, preparing my heart of His coming.
The wonders of Advent wait for all of us, even “For poor on’ry people like you and like I.”
We wander through His creation of “a star in the sky, or a bird on the wing.”
And because Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall”
We bow down in worship “’cause he was the King.”
And still is our King.
What have you wondered about during this Advent season?Written by