By Kent French
December 28, 2019 - 12:44pm
Happy Fourth Day of Christmas!
A few weeks ago, when we entered the season of Advent and began those four weeks leading up to Christmas, we were very intentional about not bursting into Christmas carols right away. We do have a weekly dose of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," the echt-Advent carol, because in keeping with the season, it anticipates Christ's coming. Since the broader culture is already loudly playing both sacred and secular Christmas season tunes, it seems a little counter-cultural. It's supposed to be.
On the Fourth Sunday morning of Advent, we give in a bit, by having our children lead us in an unrehearsed Christmas pageant. And we sing our old favorites, like "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Silent Night," while we gaze on the somewhat bewildered shepherds and sheep, the darling angels and the sweet Mary and Joseph, with baby Jesus -- this year played by one of our six-month-old babes. And on Christmas Eve, we let it rip, with a full-blown Lessons and Carols worship service.
Now we are in the 12-day season of Christmastide. This coming Sunday, as is often our tradition, we will sing some of our favorite, as well as some lesser-known Christmas carols. We tell the stories about some of them. For instance,
"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," was first written in 1863 as a Civil War Christmas call for peace by one of Cambridge's favorite citizens, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
"Twas in the Moon of Wintertime," is a 17th-century Jesuit priest's adaptation of the Nativity story for the Huron people of modern-day Canada.
"Go Tell it on the Mountain," is a spiritual made popular by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Nashville.
The words to "O Little Town of Bethlehem," were written by a great American 19th century preacher, Phillips Brooks, who was also the rector of Trinity Church, Boston, and Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts.
We will also take some requests...
To begin our carol sing, we will read and reflect on the lectionary texts for Christmas Day:
Psalm 96, which calls us to sing a new song;
Isaiah 9, which tells how a son has been born to us, bringing light and peace into the world;
Hebrews 1, which exalts Christ among the angels; and
the Prologue from John 1, which philosophically depicts how the Word (Greek, logos) of God became flesh and blood among us.
This is always a heart-warming, fun worship service, full of the spirit of Christmastide. I look forward to being together and raising our voices.
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