Notes on the Notes – December 1, 2019

Advent 1



   Romans 13:11-14     Matthew 24:36-44

This week’s music:

“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” (VU # 75)


“While shepherds watched their flocks by night all seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down, and glory shone around.

‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and humankind.’

‘To you in David’s town this day is born of David’s line
A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord; and this shall be the sign:

The heavenly babe you there shall find to human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swaddling bands, and in a manger laid.’

Thus spake the seraph; and forthwith appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus addressed their joyful song:

‘All glory be to God on high, and to the earth be peace;
Good will to all from highest heaven begin, and never cease.”  

This carol was attributed to Nahum Tate (1652-1715).  It was based on Luke 2:8-14, and tells the story of the angel appearing to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth.  The song first appeared in print in 1702 and,  until 1782, was the only Christmas carol officially sanctioned by the Church of England.  It was set to the tune, WINCHESTER OLD, by William H Monk.

Hear the King’s College Choir at:

“Watcher,  Tell Us of the Night”

“Watcher, tell us of the night,
What its signs of promise are.

Trav’ler, o’er yon mountain’s height,
See that glory-beaming star.

Watcher, does its beauteous ray
Any joy or hope foretell?

Trav’ler, yes; it brings the day,
Promised day of Israel.

Hark, how all the heaven rings
Glory to the King of Kings
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies
Heav’n and earth unite to say,
“Christ the Lord is born today!”

Our candle-lighting music is based on Isaiah 21:11.  John Bowring wrote the hymn in 1885.   The darkness of night presents many dangers, so a watchman would need to be especially alert during the hours of darkness.

In this hymn, the verse is composed of two short speeches by a traveller. The watcher answers each of these short speeches with a short response.  The traveller asks the watcher for “signs of promise”—and asks whether a beautiful star promises joy and hope. The watcher assures the traveller that it does.

The second verse is our response and the lyrics borrow heavily from the carol “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”

The tune, ST. GEORGE, also know as the tune for the hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” was written by George J. Elvey in 1858.

“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (VU #2)


“Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set they people free:
From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art,

Dear desire of every nation, joy of ever longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver; born a child and yet a king;
Born to reign in us for ever; now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all-sufficient merit raise us to thy glorious throne.”

Charles Wesley published this hymn in 1744. He intended it as a Christmas hymn, but its theme of awaiting the arrival of the long-expected redeemer makes it suitable for Advent as well. Like so many of Wesley’s texts, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” alludes to one or more Scripture passages in virtually every phrase. The double nature of Advent is reflected in this text, in which we remember Christ’s first coming even while praying for his return. Stanzas 1 and 2 recall Advent prophecies in the Old Testament; stanza 3 speaks of Christ’s birth and kingdom, and stanza 4 is a prayer for Christ’s rule in our hearts.

Hear the hymn at:

“See amid the Winter’s Snow” (VU #76)

“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;winter-view-sunrise-peaceful-beautiful-lovely-tree-splendor-lake-clouds-houses-time-water-trees-frozen-river-nature-beauty-sunset-landscape-cold-mountain-desktop-backgrounds
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn;
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies God who built the starry skies,
Who enthroned in height sublime sits amid the cherubim.


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


“See, amid the Winter’s Snow” is an English Christmas carol. It was written by Edward Caswall (1814–1878), with music composed by Sir John Goss (1800–1880), and published in 1871.  Caswall wrote “See, amid the Winter’s Snow” shortly after leaving the Church of England and joining the Catholic Oxford Movement and the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri.  It was selected to be included in “Christmas Carols Old and New” as one of the carols that had “proved their hold upon the popular mind”.

See a choral arrangement of the carol at:

Hear the Cambridge Choir of King’s College at:

“Celtic Advent Carol”

“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 for Him 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.

Be of good cheer and put away fear,
The light now is coming to dry every tear.
Love now with us, God’s perfect Son.
Will you ready for Him when He comes?

Veni, Emmanuel. (Come, Emmanuel)
Captivum solve Israel. (Come now and ransom Israel)
Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming.
Could He be coming today?”

This week’s anthem joyously reminds us to prepare for the arrival of Jesus.  It was written by David Angerman & Michael Barrett (2007).


“Holy Child of God, we adore You now;
Like the wisemen bowed we kneel before You now.
And our gifts we bring as an offering;
Lord, we’ve gathered here to worship You alone.”

Our offering response for the season of Advent was written by Randy Vader and Jay Rouse.  We are encouraged to give not just our gifts, but ourselves, as offerings to God.

“Christmas Lord’s Prayer”

“Our Father in heaven, all praise to your name.
Your kingdom in heaven, on earth be the same.
By mortals and angels, come, Lord reign alone;
Oh, hear us and bless us, from heaven’s high throne.
The bread that we yearn for provide us each day;
As we forgive others, our sins take away;
In times of temptation, to lead us be near;
From evil deliver your children most dear.
For yours is the kingdom, o’er all things you reign,
And yours is the power, all things you maintain.
To you be the glory, resounding again
From all of creation, forever.   Amen.”

Our Christmas Lord’s Prayer uses one of the melodies for “Away in a Manger” (VU #6).   The author of the lyrics is unknown.

Hear the melody on acoustic guitar at:

“People of God, in Expectation Wait”

“People of God, in expectation wait
For Christ to come and fears alleviate.
Hasten to us, O God, we humbly pray,
Ushering in your promised realm’s new day.
A time for hungry people to be fed,
Giving their souls God’s word, their bodies bread.
A day of healing and of building up,
Sharing around the table God’s own cup.
Arise, God’s people! Do not hesitate!
It does no good to only sit and wait.
Help now to bring about God’s will, God’s right.
Greet the new day, the blessed day of light!”

This Advent hymn was written by John R. Haas of Riceton Pastoral Charge in Gray, Saskatchewan, in 1989.   We will be using the tune ELLERS, which was composed by Edward John Hopkins in 1869 and is more commonly known as the tune for the hymn “Saviour, Again to Your Dear Name,” (VU #426).

“May the Spirit of the Christ Child”

“May the Spirit of the Christ Child show us how in love to live
For the joy and peace of Christmas is for us to share and give.
May the story of God’s coming, God with us – Emmanuel,
Fill the world with light of Christmas as in awe we do God’s will.”

Our benediction response for the season of Advent uses the familiar melody of ODE TO JOY.

To ponder:  

What does it mean for you to watch for Jesus this Advent?


Bonus message:

“I’m Reverend Phil Wilson from East Camden Pastoral Charge.

A few weeks ago, I asked the congregations of Riverside and Moscow United Church, how many orange cars they had seen in the last week?

Since I have asked that question, several have told me they’ve been seeing orange cars everywhere, while driving and in parking lots.

It’s amazing how many you will see, when you start to look for orange cars.

Seeing the kingdom of God is the same thing. Start to look for small glimpses of God, as you are busy preparing for Christmas, and you begin to see signs of the kingdom all around you.

This Advent season don’t be passive onlookers, watching the world go by. But be watchful, as the Wisemen, looking for the many blessings of God’s Kingdom, as we await the coming of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.”

(used with permission)

Categories: Notes on the Notes
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