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Notes on the Notes – January 6, 2013

This Sunday is Epiphany.  The hymns we will be using are:

“Arise, Your Light is Come” (VU #79) – This hymn quotes directed from today’s passage from the book of  Isaiah, chapter 60.     This hymn was first published by the Ecumenical Women’s Center of Chicago in the 1974 collection of hymn adaptations, Because We Are One People.  Ruth Duck, the author of the lyrics, later included it in her own colleciton, Dancing in the Universe. 

“The First Nowell” (VU #91) – This traditional Epiphany text likely dates from the 17th century or earlier.  It tells the story of the Christmas star, adding in the unbiblical linking of the shepherds with the star.  It was published in 1823 in a book of old English carols and revised a decade later for Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern.  The tune, a traditional West Country melody, may be a fragment of an older English carol melody, or perhaps, a descant to a tune now lost.  The English word Nowell is from the French word Noel, which means Christmas and which is derived from the Latin word natalis which means birth.

“A Light is Gleaming” –  (VU #82) – This song was first published in 1992 in Stickpeople, a collection of songs by the Canadian composer Linnea Good.

“When Heaven’s Bright With Mystery”  (VU #93) – 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 fold songs adapted and arranged by Ralph Vaughan Willaims for the English hymnal (1906).  To see the original carol go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cmfCq8iKgY

“I Am the Light of the World” (VU #87) – Jim Strathdee is an American composer and performer of religious music.  A number of his songs, such as this one, were made known to Canadian congregations through Songs for a Gospel People.  This text is based on a Christmas poem by Howard Thurman, a prolific 20th-century writer, theologian, and teacher.  The song, written in 1967,  grew out of Strathdee’s music ministry at an intercultural, bilingual congregation in Los Angeles.

Categories: Notes on the Notes