Bringing Solace to All

Thank you to all the Chapel folk who participated in sharing a special carol or hymn during this Advent season.  Here is the last of the series from Nick Wonder who introduced us to this Ukrainian carol last night during our Christmas Eve service.

Stay tuned for another Lenten series of reflections to begin in late February, just around the corner!

 

Boh Predvichny   [Romanized version of Cyrillic original]

Boh Predvichny narodyvsia.

(2x) Pryishov dnes’ iz nebes,

Shchob spasty liud sviy ves’

I utishyvsia.

 

V Vyfleyemi narodyvsia

(2x) Mesiya, Khrystos nash

I Pan nash dlia vsikh nas

Nam narodyvsia.

 

“Slava Bohu!” zaspivaymo!

(2x) Chest’ Synu Bozhomu

I Panu nashomu

Poklin’ viddaymo.

 

Anonymous English translation:

The Pre-Eternal God

The pre-eternal God is born!

(2x) He has come today from Heaven

To save all His people

And to bring solace to all

 

In Bethlehem is born

(2x) The Messiah, Christ our God;

For all of us

He is born.

 

“Glory to God,” we all sing;

(2x) Honor we render to God’s Son,

And before our Savior

We bow down.

 

Holy Silence

During this Christmas season, I’ve been thinking . . .
why is silence so often part of Christmas?
It appears in many of our Christmas Carols.
Indeed, it is part of our celebration tonight –
we are not ending with the Hallelujah Chorus;
we are ending in quietness, singing Silent Night.
– Well, I have come up with two reasons
for this theme of silence in regard to Christmas.
1. God Doesn’t Need Fanfare to Do His Work.

 Oh, there are some times
when God puts on a cosmic extravaganza.
But his most personal revelations, have not been . . .
in the strong wind which rips mountains apart,
in the earthquake which shakes the earth
in the fire which rages . . .
But in a “still small voice” which whispers in the silence –
In a Baby humbly born, not a King coming with his army.

So, it is appropriate that we sing:
How silently, how silently, 
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts 
The blessings of His Heaven
And . . .
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here 
the silent Word is pleading.
Or, as Cutzi reminded us Sunday:
You Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame
But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow . . .

God does not need fanfare to do His work.

Then, I think of a second reason for the silence.
2. God Holy Presence Always Leaves Us Dumbstruck.
In the birth of Jesus –
in the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us –
The world is confronted by God’s holy presence:
His absolute otherness
His absolute purity
His unadulterated goodness, grace, majesty, glory, etc.
And, throughout the scriptures,
when God displays His holy presence,
people are often left unable to respond.
Isaiah puts hid hand over his mouth (so to speak)
realizing that he was unfit to speak in God’s presence.
 So it is appropriate, that when we sing of Christ’s coming –
of the Holy Presence of God appearing in our midst –
that we sing words like,
“Let all mortal flesh keep silence!”
 Or, the song with which we close tonight . .
“Silent Night, Holy Night. – 
It was a silent night because it was a holy night
 And God’s holy presence always leaves us dumbstruck.
~Pastor Bert Hitchcock
Silent night!  Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night!  Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar
heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ, the Savior is born!
Silent night!  Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
   

O Great Mystery

O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum
O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum
Ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
Viderent Dominum natum
Jacentem in proesepio, jacentem in proesepio

O beata virgo, cujus viscera me ruerunt portare
Dominum Jesum Christum

Alleluja, Alleluja, Alleluja
Alleluja, Alleluja, Alleluja
Alleluja!

English translation:

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!
~traditional chant from Matins, music from Morten Larudisen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y9yM53TowA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7ch7uottHU
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

He appeared in the flesh,
    was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
    was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
    was taken up in glory.
1Timothy 3:16

Perhaps it is the mystery of the thing that brings us back, again and again, to read the story.
How can this be?  God appearing on earth first to animals, then the most humble of humans.
How can He be?  Through the will of the Father and the breath of the Spirit, the Son was, and is and yet to be.

O great mystery beyond all understanding.

~Emily Gibson

 

 

Consider What Our Good God For Us Has Done

This Christmas I want to introduce what may (or may not) be a new carol to you. Certainly it isn’t new. Some sources date it back to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest (European) carols still being sung. But I somehow managed not to hear it until a couple of years ago, on a recording of Yo Yo Ma and Alison Kraus. The music swept me away.

But what about the lyrics? I mean, that’s what really matters. So I listened carefully. Having been raised a traditional Protestant (potlucks, flannel-graphs, sword drills and all) my radar pinged with a reference to praying and Mary. But grammar and prepositions matter. The song encourages us to pray TO God WITH Mary, and I can get on board with that. We sing her Magnificat:

My soul will magnify the Lord
I rejoice in God my Savior
He has done great things for me

The lyrics – five verses of them – tell the story from Luke 2. Mary and Joseph unable to find lodging in Bethlehem, shepherds with their flocks, wise men following a star.

But it’s the first verse that’s my favorite, reminding us to consider well and bear in mind what our good God has done in sending His beloved Son.

Something I always need reminding of, in this Joy to the Whirled season.

~Julie Garrett

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark how all things came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Savior Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah was
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet

 

Merry Christmas!

Why Be Sad?

1. On Christmas night all Christians sing
To hear what news those angels bring;
News of great joy, news of great mirth,
News of our Saviour King’s own birth.

2. Then why should men on earth be so sad
Since our Redeemer made us glad,
When from sin He set us free
All for to gain our liberty.

3. Now sin depart, behold His grace,
Everlasting life comes in its place,
And soon we shall its terror see
And poor and rich must conquered be.

4. Then out of darkness we see light,
Which makes all angels to sing this night
Glory to God and peace to men
Both now and evermore. Amen.
Traditional English Carol collected by Ralph Vaughn Williams

This day, of all days,  we are reminded that we are set free through God joining with us, walking with us, telling us His story through His Word, and suffering with and for us.  He knows us as we are and we need not hide from Him.    So why be sad?  He has come to us, this Child of God and man.  This song’s lilting melody reminds us of the joy we celebrate today.

~Emily Gibson

Quiet, Soft and Slow

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
with all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
with the power of heaven in your flame
                 
But you came like a winter snow
quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
to the earth below

Could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
to wipe away the things we’ve scarred

No, your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden
~Chris Tomlin “Winter Snow”

Thank you to Cutzi Jobes who sang this song for our congregation during last Sunday’s worship

 

The Gift He Gave

One of the most delightful things I have ever seen in a children’s Christmas program, was the singing of this song, by children whose faces were surrounded by large, animal, cardboard cutouts.

At first, I thought the song quaint but rather meaningless.  Upon further reflection, however, I believe it holds before us a serious truth.  The scriptures say that the whole creation longs for the appearing of the Savior.  Should we not also, then, conclude that the whole creation delighted in His birth?  Are the psalms not full of references to various living creatures worshiping the Lord?  Perhaps it is not so far fetched to give voice to the animals surrounding Christ’s birth – which is  what this song attempts to do.
Beyond that, it subtly challenges all of us, to think whether we have given whatever we are and have – be it ever so simple – as a gift to Immanuel.
~Pastor Bert Hitchcock

This song has it roots in a 12th century Latin song “Orientis Partibus”, but when it made its way into England it began to take on its modern form.  The song as we know it, seems to have come from Robert Davis in the 1930s — with some variations, as people continue to write additional verses.

Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town.”
“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

“I,” said the cow all white and red
“I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave him my hay to pillow his head.”
“I,” said the cow all white and red.

“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.”
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn.

“I,” said the dove from the rafters high,
“I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry;
We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I.”
“I,” said the dove from the rafters high.

Thus every beast by some good spell,
In the stable dark was glad to tell
Of the gift he gave Immanuel,
The gift he gave Immanuel.