Notes on the Notes – January 3, 2016

This week’s theme:


– A Time of New Beginning – The Jesus Era

This week’s Scripture readings:

Ecclesiastes 3 – to everything there is a season

Revelation 21: 1-6a – a new heaven and a new earth

This week’s music:

“The First Nowell” (VU #91) 

“The first Nowell the angel did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;  in fields where they lay a-keeping their sheep on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.  Nowell, Nowell, born is the King of Israel…”

This traditional text likely dates from the 17th century or earlier.  It was published in 1823 in a book of old English carols.  The tune, a traditional West Country melody, may be a fragment of an older English carol melody.  To learn more about the history of the carol, go to:

Hear Lady Antebellum at:

Hear Nat King Cole at:

Hear Natalie Cole at:

“Will You Come and See the Light?” (VU #96)

This invitation in song is packed with striking metaphors and thought progressions.  Brian Wren has called upon his experience working for Third World aid and development projects to write this hymn.  He chose the Scottish fold tune KELVINGROVE as the setting for his text.  It was arranged by Valerie Ruddle, a British music teacher, composer and author.

Will you come and see the light from the stable door?
It is shining newly bright, though it shone before.
It will be your guiding star, it will show you who you are;
Will you hide, or decide to meet the light?

“Will you step into the light that can free the slave?
It will stand for what is right, it will heal and save.
By the pyramids of greed there’s a longing to be freed;DarkRedRoomBrightDoor-Boskizzi-450x299
Will you hide, or decide to meet the light?

Will you tell about the light in the prison cell;
Though it’s shackled out of sight, it is shining well.
When the truth is cut and bruised, and the innocent abused;
Will you hide, or decide to meet the light?

Will you join the hope, alight in the young girl’s eyes;
Of the mighty put to flight by a baby’s cries?
When the lowest and the least are the foremost at the feast,
Will you hide, or decide to meet the light?

Will you travel by the light of the babe new born?
In the candle lit at night there’s a gleam of dawn,
And the darkness all about is too dim to put it out;
Will you hide, or decide to meet the light?”

Listen to a piano arrangement of the hymn at:

“When heaven’s bright with mystery” (VU #93 v 4)

“When heaven’s bright with mystery and stars still lead an unknown way, when love still lights a gentle path where courts of power can hold no sway, there with the Magi, let us kneel, our gifts to share, God’s world to heal.”

We will be using the fourth verse of this hymn as our offering response.   The words for this hymn were written by Rob Johns, a United Church minister in Winnipeg, as a submission for Voices United.  The words are set to THE SUSSEX CAROL, which is a folk tune that was collected in Sussex in 1904 and which is often referred to by it’s first line “On Christmas night all Christians sing.”  It is one of over thirty-five folk songs adapted and arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the English hymnal (1906).  To see the original carol go to:

“In the Darkness Shines the Splendour” (VU #92)

In the darkness shines the splendor of the World who took our flesh, welcoming, in love’s surrender, death’s dark shadow at his crèche.  Bearing every human story, World made flesh reveals his glory.

Light of nations, veiled in history, born of woman’s flesh and blood, calling to the depths of mystery restless hearts that seek the good.  Healing every human story, Word made flesh reveals his glory.

Broken bread, sustaining us in sorrow, wine poured out to toast our joy; exodus and new tomorrow, life’s full promise to enjoy!  Gladdening every human story, Word made flesh reveals his glory.

All God’s people, sing in jubilation of the birth that sets us free, telling of the revelation:  Jesus, God’s epiphany.  Celebrate the human story!  Word made flesh reveals our glory.”

Bernadette Gasslein’s new hymn is set to the familiar tune IRBY, which is the tune for “Once in Royal David’s City,” composed by Henry John Gauntlett.   The hymn was published in 1994 in the Canadian Catholic book of Worship III.  

Hear the melody on pipe organ at:



Categories: Notes on the Notes, Worship
%d bloggers like this: