Sunday, November 17, 2019

Home to Glory

Source: Unknown

38 DAYS TO CHRISTMAS...


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.

James Montgomery, author of “Angels, from the Realms of Glory,” was a gentle man, but he didn’t shirk from criticizing the status quo if he thought there was a better way. In a gentle dig at popular hymn writers, he suggested they often started off with a good idea but wandered on from there until they lost sight of their original intention.

Montgomery, on the other hand, liked to find a powerful theme and stick with it. The idea that God would come to earth through Jesus Christ struck him as an awesome one, well worth rejoicing over. He left the theme for one stanza only, to tell what this miracle meant to humankind. Repentant sinners, he said, had been set free. Mercy had broken their chains.

An orphan boy who eventually became a newspaper owner, Montgomery found himself in chains more than once. His views on poverty, social conditions, and slavery earned him two spells of imprisonment in York Castle. Undaunted, he would go on to champion many causes that bettered the plight of the ordinary man and woman.

His earthly reward, for his reforms, his poetry, and his hymns, would eventually come in the form of a royal pension.

Asked which of his works would survive him, he replied in a way that clearly showed his priorities. “None, sir. Nothing except, perhaps, a few of my hymns.” “Angels, from the Realms of Glory” is still sung all across the English-speaking world, more than a century and a half after his death.

Growing up without a family may have brought Montgomery closer to the realms of charity. Spending his childhood with no place to call home may have brought him closer to the realms of eternity. The day after completing his four hundredth hymn, at age eighty-three, he went to his real home and his heavenly family.

The angels must have rejoiced in the realms of glory when James Montgomery arrived.

Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. PSALM 148:2–3

(From Silent Night: The Stories Behind 40 Beloved Christmas Carols, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission)

1. 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!

2. Shepherds, in the fields abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant Light.
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

3. 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!

4. 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!

DO YOU KNOW?
38 days in a calendar year equals to one month and 8 days, or to be more specific:
- 3,283,200 seconds
- 54,720 minutes
- 912 hours
- 5 weeks and 3 days
- 10.41% of 2019

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Lullaby to the World

Courtesy: shutterstock.com
Still, still, still
One can hear the falling snow.

For all is hushed,

The world is sleeping,

Holy Star its vigil keeping.

Still, still, still,

One can hear the falling snow.

Still, Still, Still” is one of the most relaxing Christmas carols. Lacking the traditional verse and chorus format, it repeats the first word of each verse three times in a gently hypnotic fashion. The melody rises and falls like soft breathing, so it’s no great wonder that “Still, Still, Still” was often used as a lullaby to soothe children to sleep.

As with many traditional songs, its origins are lost in time—and it is even difficult to find a definitive version of the lyrics. It was first sung in Austrian villages prior to 1819, and it spread by word of mouth with mothers and fathers singing it to their children as they remembered it,
adapting it here and there.

By 1819 the lyrics had become attached to “The Salzburg Melody,” and written copies were circulated. Variations in the words still persisted, but the differences really made no difference. The themes of rest, comfort, and reassurance shine through regardless of which version is sung. The song, seemingly sung by a mother to her child, might just as easily have been crooned by a loving God to a fretful humankind.

The snow is falling on Christmas Eve (the carol tells us), and nothing need disturb our sleep. God’s angels are attentive and His love is all encompassing. He is sending His Son to be born for our sake, and when we wake in the morning, everything will be different. Our problems will have a solution. Adam’s fall will be redeemed.

So sleep and don’t worry. God has it all in hand.

A beautiful and comforting promise - one we are reminded of every Christmas.

Overly simplistic, perhaps? Well, of course, it isn’t as easy as all that; we still have our very important part to play. We have to allow ourselves to be loved.

So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. NEHEMIAH 8:11

(From Silent Night: The Stories Behind 40 Beloved Christmas Carols, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission)

Still, still, still,

One can hear the falling snow.

For all is hushed,

The world is sleeping,

Holy Star it's vigil keeping.

Still, still, still,

One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,

'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

The night is peaceful all around you,

Close your eyes,

Let sleep surround you.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,

'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

DO YOU KNOW?
39 days in a calendar year equals to one month and 9 days, or to be more specific:
- 3,369,600 seconds
- 56,160 minutes
- 936 hours
- 5 weeks and 4 days
- 10.68% of 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

God and the Watchmen

Photo Credit: Unknown

God rest ye merry, gentlemen;
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Christ, our Savior,
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy!
O tidings of comfort and joy!

Surprisingly, there are no “merry gentlemen” in this Christmas carol - unless we count the fellows doing the singing! All being well, the gentlemen referred to would have been in nightshirts and nightcaps and sound asleep. The comma between “merry” and “gentlemen” suggests it’s their rest that should be merry, not the gentlemen!

The authors of this song of redemption are unknown, but tradition has it they were watchmen, paid extra by the local burghers to guard the town over the Christmas period. Their job usually would have involved patrolling the nighttime streets with a lamp. They would announce the time on the hour, following that with a reassuring “And all’s well!” At some point though, perhaps overcome by the Christmas spirit, they seem to have started singing!

Reminding their cozy patrons that they were saved through Christ, the watchmen also encouraged those listening to love each other in Christian brotherhood. All hearing their song should entrust their night’s rest to God, and the knowledge of Satan’s inevitable defeat should be enough to
make that rest a merry one.

Surprisingly in such a happy song, Satan is mentioned twice, but the presence of his name does nothing to lessen the overwhelming “tidings of comfort and joy!”

The tune may have been brought to the English West Country by French merchants, but the lyrics were born on the streets of an unknown English town in the fifteenth century. The publication, in 1833, of Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern brought them to a wider audience.

In taking the news of Christ’s birth out into the frosty street with a joyful song, those unknown believers may well have been the world’s first Christmas carolers. If the watchmen could have foreseen how popular caroling would become, they probably would have been very merry gentlemen indeed!

Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. 1 CHRONICLES 16:9

(From Silent Night: The Stories Behind 40 Beloved Christmas Carols, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission)

1. God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ, our Saviour,
Was born on Christmas Day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone a-stray:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

2. In Bethlehem in Jewry
This blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn;
The which His mother, Mary,
Did nothing take in scorn:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

3. From God, our heav’nly Father,
A blessed angel came,
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

4. “Fear not,” then said the angel,
“Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour,
Of virtue, pow’r and might;
So frequently to vanquish all
The friends of Satan quite”:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

5. The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding,
In tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed Babe to find:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

6. But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this Infant lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His mother, Mary, kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

7. Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface:
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.

DO YOU KNOW?
40 days in a calendar year equals to one month and 10 days, or to be more specific:
- 3,456,000 seconds
- 57,600 minutes
- 960 hours
- 5 weeks and 5 days
- 10.96% of 2019

Sunday, August 04, 2019

You Forgot My Soul


You lived next door to me for years;
We shared our dreams, our joys and tears.
A friend to me you were indeed,
A friend who helped me when in need.

My faith in you was strong and sure.
We had such trust as should endure.
No “words” between us could impose;
Our friends were like – and so, our foes.

What sadness, then, my friend, to find
That, after all, you weren’t so kind;
The day my life on earth did end,
I found you weren’t a faithful friend.

For all those years we spent on earth,
You never talked of second birth.
You never spoke of my lost soul
And of the Christ Who’d make me whole.

I’m lost today eternally
And tell you now my earnest plea.
You cannot do a thing for me –
No words today my bonds will free.

But – do not err, my friend, again –
Do all you can for souls of men.
Plead now with them quite earnestly,
Lest they be cast in hell with me.

Author Unknown