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See, amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on Earth below,
See, the tender Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.

Chorus:
Hail, thou ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He who, throned in height sublime,
Sits among the cherubim.

Say, ye holy shepherds, say,
What your joyful news today;
Wherefore have ye left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?

“As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light:
Angels singing ‘Peace On Earth’
Told us of the Saviour’s birth.”

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.

Teach, O teach us, Holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.
Written by Edward Caswall with the music composed by John Goss.

This 19th Century English carol has unfortunately remained outside the typical American repertoire of Christmas Carols. The work is composed of six verses that functionally serve as a conversation between the angel who is come to proclaim the birth of the Savior and the shepherds to whom the angel appeared. Both angel and shepherd stand in awe of what has just happened: that the very Word by which the earth was created now dwells among us.

The early church father, St. Athanasius, suggests that because it was Christ as the Divine Word who was our creator (Colossians 1:15-23), it is He who must serve as our re-creator. It is this same Christ, the promise of mankind from all eternity, who was born for us on earth below. On that first night, what a blessing it is to catch a glimpse of the fulfillment of these promises. In the fellowship of shepherds and angels, sharing the joy of the Son of God made incarnate, we are given a brief picture of heaven, that eternal joy, the eternal proclamation of Christ as King. We are given the briefest glimpse of what it will mean for heaven and earth to come together in common purpose: an eternity dedicated to knowing the breadth of what it means to hail Christ as King.

When I hear this song, the chorus is the shared hymn of angels and shepherds, of saints and sinners. In Christ, the highest in heaven and the lowest on earth are given the boldness and joy to sing through all Jerusalem. Where beings as different as angels and humans can stand together in praise of Christ we are given encouragement. All races, all languages, all cultures will someday stand together praising Christ. On that first night we were assured of this as the perfection of an angel and the weakness of a shepherd shared this joy. Standing before Christ, angels and humanity say together “Teach, O teach us, holy Child, by thy face so meek and mild, teach us to resemble thee, in thy sweet humility.”

~Ben Gibson

Veiled in Flesh

O Christ, our King, Creator, Lord,
Savior of all who trust Thy Word,
To them who seek Thee ever near,
Now to our praises bend Thine ear.

In Thy dear cross a grace is found,
It flows from every streaming wound,
Whose power our inbred sin controls,
Breaks the firm bond, and frees our souls.

Thou didst create the stars of night,
Yet Thou hast veiled in flesh Thy light,
Hast deigned a mortal form to wear,
A mortal’s painful lot to bear.

When Thou didst hang upon the tree,
The quaking earth acknowledged Thee,
When Thou didst there yield up Thy breath
The world grew dark as shades of death.

Now in the Father’s glory high
Great Conqueror, never more to die,
Us by Thy mighty power defend,
And reign through ages without end.
~Gregory the Great

This is not a Christmas carol but it is a hymn that has been on my mind the last few months– O Christ our King, Creator, Lord written by Gregory the Great. It is a lovely combining of melody and poetry. The third verse expresses what many Christmas carols say, but in its own beautiful way:
Thou did’st create the stars of night;
yet thou hast veiled in flesh thy light,
hast deigned a mortal’s form to wear,
a mortal’s painful lot to bear.
I love this image of the Lord’s life as a veiled light, “a mellowed brightness,” as another once said. Sometimes the pain of this world is crushing and sometimes the darkness very heavy. I think we tend to expect our own lives to be bright and merry, and we work on that and then when they are not we are discouraged. But Jesus didn’t work on that. He came to bear a painful lot–to enter into our suffering and the suffering our sins deserve–and his whole brief, glimmering life was bent on that one task, because of love for me and love for you. “For those you have given me,” he said when he was praying to his father. For that joy set before him, he became one of us. This gives me joy, and love for him this Christmas.

 

~Hosanna Lovegren

 

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
And usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with afright,
But hear the angel’s warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.

This night of wonder, night of joy,
was born the Christ, our brother;
he comes, not mighty to destroy,
to bid us love each other.
How could he quit his kingly state
for such a world of greed and hate?
What deep humiliation
secured the world’s salvation!

Come, dearest child, into our hearts,
and leave your crib behind you!
Let this be where the new life starts
for all who seek and find you.
To you the honor, thanks, and praise,
for all your gifts this time of grace;
come, conquer and deliver
this world, and us, forever.

Words, verse 1: Johann Rist, 1641;
trans. John Troutbeck, ca. 1885; Words: vv. 2 & 3 by Fred Pratt Green

_______________________________________________________

The first time I ever heard this carol was when my father picked it for our family to sing for a church “gift exchange”.  I thought it odd.  I’d not heard it before and wondered why we couldn’t just sing something more familiar — some nice simple Christmas carol about that night in Bethlehem.

As an adult, however, I have come to understand and therefore love this hymn.  Let’s take a walk through it and I’ll explain why:

Verse 1:

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
And usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with afright,
But hear the angel’s warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.

Oh, how I have grown to see the darkness of the world we live in!  Evil really does exist.  School shootings, terrorists, destructive relationships in families that effect the children– these are but a few of the dark things that weigh on my mind.  And sometimes that darkness seems overwhelming, not only to me, but evidently to many others.  Today is December 21 — the winter solstice. When I picked this carol, the first line made me think about that so I looked up celebrations for the winter solstice.  One website suggested a “Candlelight Ceremony” where all the lights are out and participants “remember and honor the sun’s light” before starting with a big candle and lighting smaller one’s off  of it to fill the room with light.  Sound familiar?  We will be doing this during this Advent season.  HOWEVER, we will do it to honor the SON — that child spoken of in this verse who came to break the power of darkness — Satan’s power — and give us peace.  It is He who created the light of morning; it is He who is the Source, not only of that physical light but also of the light which overcomes the darkness of our world.

Verse 2:

This night of wonder, night of joy,
was born the Christ, our brother;
he comes, not mighty to destroy,
to bid us love each other.
How could he quit his kingly state
for such a world of greed and hate?
What deep humiliation
secured the world’s salvation!

Though my reason for picking this hymn is mostly found in verse 1, I had to highlight verse 2 for one simple reason.  The song “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns has been an important one for me this past year as it has made me realize that Jesus left the glory of Heaven — His “kingly state” referred to in this carol,  to come HERE — to this dark, fallen world!  What a sacrifice!  It has struck me this year as I lament the evil and darkness of the world around me; Jesus willingly came here, knowing how messed up this world is, to “secure the world’s salvation!”  What a gift!

Verse 3:

Come, dearest child, into our hearts,
and leave your crib behind you!
Let this be where the new life starts
for all who seek and find you.
To you the honor, thanks, and praise,
for all your gifts this time of grace;
come, conquer and deliver
this world, and us, forever.

So today, let us honor, give thanks to ,and praise Jesus, the Son of God, who came to break the power of darkness in this world and in us.  Let our prayer truly be “Come, conquer and deliver this world, and us, forever.”  And may that prayer give us purpose and peace as we live our lives for Him.

~Tricia Hitchcock

 

 

For All, Great and Small

Do You Hear What I Hear

Said the night wind to the little lamb.
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see

A star a star dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear

A song A song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the seas,
With a voice as big as the seas

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace warm mighty king
Do you know what I know

A child a child shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

Said the king to the people everywhere,
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say

The child the child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light
- By Noel Regney & Gloria Shayne, husband & wife

 

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

- Thus began the telling of the Gospel of the Incarnate Christ and the pattern was formed: The Gospel is for all, great and small and shall be told from person to person.  This song also tells us that Jesus is both a humble babe and the King to whom even the king of the song gives honor as the bringer of goodness and light.  Shepherd boys and whole governments will give Him honor and tell of his coming and of His saving grace.  The first time that I ever heard this song was on the radio in Seattle in the early ‘60’s and was by Bing Crosby. His version remains as my favorite.

~Chris Lovegren

 

 

That Woe is Me

For about four years up until this last summer I’ve gotten to be a part of a little homeschooled choir; and a couple of years ago we all had decided to perform “Coventry Carol” for the upcoming Christmas concert. Only a handful of us had actually heard the song; it was hauntingly beautiful, beautifully sorrowful, and eye-opening in a sorrowful kind of way.
The original Coventry Carol was an a capella written for a pageant in the 1600’s, and was sung by three mothers carrying three little children onstage. The words go like this:
Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Lullay, thou little tiny Child,

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,

For to preserve this day

This poor youngling for whom we do sing

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,

Charged he hath this day

His men of might, in his own sight,

All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!

And ever mourn and sigh,

For thy parting neither say nor sing,

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Coventry Carol was meant to be a lullaby, the last lullaby, sung for the mothers of Bethlehem two thousand years ago. It was written from this verse in Matthew;

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and it’s vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”  (Matthew 2:16)

And it echoes the following passage:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve read over these words without paying close attention, but ever since singing Coventry Carol with my choir I can’t help but wonder at the sadness I couldn’t possibly understand.

Because I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child. I cannot imagine what it means to live a life knowing you were given such a gift as a baby, had watched him grow and raised him as best as you could and have him ripped from your arms knowing you would never see him again.

And yet, I cannot possibly imagine either, what it would be like to find out that someday, you would see him again. For the night those children died at the hands of soldiers, the one child that lived was the only Way that each of those mothers could someday again hold their children in their arms, and He would be their comfort and hope until that day.

While Coventry Carol’s melancholy tune seemed out of place alongside “Joy to the World” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, if you think long and hard enough about it you’ll find where it belongs. It’s a prelude. A prelude to every song happily sung during the season of Christmas. Because only until we understand why joy was brought to the world and why the angels sang will we understand the true joy of Christmas.

~Abbey Drury

Sound the Chorus!

WHO CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH?
by James McGranahan

One of my fondest memories growing up was singing from the “LET YOUTH PRAISE HIM” song book from L.C school days where this song came right after the Christmas section. As a family we have sung this song often as we gathered around the dinner table at Christmas. In my research I discovered this song was not well known and what made it more intriguing to me was the asterisk in the margin declaring it was a song that was “suitable” for primary students. Well I beg to differ as I believe that the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us in ways that we can understand. There is no theological hairsplitting here! The author of this song is no stranger to many of us, more about him later.

  1. Who came down from heaven to earth?   Jesus Christ, our Savior,

Came a child of lowly birth?                         Jesus Christ, our Savior. [chorus]

  1. Who was lifted on the cross?                        Jesus Christ, our Savior,

There to bear all pain and loss?                  Jesus Christ, our Savior. [chorus]

  1. Who hath promised to forgive?                   Jesus Christ, our Savior,

Who hath said, “believe and live”?               Jesus Christ, our Savior. [chorus]

  1. Who is now enthroned above?                    Jesus Christ, our Savior,

Whom should we obey and love?                 Jesus Christ, our Savior. [chorus]

  1. Who again from heaven shall come?           Jesus Christ, our Savior,

Take to glory all His own?                               Jesus Christ, our Savior. [chorus]

CHORUS!

Sound the chorus load and clear; He has brought salvation near;

None so precious, none so dear,   JESUS CHRIST OUR SAVIOR.

Do take notice how all the lines pose a Question. What an opportunity to talk to others and your children about these questions!

The following is not comprehensive so please include your own scripture texts.

John 3:13-15. “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [see song VERSES 1,2&3]

John 3: 16-17. “FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.” [see song VERSES 2&3.]

John 6: 38-40. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. “[see song VERSES 1,3 & 5.]

Romans 6: 22-23. “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and in the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [see song VERSE 4]

Acts 1:11b.”This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” [ see song VERSE 5]

The final promise. “ TAKE TO GLORY ALL HIS OWN! [see song VERSE 5 ]

Revelation 21: 3-4. “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:22, 22:3-5. “ But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” And He showed me a pure river of water of life. Clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there ; They need no lamp nor light of sun, for the Lord gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Verse 20 MARANATHA!!!

This Chorus should be shouted! Psalm 105: 1b. Our commission “Make known His deeds among the People” Jesus Christ our savior!! Acts 4:10b-11-12”that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there found salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Have a blessed Christmas from the Nick Laninga’s

by Nick Laninga

P.S. For more on James McGranahan come to the Wiser Lake Chapel’s Christmas evening of Carols Christmas eve at 7:P.M.

 

 

 

Still — All is Well

Still, Still, Still (a traditional Austrian Christmas lullaby)

As I looked for all the words to this carol that I love to listen to, I found three versions, four if you count the original German ones. It seems like the succeeding versions lose some of the strong meaning of the first translation. It shows the very human traits of baby sleeping and his mother caring. This is no ordinary baby. He is God’s kiss of love to each of us and we respond by opening our hearts to him in anticipation of our heavenly home.

But the power of this carol is found in the marriage of the music and the words. The soothing harmonies and quiet flowing of the rhythm and melody make this my favorite carol. When I listen it makes me fell at peace in my soul and still before my Savior. Maybe you’ll agree. I think Michael W. Smith did because he wrote a contemporary version which I enjoy equally as much.

~Nancy Matheis

Deutsch
Still, still, still
“Salzburger Volkslieder”
Aus Salzburg, 1819

Still, still, still,
Weil’s Kindlein schlafen will.
Die Englein tun schön jubilieren,
Bei dem Kripplein musizieren.
Still, still, still,
Weil’s Kindlein schlafen will.

Schlaf, schlaf, schlaf,
Mein liebes Kindlein schlaf!
Maria tut dich niedersingen
Und ihr treues Herz darbringen.
Schlaf, schlaf, schlaf,
Mein liebes Kindlein schlaf!

Groß, groß, groß
Die Lieb ist übergroß!
Gott hat den Himmelsthron verlassen
Und muss reisen auf der Straßen.
Groß, groß, groß
Die Lieb’ ist übergroß.

Wir, wir, wir,
Tun rufen all zu dir:
Tu uns des Himmels Reich aufschließen,
Wenn wir einmal sterben müssen.
Wir, wir, wir,
Wir rufen all zu dir.

English
Still, still, still
From Salzburg, 1819
Literal English translation – HF

Still, still, still,
‘Cause baby wants to sleep.
The angels jubilate beautifully,
By the manger making music.
Still, still, still,
‘Cause baby wants to sleep.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
My dear babe sleep!
Maria sings you a lullaby
And brings you her true heart.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
My dear babe sleep!

Great, great, great,
The love is more than great!
God has left his throne
And must go by road.
Great, great, great,
The love is more than great.

We, we, we,
All do call out to you:
Open heaven’s realm to us,
If we must die one day.
We, we, we,
We all call out to you.

 

Still/the child’s eyes softly close/and Mary, breathless, draws Him, weeping/to her heart, so pure, for keeping/Still/His bright eyes softly close//Sing/He hears and sweetly smiles/and kneeling, Joseph joins in chorus/with the angels bending o’er us/Sing/He hears and sweetly smiles//Sleep/He breathes a tender sigh/for soon He’ll wake the world from slumber/bringing life and endless wonder//Sleep/He breathes a tender sigh//Sleep Holy Jesus, sleep.

 

Still, Still, Still

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come

 

All is Well

Words: Wayne Kirkpatrick
Music: Michael W. Smith
In this contemporary version Wayne Kirkpatrick has stayed closer to the original meaning of the carol and paraphrased it in modern verse. Again the same union of words and the music that Michael W. Smith wrote make this a powerful statement of praise and hope. All is well because God’s love plan came to a manger. He is our Lord and Savior, Emmanuel, God with us!! Alleluia!!

~Nancy Matheis

All is well all is well
Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell
Into the dawn of love’s light
Sing A-le
Sing Alleluia
All is well all is well
Let there be peace on earth
Christ is come go and tell
That He is in the manger
Sing A-le
Sing Alleluia

All is well all is well
Lift up your voice and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia
Sing Alleluia
All is well

Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia
Sing Alleluia
All is well

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