O Come, O Come Emmanuel

A song for Advent.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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,
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Words: Latin Hymn; tr. John Mason Neale, Henry Sloane Coffin

And here’s a playlist for Advent. On it you will find songs of waiting, hoping, calling out to God for help and songs that speak of Jesus, the coming light.

MercyMe, It’s Christmas! Album Review

I have a lot of Christmas recordings. I haven’t counted my CDs lately but I used to have to eliminate a few to fit them all in my 60-disc changer and that was before I could download albums into iTunes. (remember when we played actual CDs? Now it’s all on my iPod.) MercyMe has a new Christmas album out and I was so excited I pre-ordered it before I even heard it. I really enjoy MercyMe’s music all year round and I like their other Christmas album. So now that I’ve listened to it, how is it holding up and where will it fit in my Christmas collection?

Song by Song:
1. Newborn: lovely medley with bits of Away In A Manger, Hark the Herald, and original material. Starts with sweeping chords and moves into a repetitive groove.

2. Christmastime Again: An old-feeling rock song about how quickly Christmas comes around. Definitely not my favorite, partly because the feel and theme are so jarring immediately following the first track.

3. Sleigh Ride: I liked the 6/8 groove it started in but the chorus just never clicked in for me, and then when it switched time signatures at the end of the chorus it lost me.

4. I’ll Be Home For Christmas: Loved it but could do without the spoken voice faux radio announcer at the beginning of the track (it’s not bad, just a personal preference).

5. Hold On Christmas: Another rock track similar in theme to I’ll Be Home For Christmas but completely different in feel from that song.

6. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas: fun rendition.

7. Go Tell It On the Mountain: okay version of the song.

8. Do You Hear What I Hear: maybe my favorite non-original track on the album.

9. Our Lullaby: Loved it.

10. Joy: completely different, laid-back version of Joy to the World with original interludes. Really nice.

11. O Come: O Come O Come Emmanuel set to an old American folk melody with (I think) an original melody for the chorus. Pretty. The harmonies on the chorus are gorgeous. It might be one we could use in church.

You can listen to the full album here. Let me know what you think!

There are enough good tracks that it was totally worth it to get the album but tracks 2, 3 and 5 won’t make it to my Christmas playlists.

Merry Christmas!

Preparing for Advent

I know some of you refuse to think about Thanksgiving until Halloween is over and then refuse to think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over, but I HAVE to start planning Christmas services now! So, today I listened to Christmas carols and started an Advent playlist on Spotify. You won’t find snowy songs or winter songs on this playlist but you will find songs that speak of Jesus’ birth. I think Christmas songs that speak the gospel are appropriate any day of the year, just as songs about the resurrection shouldn’t be reserved for Easter Sunday.

What’s the earliest you have or will play Christmas music? Leave a comment below and let me know!

I’ll just leave this here. You don’t have to click on it. (but you could)

Christmas Candlelight Service 2014

This is the service order from our Candlelight Service. If you can’t make it to church to go to on Christmas Eve, or if your family plans on staying home, you could use all or part of the readings and songs to have your own Candlelight service at home. Light a candle, read through the scriptures, and listen to as many of the Christmas carols as you like. I’ve tried to choose videos that have lyrics and are musically suitable for a quiet evening (or day) at home. All the scriptures are from the New KJV.

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Luke 1:26-38

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.  Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.  For with God nothing will be impossible.”

 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Matthew 1:18-24
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.  But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,  and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

The First Noel

Luke 1:39-56
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah,  and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.  And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.  So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them

What Child is This


Matthew 2:1-11
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Silent Night (Candlelight Carol)

O Holy Night

We had our candlelight service at church on Sunday evening, December 21st. So many people from our church have family events or have to work on Christmas Eve and we get much better attendance on the Sunday evening before Christmas. It was a beautiful evening with meaningful reading, and exuberant congregational singing.

Did you find the stillness? Did you listen in the quiet space?

God bless and Merry Christmas!

See Amid the Winter’s Snow

This carol (also known as Hymn for Christmas Day) is quite old but I had never heard it until a couple of years ago. The recording above doesn’t have all the verses so here they are:

See amid the winter’s snow, born for us on earth below;
See the tender Lamb appears, promised from eternal years.

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 amid the cherubim. CHORUS

Say, ye holy shepherds, say what your joyful news today?
Wherefore have ye left your sheep on the lonely mountain steep? CHORUS

“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.” CHORUS

Sacred infant, all divine, what a tender love was thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss down to such a world as this. CHORUS

Teach, O teach us, holy Child, by thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee, in Thy sweet humility. CHORUS

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This particular video is mostly narration, but I love it for the history and drama of this great song. To me, this is the “It Is Well” of Christmas hymns. Written by a man who faced tragedy in his personal life yet who found his peace in Jesus Christ.

Micah 5:5 And He will be their peace.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th-unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Words: Henry W. Longfellow
Music: John Calkin

Christmas Song — Joy Has Dawned

Joy has dawned upon the world, Promised from creation:
God’s salvation now unfurled, hope for every nation.
Not with fanfares from above, not with scenes of glory,
But a humble gift of love: Jesus born of Mary.

Sounds of wonder fill the sky with the songs of angels,
As the mighty Prince of Life shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place, shaped the earth in darkness,
Cling now to a mother’s breast, vulnerable and helpless.

Shepherds bow before the Lamb, gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands, prophesy the story.
Gold, a King is born today, Incense, God is with us,
Myrrh, His death will make a way, by His blood He’ll win us.

Son of Adam, Son of heaven, Given as a ransom,
Reconciling God and man, Christ our mighty Champion!
What a Savior, what a Friend, What a glorious mystery:
Once a babe in Bethlehem, Now the Lord of history.

 Words and Music: Keith Getty & Stuart Townend; copyright 2004 Thankyou Music

From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable

From the squalor of a borrowed stable,
by the Spirit and a virgin’s faith;
to the anguish and the shame of scandal
came the Saviour of the human race!
But the skies were filled with the praise of heav’n,
shepherds listen as the angels tell
of the Gift of God come down to man
at the dawning of Immanuel.

King of heaven now the Friend of sinners,
Humble servant in the Father’s hands,
Filled with power and the Holy Spirit,
Filled with mercy for the broken man.
Yes, He walked my road and He felt my pain,
Joys and sorrows that I know so well;
Yet His righteous steps give me hope again –
I will follow my Immanuel!

Through the kisses of a friend’s betrayal,
He was lifted on a cruel cross;
He was punished for a world’s transgressions,
He was suffering to save the lost.
He fights for breath, He fights for me,
Loosing sinners from the claims of hell;
And with a shout our souls are free –
Death defeated by Immanuel!

Now He’s standing in the place of honour,
Crowned with glory on the highest throne,
Interceding for His own beloved
Till His Father calls to bring them home!
Then the skies will part as the trumpet sounds
Hope of heaven or the fear of hell;
But the Bride will run to her Lover’s arms,
Giving glory to Immanuel!

copyright 1999 Thankyou Music; Words and music by Stuart Townend