A long time before the very first Christmas, preparations were already happening!
A bit like today – but not too much!
This wasn’t about shopping and lists – this was something much bigger!
A long time before the first Christmas, for some, a long way away from where the first Christmas happened – preparations were being made.
Come – and find out ……….
A New Offering
In S1 or S2 our school choir sang The Angel Gabriel and a group of us thought it was funny to try to sing highly “flavoured” lady and got told off several times in rehearsals for having fits of the giggles but on the day, in the church, the mood was incredibly different and I got goosebumps and I found the whole experience incredibly moving.
Why did he come?well –
As Advent brings us closer to Christmas, a hymn that explains the meaning of his coming.
O Holy Night In adolescence I particularly remember cycling to St Gabriel’s Church in Clontarf for midnight mass one frosty, clear, starry Christmas Eve with 3 teenage school pals as we had heard the choir was excellent and they gave a carol concert before the mass from 11.00 or so. It was there I heard “Minuit Chretiens” or “Oh Holy Night” in English for the first time – which is probably my favourite. Carol. After moving to London, I’m pretty sure I heard “Oh Holy Night” again with my friend Duncan and his parents at mid-night mass at the Brompton Oratory. I’m not certain as the Oratory choir and orchestra used to perform high classical music at the major feasts of Christmas and Easter such as Mozarts Coronation Mass. but I certainly heard “Minuit Chretiens” on records at their home. Duncan’s mother was French and it was her favourite carol. Jerry
For my wife Sheila who looks forward to that one at the watch night service! I like it too as it is fitting for Advent
Mary, did you know? “It is an amazing carol full of wonder, and human emotion. The line “Mary did you know that when you kissed your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God”, it brought a vivid memory of the over whelming wonder, miracle and thankfulness at the birth of my babies. I could appreciate a little bit how Mary may have felt. Just a lovely, lovely carol!”
“Joy to the world the Lord has Come, let earth receive her King, Let evert heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heave and nature sing” CH4 320 V1. Isaac Watts. The hymn whether read or Sung encompasses the appreciative and celebratory nature of our love, joy and peace in Christ.
One carol I find special is In the bleak mid winter but in particular the words “But what I can I give him Give him my heart” Christmas seems to be getting very secular with too much emphasis on the best presents we can get for our children, family and friends. Our presents to each other are not the important part but our present to God is what is important. Not costing us any money, the precious gift of our heart.
To raise a smile or two
Esther and George Taylor
WHAT THE DONKEY SAW
No room in the Inn of course
And not much in the stable
What with the shepherds, Magi, Mary
Joseph, the heavenly host –
Not to mention the baby.
Using our manger as a cot
You wouldn’t have squeezed
Another cherubin in
For love or money.
Still, in spite of the overcrowding,
I did my best to make them feel wanted
I could see the baby and I
Would be going places together.
B.C : A.D.
This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Un-invented timekeepers present arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawling lovingly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and
Three members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazardly by starlight
Straight into the Kingdom of Heaven. U.A.Fanthorpe.
My choice of carol is Silent Night. No doubt along with many others! I have a childhood memory of our Brownie Pack being invited to sing carols to elderly long-time patients in the local Cottage Hospital. I was 10 years old and I have never forgotten the looks of pure joy on the faces of the patients. It reinforced the teaching from parents and Sunday School of the importance of simple acts of kindness.
The line from a carol that says it all to me is Love came down at Christmas. Sums everything up!
Something special needn’t be an old memory but can come to be a beautiful recollection from the recent past too. A local musician, now living in London, wrote this song which reflects sadness at Christmas get-togethers not happening in 2020, the people we have lost in the last wee while and hoping that this year will be different. Advent also calls us to hope in the promise that God is calling us to greater things and will be with us as we live them.
Ring out the bells
Sing out loud. Today’s choice comes from Matthew
Belleau WoodThe great cease fire we all want across the world – but maybe fear gets in the way: yet when we work, sing together and unite voices and lives – well.,……I first heard this read as a poem at Moniaive Primary School. It became the main part of our Watchnight Service that year.
These Christmas cards maybe don’t qualify but they’re from my favourite cards box so they’ve obviously touched me in some way. I love the vibrant colours and flowing lines with the obvious nod to stained glass. Images can often speak louder and brighter than words. The anonymous faces work well for me as they prompt me to think who these people actually were and allow them to represent everyone. I don’t think traditional art always portrays an image of Mary and Jesus in a way I can relate to, yet the stylised, faceless heart shaped motif speaks of love, life, shelter, growth and holiness.
I keep a copy of the words on my coffee table to remind me of the wonder of it all…..inspiring and challenging.
I could kneel with the shepherds as they come to worship you
I could give presents with the wise men, gifts of gold and fine perfume
I could join with the angels singing praises at your birth
But I choose to offer something more, a gift of greater worth
I give you the gift of my life, I lay it humbly at Your feet, Your feet
All that I am or ever hope to be I give to the One who comes to give His life for me
You gave me the gift of my life, You laid it humbly at my feet
All that I am or ever hope to be is found in the One who comes to give His life for me
Wondrous child, gift of heaven how we welcome you to earth
Wondrous love fills our hearts with promise as we celebrate Your birth
Wondrous grace come to save us, come to set us free, give life anew and
You chose to give Your life away saying I did this for you
You gave me the gift or your life, You laid it humbly at my feet
All that I am or could ever hope to be is found in the One who comes to give His life for me
People all around me are hurting, lost and cold
I hear their voices crying, see them reaching out for someone to hold
Your love can help them, give them hope and meet their need
Use this life dear Saviour, I will be Your hands and feet
I give You the gift of my life, I lay it humbly at Your feet
All that I am or could ever hope to be, I give to the One
I give to the Son
I give to the One who comes to give His life for me
David S Gaines Ruth Elaine Schram
My favourite is “O Holy Night” one of the most beautiful carols i have heard, the music and the words, especially when it gets to the crescendo “O fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices”
My choice has to be Once in Royal David’s City. When I was a teenager I was in the choir in St John’s Kirk in Perth. At the start of the Watchnight service, all the lights were turned off and the choir walked down each side aisle and up the middle aisle holding lit candles and singing Once In Royal David’s City. It found it profoundly moving and a meaningful start to the Christmas celebration. The memory of that feeling is still with me every Christmas Eve.
When I sing this or hear others sing it I always imagine all living beings where ever they are on earth, just standing still and listening, gathered in complete peace. It was my Dad’s favourite hymn and I loved singing it with him when I was a wee girl. He sang it in German….I never actually asked him why as he came from Leith!, but I think he must have learnt that in Egypt during his National Service.