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Notes on the Notes – December 8, 2019

Advent 2

To Turn Towards God

White Gift Sunday

    Isaiah 11:1-10    Matthew 3:1-12

 This week’s music:

“All Poor Ones and Humble” (VU #68)

All poor ones and humble and all those who stumble,
Come hastening, and feel not afraid;
For Jesus, our treasure, with love past all measure,
In lowly poor manger was laid.
Though wise men who found him laid rich gifts around him,
Yet oxen they gave him their hay,
And Jesus in beauty accepted their duty;
Contented in manger he lay.

The Christ Child will lead us, the Good Shepherd feed us
And with us abide till his day.
Then hatred he’ll banish; then sorrow will vanish,
And death and despair flee away.
And he shall reign ever, and nothing shall sever
From us the great love of our King;
His peace and his pity shall bless his fair city;
His praises we ever shall sing.

Then haste we to show him the praises we owe him;
Our service he ne’er can despise;
Whose love still is able to show us that stable,
Where softly in manger he lies…”

Katherine Emily Roberts made this free translation of a traditional Welsh carol for The Oxford Book of Carols (1928).  William Thomas Pennar Davies provided the second stanza for Congregational Praise (1951).    The melody O DEUED POB CRISTON was collected by Ruth Lewis in 1910.

‘Traditional Welsh Christmas carols, or plygain carols as they are normally termed, are a world apart from the ‘Silent Night’ variety. Rather than concentrating on the Christmas story itself, they are long sermons in song, centering on Christ’s atonement on the cross, exhorting to repentance, faith, and godly living, and often encompassing the whole of the redemption story from Adam’s Fall in the Garden of Eden to the joys of heaven.  They flourished, especially in north-east Wales, from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, and the tradition of holding plygain carol services has survived unbroken in the Montgomeryshire/Shropshire border area to the present day.

In some form or another, ‘O deued pob Cristion’ has found its way into numerous hymn books and carol collections since it was collected by Ruth Herbert Lewis in 1910, and has become one of the most frequently sung and best loved of all Welsh carols.

See the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church Cathedral Choir sing this carol at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jg2CRfO9xI

“Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old” (VU #680)

“Isaiah the prophet has written of old how God’s new creation shall come,
Instead of the thorn tree, the fir tree shall grow;
The wolf shall lie down with the lamb. 

The mountains and hills shall break forth into song,
The peoples be led forth in peace,
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God
As the waters cover the seas. 

Yet nations still prey on the meek of the world,
And conflict turns parent from child.
Your people despoil all the sweetness of earth;
The brier and the thorn tree grow wild. 

God, bring to fruition your will for the earth,
That no one shall hurt or destroy,
That wisdom and justice shall reign in the land
And your people shall go forth in joy.”

Joy Paterson, from Wausau, Wisconsin wrote the above text in 1982, based on Isaiah 11:6-9 and 55:12-13.  It was one of seven winning hymns published in New Hymns for Children (1982).  The tune, SAMANTHRA, is an American folk tune from Southern Harmony (1835).

“There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying” (VU #18)

“There’s a voice in the wilderness crying, a call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway, a highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted, the lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places where God, our God, may go!

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people the coming of their King.John the baptist
Like the flowers of the field they perish,
Like grass our works decay;

The power and pomp of nations
Shall pass, like a dream, away.

But the world of our God endureth,
Whose arm is ever strong;

God stands in the midst of nations, and soon will right the wrong.
God shall feed the flock like a shepherd, the lambs so gently hold;
To pastures of peace will lead them, and bring them safe to fold.”

This hymns reminds us of John the Baptist, who heralded the coming of the new Messiah.   Often, on our journey,  we need someone to point us in the right direction.   This hymn commemorates the union in 1925 of the Canadian Congregational and Methodist churches with a large portion of the Canadian Presbyterian churches to form the United Church of Canada.  The author, James Lewis Milligan, a journalist and lay Methodist preacher, was the director of public relations for the uniting churches between 1922 and 1925.  Henry Hugh Bancroft, organist and choirmaster of All Saints’ Cathedral (Anglican) in Edmonton, composed the music.

Hear the hymn at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWkbuGFDbbk

“Turn Your Heart to Christmas”

“Turn your heart to Christmas.
Come in from the night.
Gentle hope embrace you.
Find the promised Light.
Give yourself to worship.
Reach for things above.
Turn your heart to Christmas.
Know that you are loved.manger

Turn your heart to Christmas.
Follow heaven’s star.
Kneel before the manger.
Touch the face of God.
In the stillness of the night, as the angels sing,
Make your heart a manger for the newborn King.

Turn your heart to Christmas.
Seek the holy Lamb.
Hear the angels singing,
‘Go to Bethlehem.’
Time of joy and wonder.
Time of hope and praise.
Turn your heart to Christmas.
Hold the gift of grace.
Hold the gift of grace.”

The words for this week’s anthem were written by Joseph M. Martin. They are set to the tune CHANHAM, written by Gustav Holst, and known as the tune for the carol, “In the Bleak Mid-Winter.” The accompaniment also references the song, “Sheep May Safely Grace” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Hear an instrumental version of “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36H7eUC-h0M

“O, Little Town of Bethlehem” (VU #64) 

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary; and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to all on earth.

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessed gift of heaven.

No ear may hear his coming; but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in; be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.”

The text for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” was written by Phillips Brooks (1835–1893), an Episcopal priest, Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Philadelphia. He was inspired by visiting the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in 1865. Three years later, he wrote the poem for his church and his organist, Lewis Redner, added the music. Redner’s tune, simply titled ST. LOUIS, is the tune used most often for this carol in the United States and Canada, but it may also be sung to the tune FOREST GREEN instead.

See Sarah McLachlan sing this carol at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyPMDD8fGeA

Sing along at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpHY3jU27dc


 To ponder: 

How do you navigate between the cultural Christmas and the Christian Advent/Christmas in this season?

Bonus video: 

Categories: Notes on the Notes