I learned something new today. Recently I have been studying semiology. Semiology is a fancy word which means the study of the signs of a particular language, in my case, the sign-language of Gregorian chant. In this week’s offertory, I noticed a common sign to us English speakers, but one I’ve never seen in chant semiology — it was an X. A more experienced chanter next to me leaned over and said that this “X” means to wait…and is a sign used very intentionally and symbolically in this season of Advent.
It’s a small notation, this X, and a small space is meant to be put in when singing the text. But perhaps this ancient composer had something to say to us today about waiting. I don’t like waiting. Maybe it’s part of growing up in the computer age, with instant access to nearly everything. I find myself getting anxious, feeling unproductive, even guilty…and embarrassingly, upset with God, sometimes very upset. I like clear, concrete answers from God which don’t happen every day the way I’d like. And so there’s waiting. Perhaps the placement of this little X promises something about God.
The text for the offertory from Psalm 25 reads: “Do not let my enemies mock me”, X “for no-one who waits for you shall be ashamed.”
That’s a promise I’d like to hang on to. Maybe today there are X’s in my daily drive…places to just pause slightly, even to notice the little X. I hope I will slow myself down enough to not miss Him and His promises.