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Why the Song of Songs is perfect to read during Advent


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Philip Kosloski - published on 12/01/23

The Song of Songs may not seem to be a book for the Advent season, but a closer look reveals it to be a beautiful meditation on longing for God.

One of the most curious books in the Bible is the Song of Songs, (sometimes called the “Song of Solomon” or the “Canticle of Canticles”). The book itself is not written in modern prose, but contains ancient poetry.

Pope Benedict XVI explains, in his encyclical God Is Love, a little background on the book:

According to the interpretation generally held today, the poems contained in this book were originally love-songs, perhaps intended for a Jewish wedding feast and meant to exalt conjugal love.

At first glance this may not seem like a book in any way connected to Advent, but a more broader interpretation of this book reveals a beautiful spiritual reflection.

St. John Paul II explained in a general audience in 1984 how, “The words, movements and gestures of the spouses correspond to the interior movement of their hearts. It is possible to understand the language of the body only through the prism of this movement.”

He also added in a general audience in 1999 how, “The Song of Songs should be understood and interpreted in this sense, transfiguring the beauty of human love into the spousal dialogue between God and his people.

When we read the Song of Songs, we should be thinking of God’s love for us and our love for God.

Longing for the beloved

A large portion of the book is about longing and desire for the beloved. The first chapter is full of this type of language.

O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!
For your love is better than wine,
your anointing oils are fragrant,
your name is oil poured out;
therefore the maidens love you.
Draw me after you, let us make haste.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
We will exult and rejoice in you;
we will extol your love more than wine;
rightly do they love you.

Song of Songs 1:1-4

There are many other examples throughout the book, like the following verses that cries out for the Beloved, who is coming.

The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle,
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.

Song of Songs 2:8-9

During Advent we look forward to Jesus coming to us, not only on the historical day of his birth, but also at the end of time.

If you are looking for spiritual reading during Advent, consider opening the Song of Songs, awakening in yourself a desire and longing for God, while also hearing the words of the Bridegroom and his love for you.

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