Merry Christmas

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

Here are two Christmas carols that have been on my heart and mind quite a bit in the past few days. The first, O Little Town of Bethehem, is very familiar; the second, A Stable Lamp is Lighted, is probably less familiar to most of us, but has a profound message as well. And, these are only two of hundreds of wonderful pieces of music and poetry that nurture our hearts and minds as we contemplate the wonder of “God with us.”

O Little Town of Bethlehem Hymn 79
Text: Rev. Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) written in 1868 when Brooks was the Rector of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia. Inspired by a visit to Bethlehem in 1865. Music: Lewis Redner (1831-1908) The organist at Holy Trinity. First sung Christmas 1868.  Another Tune: Ralph Vaughn Willams (1872-1958)  Composed in 1903 and based on an English folk ballad.

Vs. 3
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in.

A Stable Lamp Is Lighted Hymn 104
Text: Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) Poet, professor. (U.S. Poet Laureate; Pulitzer Prize winner) Music: David Hurd (1950-) Composer, organist, choir director, professor. 

A stable lamp is lighted whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices, and every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry, and straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven, a stall become a shrine.

This Child through David’s city shall ride in triumph by;
The palm shall strew its branches, and every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry, though heavy, dull and dumb,
And lie within the roadway to pave His kingdom come.

Yet He shall be forsaken, and yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken, and every stone shall cry.
And even stone shall cry for stony hearts of men.
God’s blood upon the spearhead, God’s love refused again.  

 But now, as at the ending, the low is lifted high;
The stars shall bend their voices, and every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry in praises of the Child
By whose descent among us the worlds are reconciled.

I would like to remind you that there is a strong tradition dating back to AD 567 that Christmas is to be celebrated for twelve days. Let the party continue!

May the Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love of Jesus fill you to overflowing today and forever.