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Notes on the Notes – December 21, 2014

Spiritual Adventure – Advent 4/Baptism


This week’s readings:

Luke 1:50-55, Luke 1: 26-38

This week’s music:

“Away in a Manger” (VU #69)

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky look 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 you, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care
And fit us for heaven to live with you there.

This traditional children’s carol is an anonymous text which seems to have come from the German Lutheran community in Pennsylvania.  The tune CRADLE SONG was published in an American collection of Christmas songs entitled Around the World with Christmas (1895).

Hear the song on harp at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rYc-XTYib4o

Hear the song on the piano at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vtW9TLjiPNs


“Ring, Christmas bells
Ring them loud with the message bringing Peace on the earth tidings of good cheer
Come carolers come and join with the angels singing “Joy to the world” Christmastime is here!

Children gather around and listen
You’ll hear the sound Of angels filling the sky
Telling everyone Christmastime is here

Loved ones close to our hearts And strangers in lands a far
Together share in the joy, Emmanuel (Tell the world)

He has come to dwell (The time is here)

With one voice, let the world rejoice…”

This modern Christmas song was written by popular Christian singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith and Joanna Carlson in 1998, and arranged by Lloyd Larson in 2009.

See liturgical dance to Michael W. Smith’s recording:

Travel On, Travel On”  (VU #647)
“In the kingdom of heaven is our end and our beginning,map
The road that we must travel every day.
Travel on, travel on, to the kingdom that is coming,
The kingdom will be with us all the way.”

The fourth Sunday of Advent brings us to the fourth verse of Sydney Carter’s hymn, “Travel On, Travel On.”

“Mary, Woman of the Promise” (VU #16)
“Mary, woman of the promise, bearer of your people’s dreams,
Through your open, willing spirit waters of God’s goodness streamed.

Mary, song of holy wisdom, sung before the world began,
Faithful to the Word within, you carried out God’s wondrous plan.

Mary, morning star of justice, mirror of the Radiant Light,

In the shadows of life’s journey, be a beacon for our sight.

Mary, model of compassion, wounded by your offspring’s pain,
When our hearts are torn by sorrow, teach us how to love again.

Mary, woman of the Gospel, precious home for treasured seed,
Help us to be true disciples, bearing fruit in word and deed. “

This poem will help us meditate on the words of Elizabeth to Mary: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!..And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. (Luke 1, 42.45)

This text was written by Sister Mary Frances Fleischaker. It won first place in a hymn competition seeking new Marian texts that was sponsored by the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 1988.  The melody, GRATIA PLENA, composed by Alfred V. Fedak, was selected for the text in the second part of the competition.
“Born in Bethlehem”
“Glory to God in the highest!
Glory to God in the highest!
Glory to God in the highest!
Born in Bethlehem.

See the little baby lying in a manger…
Born in Bethlehem.

Shepherds and wise men bow down before him…
Born in Bethlehem.

Angels singing “Glory in the highest!”…

Born in Bethlehem.”

This week’s anthem is a calypso-style telling of the Christmas story. It was written by Jay Edwards in 1994.

“Angels From the Realms of Glory” (VU #36)

“Angels, from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds in the field abiding, watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing, yonder shines the infant Light:
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn King.You, angels from the realm of glory, you tell us about the etenal ...

Sages, leave your contemplations; brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great desire of nations; ye have seen his natal star:
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn King.

Saints before the altar bending, watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending, in his temple shall appear:
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ, the newborn King.”

‘Angels From the Realms of Glory’ began as a poem rather than a song. Lyricist James Montgomery said he felt inspired to write the words to it quickly on December 24, 1816 after reading the Bible’s account of the first Christmas. The words flowed easily as Montgomery reflected on the angels’ announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth. That evening (Christmas Eve), he published the words as a poem in the newspaper he owned in London, England, The Sheffield Iris.

Much later, in 1867, composer and organist Henry Smart set Montgomery’s words to music that he had previously written for a song he called ‘REGENT SQUARE’ (named after Regent Square Presbyterian Church in London, England) and named the new song ‘Angels From the Realms of Glory’.

See the song played on Pipe Organ at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTrJONTyGJc

Hear a jazz version of the hymn at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GdOGHLtaork

“Love is a Candle”

“Love is a candle on our journey.
Love is the holding and the flight.
All round this aching earth of winter,
This tender flame of Love we’ll light.

For we are a people of a Story,
Of stars that sing and Love that cries.
And though these nights are getting longer,
The path is lit before our eyes.”

This week brings us to the fourth verse of Linnea Good’s “Hope is a Candle.”

“We light the fourth candle of love and touch the essence of the gospel and the heart of God.

Throughout the Bible we read of God’s love for His creation and how that love led Him to constantly take the initiative; always coming to His people; always seeking them out; always forgiving them; always showing that His love would not give up hope. That thread runs right through the Old Testament with passages like Hosea: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son…  How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?” That thread runs straight to the stable in Bethlehem, from there to the cross and on to the empty tomb. The Bible from beginning to end is a love story…a story of God’s love for us. What we don’t find in Scripture is an explanation for this love. We read simply that God loves us….because he loves us.

We are called to accept that love and live out the commandment to love one another. Only then will the hope, joy and peace of Christmas become not just a longed for ideal but a reality in our troubled world.

(Source: An exclusive series of Advent reflections by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Lorna Hood – 2013)


advent 4


Categories: Notes on the Notes, Sunday Bulletin and Announcements, Worship