Tag Archives: O Holy Night

ADVENT #19 2019

“He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!”

There are wonderful things that happen when a lot of odd ingredients are mixed together in one bowl and produce a dessert that is way too sweet on such a ….. “O Holy Night”. Unbelievable singers sharing Christ-mass music. Christ-mass lights twinkling in every room. A kitty curled on the arm of the chair. Puppies stretched out under the feet. Devotions that just seemed to hit the sweet spot. Yum!

“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;”

Didn’t watch the news. Didn’t mess around on the computer. Instead – I played with some rocks, seashells, glitter, and candles while I listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Kristin Chenoweth. Earlier, as I was looking for something else – I found my dad’s journal from his time in China during WWII. He only wrote a few entries. But from the moment I opened it and saw his handwriting, I could hear his voice and feel the love he always showed his family.

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,”

The journal must have been passed out as a Christmas/New Year gift to new units arriving in China in 1946. It had facts about The Republic of China. The National Anthem. Monetary conversion charts. Key phrases for a soldier – written in Chinese – just in case needed. I was impressed when I found the map key he had made so that he would remember the notations on the small yearly calendar in the front of the journal.

74 years ago, my daddy was on a ship – a BIG ship – being socked with 40 foot waves at some points, heading for a far away country with people, animals and sights that he couldn’t begin to imagine. He was on that ship for 5 weeks according to his notations. He spent Christ-mass far away from his wife and little boy. He didn’t get Christ-mass cards or letters until February 1946. Just a small town fellow heading into the giant world of the unknown. Hard to imagine in our days of instant communication, isn’t it?

“Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!”

Don’t know why I happened upon this particular Christmas special on TV or why I found Dad’s journal just before I sat down. Don’t know why I never read Daddy’s tiny book before now. Don’t know why I decided to make some last minute gifts of Light. But as I read – and as the Christ-mass music circled around, the devotionals blended into this mixture thoughts and feelings as His presence filled this small home with His peace and grace. I have a feeling that I will continue to ponder all of these things until I tuck myself into bed and commend my soul into His keeping before I close my eyes to sleep.

“Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!”

Some nights are just like that. Nights that make you cry – then smile – then pull out the treasure chest of memories to feel blessed beyond measure. Peace reigns and Christ-mass is only a few days off. Time to:
“…Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.”

BTW – Kristin Chenoweth’s gowns are beyond classy and fabulous if you get a chance to watch this special. They are almost as gorgeous as her voice – especially when she sings “Mary, Did You Know?” or “O Holy Night”. And like me, she thinks Sandi Patti is pretty cool.  How about that? 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”~Is 55:8-9  large960_blur-5a5a26143a23b1ba57e9d591bb21fdbb

https://oklahoman.com/article/5649803/video-pbs-special-christmas-with-the-tabernacle-choir-featuring-kristin-chenoweth-airing-monday

THE CHRISTMAS CAROLS (7 Days and Counting)

“It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old…”

A week from tonight, Santa will be on his way. Churches will open their doors. Children in pj’s will squirm beside their parents. Old carols find new harmonies. A baby will be placed in a manger. Candles will be lit.

“A weary world rejoices…”~O Holy Night

Most of us know those first verses by heart. Fewer of us know the verses that follow. Many churches today only sing the first verse and then repeat a phrase or two as the band ramps up and people rejoice. And yet – many carols have so much more to say about this “glorious impossible”.

“Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.”

Such a gift this night. Angels sang and a new star appeared in the sky. But while it is important – it is just the opening of a new portal. Open the eyes and see. Listen. There is a knock. Open the ears and hear. He’s here. Love has come. Open hearts to receive. Open the doors and feel His Spirit move within.

“…And yet, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,”

When the oppression is too strong to lift the head..when the gravity and pain of choices overwhelms…when the feet feel like lead and steps are few and far between…when the mind reasons that all is lost…it is the songs that point the way beyond the dark, smelly stable. The “glorious impossible” in totality.

“For lo! the days are hast’ning on,
By prophet seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold
When Christ shall come and all shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And saints shall meet Him in the air,
And with the angels sing.”~It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

So sing.

Keep singing – not just one verse, but all the verses of the songs that He brought to that stable so long ago and offered to men of good will. The first verse points to the promises fulfilled. The later verses point to the promises yet to be. The “glorious impossible” was and is and is to come. To quote the Carpenters: “Sing. Sing the song. Make it simple to last your whole life long…”

(I know – it is not a carol, but sometimes my mind wanders, and I just have to laugh at where it leads – after all – IT’S ONLY 7 DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS)  Christmas-Angels-Card  [google image/Degrazia artwork]

THE CHRISTMAS CAROL (11 Days and Counting)

“The memory of a single hymn [carol] learned in childhood has often proved decisive in the spiritual crises of later years.”~Historian Ernest Edwin Ryden
 
As much as I love all my churches that have adapted to the “Christian-band-stage-presentation” format, I still miss the formality of the church in which I grew up. I miss the “standing-on-holy-ground” reverent quiet that seemed to circle the sanctuary even when I was all alone to cry or sing or pray or just sit in silent wonder. I miss the hymns – the carols – that everyone sang every year – in harmony. I miss the recitations of the Psalms, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Aaronic blessing said from the back of the church.
 
As I watched President Bush’s church funeral service, the sniffles tickled my throat with memories.
🎄My mom’s many solos.
🎄The smell of pipe smoke as I leaned into my dad’s side and closed my eyes.
🎄The organ my God-mother tried and tried to teach me to play (the feet couldn’t keep up with the hands).
🎄The instruments that would accompany the choir on special occasions – played by people/peers I knew and admired.
🎄“O Holy Night” – my first childhood solo with a choir.
🎄The many years as a soloist for a variety of city churches and even a synagogue or two which helped pay my way through college and those first years as a teacher.
🎄Walking down the aisle by myself to marry the Hubby.
🎄Directing my own kidlets’ programs in that same childhood church – and a few others.
🎄But the strongest memories are those of the voices – mom,dad, grandma, Hubby, kidlets’ voices – tickling my ears as we prayed – as we spoke the psalms – as we sang the carols – as we stood side-by-side in God’s presence and felt His spirit bind us closer than close.
 
On nights when the Christmas Spirit seems far away, in these days when disunity rips at my edges and the seams of our society, it is the carols that unites my heart with hope. I don’t even have to listen to a CD or the radio or – (you get the idea). The words are there – even the harmonies. All I have to do is close my eyes and hear yesterday’s voices singing those familiar words in my heart.
 
“O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” ~John S. Dwight the-nativity-greg-olsen (Greg Olsen artwork)