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Notes on the Notes – January 3, 2021

Epiphany

This week’s music:

“A Light is Gleaming”  (VU #82)

A light is gleaming,
Spreading its arms throughout the night,
Living in the light.
Come share its gladness,
God’s radiant love is burning bright,
Living in the light.

When light comes pouring into the darkest place,
It hurts our eyes to see the glow.
Sometimes a word of hope reminds us of our fears,
Our memories and tears...

When night is round us and every shadow grows,
A star is there to light our way.
It tells a story of Jesus who came near to say:
“God’s light will ever stay.”…

And Jesus showed us a brighter path to walk.
He showed us things we hadn’t seen.
Now we, like Jesus, can help creation shine,
And this will be a sign:

So let us live in the brightness God has giv’n,
And let us rise to see the dawn.
We trust that God is here a-sparkle and ablaze,
Warming all our days.

A light is gleaming,
Spreading its arms throughout the night,
Living in the light.
Come share its gladness,
God’s radiant love is burning bright,
Living in the light.

The words of this beautiful song remind us that Jesus is the light and that, through following his way, we too can be a light in the world.  The song was first published in 1992 in Stickpeople, a collection of songs by the Canadian composer Linnea Good.

“Arise, Your Light is Come” (VU #79)

“Arise, your light is come!
The Spirit’s call obey;
Show forth the glory of your God,
Which shines on you today.

Arise, your light is come!
All you in sorrow born,
Bind up the broken-hearted ones
And comfort those who mourn.

Arise, your light is come!
The mountains burst in song!
Rise up like eagles on the wing;
God’s power will make us strong.

The lyrics for this hymn are inspired by words found in the book of Isaiah and written by Ruth Duck in 1974. The tune, FESTIVAL SONG was first published in 1872 in a hymn book for the Episcopal Church of the USA called Hymnal with Tunes Old and New.

Hear the hymn played on pipe organ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYoUpNC4FAE

Hear an acoustic guitar version of the tune at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W9UgtefhGo

“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.

They looked up and saw a star,
Shining in the east, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
Nowell, Nowell, born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,

And to follow the star wherever it went.
Nowell, Nowell, born is the King of Israel.

This star drew nigh to the northwest;
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest,
And there it did both stop and stay,

Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Nowell, Nowell, born is the King of Israel.

Then entered in those wise men three,
Full reverently upon their knee,
And offered there in his presence their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Nowell, Nowell, born is the King of Israel.

Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,

And with his blood our life hath bought.
Nowell, Nowell, born is the King of Israel.

Since medieval times, telling the story of the birth of Christ in song has been an important tradition, especially in the Western Church. “Nowell,” the English transliteration of the word “noel”, comes from the old French “nouel,” which is now written in modern French as “noël.” The derivation of this word probably comes from the earlier Latin term “natalis,” relating to a birth. Some suggest that “noel” is also related to “novellare” or “nouvelle” meaning “new” – something to tell.   In modern times, the words “nowel” and “noel” are used interchangeably to mean “Christmas.”

“The First Nowell” probably extends back to the 17th century in its oral form, but it was published first in Some Ancient Christmas Carols in 1823.  It appeared originally in nine stanzas, five of which are common in most hymnals. Though the angels’ appearance to the shepherds (Luke 2:1-20) is the subject of the first stanza, most of the carol focuses on the journey of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), giving an overall feeling of Epiphany.

The tune, a traditional West Country melody, may be a fragment of an older English carol melody.  Sir John Stainer (1840-1901) standardized the melody as we know it and provided a harmonization that has become the customary one today.

The final stanza in Voices United draws all humanity into the story and extends the salvation narrative to Christ’s suffering.  This closing verse places the birth of Jesus into the fuller context of redemption.

See Lady A at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVtNXp56kiQ

See Pentatonix at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u5UvnKlCTA

Hear Natalie Cole at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf6fTRTQrG4

“When We Seek Him”

“When we seek Him we will find Him.
As shepherds followed the star.
When we seek Him we will find Him.
As kings who came so far.

So seek Him while He may be found.
Call on Him while He is near.

When we seek Him we will find Him;
Come, wherever you are.
When we seek Him we will find Him;
His love is never far.

So seek Him while He may be found.
Call on Him while He is near.

Come to the manger.
Come to the manger.
Hope is born anew.
Come to the manger.
Come to the manger.
Jesus waits for you.

When we seek Him
We will find Him. “

This week’s anthem encourages all of us to seek the infant King. The words and music were written by Kristie Braselton, Kevin Stokes and Randy Cox. The song was arranged by Dave Williamson (2009).

“Down to Earth as a Dove” (VU #42)

Christ the Lord comes to feed hungry souls in their need;
In the house there is bread: Jesus in a stable, in the church a table.

Let us sing, sing, sing,
Dance and spring, spring, spring,
Christ is here, ever near!
Gloria in excelsis.

This is love come to light, now is fear put to flight.
God defeats darkest night, giving for our sorrows hope of new tomorrows.

Let us sing, sing, sing,
Dance and spring, spring, spring,
Christ is here, ever near!
Gloria in excelsis.”

The tune THEODORIC (PERSONENT HODIE) is a 14th century Latin carol.  It was published in Piae Cantiones (1582) with the Latin text “Personent hodie.”   Fred Kaan wrote the words in 1968 and this carol was first seen in the Hymn Book published by the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada in 1971. This week, the second and third verses will be sung during communion.

“I Am the Light of the World” (VU #87)

I am the light of the world! You people come and follow me!”
If you follow and love you’ll learn the mystery
Of what you were meant to do and be.

When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the shepherds have found their way home,
The work of Christmas is begun...

To find the lost and lonely one,
To heal the broken soul with love,

To feed the hungry children with warmth and good food,
To feel the earth below, the sky above!

To free the prisoner from all chains, to make the powerful care,
To rebuild the nations with strength of good will,
To see God’s children everywhere!

To bring hope to every task you do, to dance at a baby’s new birth,
To make music in an old person’s heart,
And sing to the colours of the earth!”

I am the light of the world! You people come and follow me!”
If you follow and love you’ll learn the mystery
Of what you were meant to do and be.

Jim Strathdee wrote this popular hymn in 1967. The text of this song is based on a Christmas poem by Howard Thurman, a prolific 20th-century writer, theologian, and teacher.  The words remind us of the statement in John 8:12 that Jesus is the Light of the world.  Our response is to follow and live lives of love and action in the world.

See Jim and Jean Strathdee sing the song at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgCYgHZfN-E

“O Radiant Christ, Incarnate Word” (VU #84 v.4)

O Light of Nations, fill the earth;
Our faith and hope and love renew.
Come, lead the peoples to your peace,
As stars once led the way to you.

We will be using the fourth verse of the hymn “O Radiant Christ, Incarnate Word” as our benediction response this week. The words were written by Ruth Duck (1991).

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