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.

I Wonder As I Wander

I Wonder As I Wander is one of the most beautiful of all Christmas Hymns.  It was originally published in Songs of the Hill Folk in 1934.  It tells of the longing to understand why Jesus came to earth for each one of us.  The haunting melody speaks of that lonely longing so many Believers experience at this time of year.

John Jacob Niles, who created the melody and penned most of the words based the song on a fragment of a song he had heard while attending an evangelistic meeting in the mountains.  In his own words…

A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins…. But, best of all, she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song.                                  Pen, Ron. “I Wonder as I Wander”. A Kentucky Christmas (George Ella Lyon, editor). University Press of Kentucky (2003), p200–201. ISBN 0-8131-2279-1.

I can see the shadows and shapes of the dark Appalachian Mountains as I listen to this beautiful piece of music.  I can almost hear the Heavenly Hosts singing…Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!   –Luke 2:14

http://youtu.be/jQqp6hpBpd8

Heavenly Father, during this waiting time, the Advent of Jesus return, keep me mindful that the loneliness I sometimes feel is Your Spirit within waiting to be rejoined with You.  As I anticipate with great joy Your return not as a Baby but as my Redeemer grant me the peace that comes from knowing that You are my One and Only.  Glory be to God in the Highest!

Hallelujah

Handel's Messiah

Handel’s Messiah (Photo credit: HerryLawford)

Although I see decorations everywhere and have nearly completed my shopping the Season doesn’t really start for me until I put on my formal black dress and sing Handel’s Oratorio, The Messiah.  I have been blessed for the past several  years, by being allowed to asked to sing the Contralto Solo – Oh, Though That Tellest Good Tidings (Isaiah 40:9).  We (The Defiance College Community Chorus) sing nearly the entire work with members of the Toledo Symphony.   Every piece of this work is based on a verse or proficy from the life of Christ.  It’s a true worship experience for me.

The Hallelujah Chorus http://youtu.be/pYzOQFpGPYE(Rev. 19:6, 11:15, 19:16) might be the most remembered piece of this work but there is nothing like hearing the trumpet solo in The Trumpet Shall Sound (I Corinthians 15:52-53) I can almost see Jesus appearing to take us to heaven.  I Know That My Redeemer Liveth (Job 6:25-26 and 1 Corinthians 15:20) is, for me, the heartfelt song of the true believer.

      Heavenly Father, You are the Mighty Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, my Redeemer and above all LORD of Lords.  My heart sings with the message and beauty of this incredible work.  How can I say thanks for what You have created.  All praise to You, my God and King!!!!!

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Nativity

Nativity (Photo credit: sbrent)

Over the nexts several weeks I will be using Christmas Carols and Songs to guide us to the day we celebrate His birth. Many years have passed since I learned this first song.  It’s haunting melody and ‘prayer words’ just have a way of sticking with me.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransome captive Israel, that morns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here:  Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high, and order all things, far and nigh;  To us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.

O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind;  Bid envy strife, and quarrels cease;  Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

As I read these words once again, and let the melody take me into my thoughts I wondered are we not still captive Israel?  Black Friday just broke sales records – a kind of captivity to buy stuff.   (I’ll chase a bunny here – – Isn’t it interesting that we live in a country that sets aside a day to spend more money than we really have buying things we think are right for a few people we may not even like.  Hm-m-m-m-m-m…)  Overweight/obesity/type 2 diabetes –captivity to food.   Pornography, adultery, homosexuality – – captivity to immorality.  Credit card debt, high mortgage payments, expensive cars, clothes, jewelry, furniture…..the list goes on and on and on.  We are captive to anything or anyone that are replacements for God. 

The Bible clearly tells us Emanuel means God (is) with us. Matthew 1:23  He knows what we are doing within our captivity to other stuff, we are trying to replace Him with something else.  He alone is ALL we need, have needed, and will need. 

Dear friends let our prayers be this from the 3rd verse of the song:

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high, and order all things, far and nigh;  To us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.  Father, in heaven, open our ears and minds to Your guidance throughout this season.  Make it so Lord!