Category Archives: Advent

He Stoops to Earth

1 Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light,
and usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with affright,
but hear the angel’s warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
our confidence and joy shall be;
the pow’r of Satan breaking,
our peace eternal making.
2 Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light,
to herald our salvation;
He stoops to earth–the God of might,
our hope and expectation.
He comes in human flesh to dwell,
our God with us, Immanuel;
the night of darkness ending,
our fallen race befriending.

I am enjoying working on this with my viola.

Christians Awake!

From Faith McDonnell at Juicy Ecumenism:

For many years it was the tradition for Salvation Army band members to get up at the crack of dawn on Christmas Day and wake the town with the Christmas song “Christians Awake, Salute the Happy Morn.”

Here is Salvation Army officer Major Alan Young playing it on his cornet for the village of Pill in North Somerset, England…

Christians, awake, salute the happy morn,
whereon the Savior of the world was born;
rise to adore the mystery of love,
which hosts of angels chanted from above;
with them the joyful tidings were begun
of God incarnate and the Virgin’s son. . . .

Oh, may we keep and ponder in our mind
God’s wondrous love in saving lost mankind!
Trace we the babe, who hath retrieved our loss,
from his poor manger to his bitter cross.
Tread in his steps, assisted by his grace,
Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place.

Then may we hope, th’angelic throngs among,
to sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song;
he that was born upon this joyful day
around us all his glory shall display;
saved by his love, incessant we shall sing
eternal praise to heav’n’s almighty King.”

Wake, Awake, For Night is Flying

 

I much prefer this hymn version to the choral arrangement that dominates the youtube offerings.

1. “Wake, awake, for night is flying,”
The watchmen on the heights are crying;
“Awake, Jerusalem, arise!”
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices:
“Oh, where are ye, ye virgins wise?
The Bridegroom comes, awake!
Your lamps with gladness take!
Hallelujah!
With bridal care Yourselves prepare
To meet the Bridegroom, who is near.”

2. Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing,
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all-glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious,
Her Star is ris’n, her Light is come.
“Now come, Thou Blessed One,
Lord Jesus, God’s own Son,
Hail! Hosanna!
The joyful call We answer all
And follow to the nuptial hall.”

3. Now let all the heav’ns adore Thee,
Let men and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone.
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where, dwelling with the choir immortal,
We gather round Thy radiant throne.
No vision ever brought,
No ear hath ever caught,
Such great glory;
Therefore will we Eternally
Sing hymns of praise and joy to Thee.

An Advent Rainbow

Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 9.38.23 AM.png

My childhood church did not use a liturgical Church calendar and so although we celebrated Christmas and Easter, there was little attention given to seasons such as Advent and Lent.  Now that I think about it, there was always anticipation building to those two times of the year, much like there is in the church I now attend that does observe a liturgical calendar.  There is a difference though.  When a church is formally observing the seasons of Advent and Lent everything is directed to understanding and anticipating what is to come.  Dedicating several weeks focused on preparing for the main event reminds us these are not usual events, they are of utmost importance, and we need to be prepared.
This morning I was, for the second time, surprised by a rainbow near a favorite vista.  Thanks to my childhood church instruction, I immediately remembered God telling Noah he put a rainbow in the sky as a sign of His promise to never again destroy the earth by flood.  Today, even more than that specific promise, the rainbow said to me “God keeps His promises, all kinds of promises, and that includes what we anticipate during advent.”
Rainbows also bring Cowper’s words to mind:

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises
With healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
to cheer it after rain.

Sleepers Awake!

 

Sleepers, wake! for night swift is flying,
The watchmen on thy walls aloud are crying,
Awake, thou city of Jerusalem!
Hear ye now, ere comes the morning,
The midnight call of solemn warning.
Where are ye, O ye wise virgins, where?
Behold, the Bridegroom comes!
Arise and take your lamps.
Alleluia.
Yourselves prepare, your Lord draws near.
He bids you to His marriage feast.
My choir sang a simpler version of this during Communion today, but this is wonderful.

Veni, Emmanuel

My choir’s first Advent Carol, this coming week:

Be not afraid, I bring you good news.
The Savior is coming in glory to you.
He shall be called “God’s Holy One.”
Will you be ready? Will you be ready?
Will you be ready for Him when He comes?
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Open your hearts, prepare ye the way.
Sleepers awake, soon is the dawning.
He will turn night into glorious day,
He will turn night into day.
Be of good cheer and put away fear,
The light now is coming to dry ev´ry tear.
Love now with us, God´s perfect Son.
Will you be ready? Will you be ready?
Will you be ready for Him when He comes, When He comes?
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Open your hearts, prepare ye the way.
Sleepers awake, for soon is the dawning.
He will turn night into glorious day.
He will turn night into day.
He will turn night into day.
Veni, Emmanuel.
Captivum solve Israel.
Veni, Emmanuel.
Jesus is coming.Jesus is coming.
Could He be coming today?
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Open your hearts, prepare ye the way.
Sleepers awake, for soon is the dawning.
He will turn night into glorious day.
He will turn night into day.
He will turn night into day.
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.
Light the candle, Jesus is coming.

Glad Tidings

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.
Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within,
prepare we in our hearts a home
where such a mighty Guest may come.
For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.
To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth and let thy light restore
earth’s own true loveliness once more.
All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whose advent doth thy people free;
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.

Sentimentality at Christmas

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-00-25-am

I love Christmas traditions too, those I know first hand, and others that I have only heard, or read about.  Especially I enjoy knowing the history and significance of them.  However, I think this is worth thinking about:

Falling into Sentimentality

I love the Christmas tree with the family gathering together to decorate it, but I wish that we were like the French (and many other) who do their gift-giving on Epiphany, with the coming of the Wise Men, and keep christmas Day itself as a holy day.  We forget the holiness and fall into sentimentality over the tiny baby in the stable.  Who is that tiny baby?  Even the Creator, almighty and terrible and incomprehensible!

And this, also from Madeleine L’Engle’s little book, Miracle on 10th Street:

This Tiny Baby

Whoever is the baby?
Nothing but a little lamb
Who says God is and that I am.
Who is this tiny baby?
Just an infant, meek and mild,
just a feeble, mortal child.
Who is this tiny baby?
The Lord strong and mighty
even the Lord mighty in battle.
The king of glory’s coming
who is this
even the Lord of Hosts
This is the tiny baby!