Do You Hear What I Hear?

The first time I sang this piece was when I was in the High School Choir.  I thought it was one of the most beautiful pieces of the season ever written.  It is!  But my repertoire has broadened and there is so much to listen too that I might put it in my top ten at this point.

Many of the Christmas Carols that have stood the test of time have an interesting background.  Do You Hear What I Hear? is no exception.  It was written in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a plea for peace.

It’s always been amazing to me that when our world is at its worst people put out their best.  The group singing this is Home Free.  If you’re not familiar with their music check them out on YouTube.  They’re another of the many acapella groups that fit my need for pure musical sound.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Away In A Manger

Another of my favorite Christmas carols is often considered a children’s song.  That might be partly because it first appeared in print in 1885 in a Sunday School Bulletin published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America.  It has long been attributed to Martin Luther but it is highly unlikely one of his writings.  It is first seen in Germany in 1934 as part of a private collection of songs and is clearly a translation from English to German.  All of that aside the song has stood the test of time.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

Of the 3 verses the last speaks most fervently to my heart.  Sometimes the words pop into my mind even at other times of the year.  It says some very important things to me.

First, Jesus is always with me.  I don’t have to ask for His presence.

Second, He loves me and will continue loving me forever.

Next, I receive blessings upon blessings because it’s what He wants to do for me.

Last, I will be with Him in heaven for eternity.

What more does one need?

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Information in the first paragraph is found at this address: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-away-in-a-manger

The Holly and The Ivy

I would be hard-pressed to name one Christmas song or carol that I really don’t like.  As a vocalist, there are some that are hard to sing or are written in keys that are not good for me.  I could listen to Christmas music all year long.

As a student of Music History, I learned that the carol was originally a Greek word that meant a circle dance with flute accompaniment.  Later on, the dance was accompanied by singers.  Somehow those singers began using songs with religious meanings and these became carols.

There are very few known Christmas Carols before the 1800’s.  One of these is a favorite of mine called “The Holly and the Ivy“.  The religious reference in this early carol is “…and Mary bore Lord Jesus Christ to be our Sweet Savior…”  (Luke 2:6)  The chorus of this carol is a reference to everyday life and the God-created world around us.  “The rising of the sun and the running of the deer the playing of the merry organ sweet singing in the choir.”

Heavenly Father open our eyes to the mystery, beauty, and miracles of this Holy Season.  Thank You for the greatest gift of all, Jesus. 

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Article first published on 12-7-11.

In Dolce Jubilo

 I love the sound, the feel, the smoothness of ancient songs.  Good Christian Men Rejoice appears in a manuscript housed in Leipsic, Germany c. 1400.  From that time on many of the early composers, Buxtehude and Bach included, used the tune in organ and vocal music settings.  The Latin words were interspersed with German to create the song we know today.  In my most recent arrangement the words are still interspersed with English of course.

In Dolce Jubilo

There is an interesting story about how this Carol came to be…

“Now this same angel came up to the Servant (Suso) brightly, and said that God had sent him down to him, to bring him heavenly joys amid his sufferings; adding that he must cast off all his sorrows from his mind and bear them company, and that he must also dance with them in heavenly fashion. Then they drew the Servant by the hand into the dance, and the youth began a joyous song about the infant Jesus…”

www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Notes_On_Carols/in_dulci_jubilo.htm. Retrieved 24 July 2008. (Click for more information on the carol)

And so we have Good Christian Men Rejoice/In Dolce Jubilo. (Click and sing along.)

Good Christian Men Rejoice, with heart and soul and voice! Give ye heed to what we say: Jesus Christ is born today.  Man and beast before Him bow, and He is in the manger now: Christ is born today, Christ is born today!

Give ye heed…in other words – Look up and listen, this is important.  Christ is born today!  Have we become so used to these words that  we don’t hear them or perhaps even take them for granted?  Every one bowed to worship Him them,  is still paying homage, and Revelation 15:4 tells us all people and nations will continue to do so into eternity.

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice!  Now ye hear of endless bliss; Jesus Christ was bon for this.  He has opened heaven’s door, and man is blest forevermore.  Christ was born for this, Christ was born for this.

Endless bliss?  Christ was born for this?  Without Christ we would have no hope, no eternity, nothing.  Praise God that the temple drape was torn so everyone could enter heaven’s door into the Holy of Holies and spend eternity with the Only One who really matters.

Good christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice!  Now ye need not fear the grave; Jesus Christ was born to save;  Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall.  Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save!

Have you felt the calling?  The something is missing feeling?  It seems to me the calling is strongest at Christmas.  I often feel this sense of longing, of restlessness, of what is missing… I know where it’s coming from, a stirring deep within to connect with my One and Only.  Even though only God knows when I say…Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Heavenly Father, You gave the Son, He gave the Spirit…what more could I need or want.  The Gift is more precious to me than life itself.  There’s a stirring deep within me that can only be You. Thank You!

12 Days of Christmas

During my years as an Elementary Music Specialist I discovered that children really like to sing songs that add content to each verse.  Of course at Christmas they especially liked to sing the 12 Days of Christmas.  (This is my favorite recording of this Carol.  Enjoy by clicking on the link.) Little did the students  realize the meaning of those 12 objects is rooted in Christian History.

Catholicism was outlawed in England from 1558 to 1829.  During this period of time those who wanted to learn of their faith gave meaning to each object in the song by attaching it to a Christian precept.  Whether there is truth to this story or not it does present a unique way to attach a secular song to basic Christianity.

  • Two Turtle Doves – The Old and New Testaments
  • Three French Hens – The three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity
  • Four Calling/Collie Birds – Four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
  • Five Golden Rings – First five books of the Old Testament
  • Six Geese-a-Laying – Six days of creation before God’s rest on the seventh day
  • Seven Swans-a-Swimming – Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Eight Maids-a-Milking – Eight Beatitudes
  • Nine Ladies Dancing – Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • Ten Lords-a-Leaping – Ten Commandments
  • Eleven Pipers Piping – Eleven faithful disciples
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming –Twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed     (source BBC.com)

I am including the words to the Apostles’ Creed because they so resonate in my heart, having been raised in the Lutheran Church and Tradition.  (When I married Ray, a member of the Church of Christ,  my grandmother nearly disowned me.  That all disappeared when she got to know him, his belief in Jesus Christ, and his desire to create a Christian marriage and home.  By the way we are now members of ‘the holy Christian Church’ fellowshipping in the Body of Christ as Southern Baptist’s ) 

As you read through these words make them a prayer of thanksgiving for who He is and what He has done.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,thumbnailCAW5ZPKY

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again from the dead.thCAJJS5RQ
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy Christian church,

the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,thumbnailCAG6BOYY
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
This creed was written using selected verses and concepts from the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Holy Bible.

Away In A manger

Away In A Manger is my favorite Christmas Carol.  Although many give the same message this is the one that resonates in my heart.  I have chosen an older melody for this video and love the Celtic Woman version.  Enjoy!

Away in a manger no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;  The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing the Baby awakes, but Little Lord Jesus no crying He makes;  I love Thee Lord Jesus!  Look down from the sky, and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Verses 1 & 2 of this song first appeared in a children’s collection in 1885.  It is often attributed to Martin Luther but that is highly unlikely.  The author is unknown.

The third stanza was added by John Thomas McFarland around the turn of the century.  It is this verse that I love the most.  Think on these words:

Be near me, Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray;  Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.

There is no greater desire in this Believer’s heart than to stay in His ‘tender care’ and when He is finally ready, to live with Him for all eternity.

Heavenly Father, this child is so blessed to know You and give You praise.  Forgive my sins and stay close.  Let me walk through the opportunities of this day with You.  I put all those reading this in Your ‘tender care’.  I lift this prayer before the throne in the precious name of Jesus.  Make it so!