Posts tagged ‘Nahum’

December 5, 2014

Hark the Herald

by Bethany

Daily Reading
Nahum 3 (Listen – 3:20)
Luke 19 (Listen – 5:41)

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 

— Luke 2:13

In 1737, Charles Wesley was already a renowned hymn writer, who infused his music with energy and enthusiasm. One day, during his daily devotional time, he was working on a new Christmas hymn and wrote down the line, “Hark! How all the welkin rings, glory to the King of Kings.” “Welkin,” a word that is probably ancient to most of us, refers to the sky or the heavens or the firmament. Wesley then set the words to his own tune and shared it with his church.

When George Whitefield published the hymn, however, Wesley was not thrilled with his friend’s changes. Whitefield edited the opening phrase to say, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”—even though the Bible never mentions anything about angels singing at the birth of Christ. Whitefield’s independent mind was a mixed blessing—although his rhetoric and evangelicalism got him banned from the Anglican Church, the private meetings that were organized as a result of his departure eventually led to the revival meetings in Europe and the United States.

Although Wesley thought his words would be set to the tune of another hymn that he had written, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” others set it to a different one. In 1840, about a hundred years after the hymn’s composition, Mendelssohn composed a cantata to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Then, in 1855, English musician William H. Cummings adapted Mendelssohn’s composition to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Hark the Herald (Listen: Paisley Abby Choir – 2:59)

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

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Correction: A previous version of this post mistakenly used, “Herold” the proper spelling is, “Herald.”

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December 4, 2014

O Come, All Ye Faithful

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Nahum 2 (Listen – 2:16)
Luke 18 (Listen – 5:14)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

— Matthew 2:1-2

Little is known of John Francis Wade, but it is clear he was a layman, a published hymnist, and a rebel who died in exile. Long unattributed to its author, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” was thought to be an anonymous Latin hymn. Recently discovered fragments of Wade’s journal revealed the four original stanzas and the centrality faith played in his life. Both they lyrics and music were composed in 1744, the year before Wade’s life would change for good.

Not long after he completed the hymn, Wade filled the margins with calls for the Jacobites to rally against England’s King. It’s unclear how entwined the lyrics of Wade’s hymn were with the Jacobites larger mission, the then-century-old commitment to restore the lineage of James II, although it is clear that the hymn is a rallying cry at its heart. History did not favor the Jacobites, and The Jacobite Rising of 1745 was decisively defeated by the British in less than a year. The uprising’s leader had a price placed on his head and fled to France with what was left of his men.

“O Come All Ye Faithful” was first published in England in 1751, between the exile and Wade’s death in Douai, France. Notably, the published lyrics were written in French. It may be that this is part of why the hymn did not originally catch on, or it may be that more historical distance was needed between the Jacobites final attempt at the throne and modern worshipers. Either way, the hymn fell into relative obscurity until it was translated into English by Frederick Oakeley in 1841. Nearly a century after Wade first marveled at the Christ, the song would be adopted by the Church, new verses were added, and translations were made into over 100 languages.

Through Wade’s words, we are reminded not only of the power of awe, but the rally cry that Christ’s birth is. All earthly kings must be displaced, and while Wade wanted to replace them with kings of his choosing, Christ’s call is for purity in lordship; he is a good King, but he will not share the throne. Come marvel at the King of kings. Come, let us adore him, for he is Christ the Lord.

O Come, All Ye Faithful (Listen: The Baylor University A Cappella Choir – 2:59)

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:
O come, let us adore Him, (3x)
Christ the Lord.

God of God, light of light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, begotten, not created:
O come, let us adore Him, (3x)
Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!
Glory to God, glory in the highest:
O come, let us adore Him, (3x)
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!
O come, let us adore Him, (3x)
Christ the Lord.

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December 3, 2014

The First Noel

by Bethany

Daily Reading
Nahum 1 (Listen – 2:33)
Luke 17 (Listen – 4:17)

And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. 

— Matthew 2:9-11

The First Noel first appeared in print in 1833, but its origins date back at least 300 years before that. There is some debate about whether it came from France (The First Noel) or England (The First Nowell), but more evidence points to the carol migrating from Britain to France rather than the other way around.

Although the hymn’s anonymous writer was probably very passionate about the birth of Christ, he or she made scriptural mistakes in the song, e.g., the magi, not the shepherds, followed the star. Given that its origins date back to the Middle Ages, it is likely that the author was illiterate. Even if he or she could read, however, most Bibles of that time were in churches or monasteries and written in Latin.

It was pagan practice to embrace the tradition of the Yule log. Each winter, families would take hollowed-out logs and fill them with oils and spices. Then they would set the log in their fireplaces and light it using a splinter reserved from the prior year’s log. Some of the English peasants, when they became Christians, adapted the Yule log to Christmas. They would bring the log into the home on Christmas Eve and, as they lit it, they would sing The First Noel. It was to burn for 12 hours.

Both The First Noel and the Christmas Yule log tradition made their way to France around the fifteenth century. According to tradition, the song was introduced to the French people by British minstrels. Like the English, the common French people loved the song and its message. They also gave it their own twist—their children sang the song in rounds. 

The First Noel (Listen: Lady Antebellum – 3:02)

The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far:
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from the country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

This star drew nigh to the northwest;
O’er Bethlehem it took it’s rest,
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then entered in those wise men three,
Fell reverently upon their knee,
And offered there in his presence
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

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December 5, 2012

Advent: Grace and Expectations at Advent

by Perryn Pettus

by Rankin Wilbourne

About Rankin: Rankin is the Lead Pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles, a town that he enjoys because it turns around the idea of story and the need for a redemptive ending. Rankin lives with his wife Morgen, who grew up in New York City, along with their daughter and son. He enjoys sports, poetry and music, especially Bruce Springsteen.  For more about Rankin, click here.

Highlighted Text: Luke 19:12-13
M’Cheyne Text: Nahum 3; Luke 19

In this season of Advent, as we celebrate God’s grace coming to us, you might find yourself wondering, “If the Christian life is all of grace, what then does God expect of me?”

Cue the story Jesus tells in Luke 19: “He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas [a mina was about 3 months wages] and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come’” [1].

As opposed to Matthew’s version of the story, in which the servants receive different amounts of talents, in this telling, each receives the same gift. What does Jesus give in equal measure to every one of his followers? The gospel, a new identity, this is our coin. Each of us is given a vocation. The parable means that no Christian can any longer say, “I am insignificant.” Almost every other story in the Bible denounces pride, while this story is unique in denouncing humility.

In which of these servants do you find yourself portrayed?

There are two servants who did their work and made a profit. They are commended, verse 17, “Well done, good servant.” Godly ambition is a good thing. It’s admirable to want to build something. The question is, for whose name? These workers receive their master’s praise. Whose praise are you living for?

Which brings us to the third servant, dutifully carrying his coins around in his handkerchief, day after day. The real surprise of Jesus’ story is that the servant is judged not because of bad investments, but because of no investments. He did nothing wrong; he did nothing right.

Jesus is not telling a story about moral failures. He is talking about fearful and careful people who do everything they can to minimize risk because they do not trust the Master enough to live by His bold instruction.

We are saved by faith alone but faith that saves is never alone. Are you using your coin? Are you taking risks?

Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus. While we were yet neither good nor faithful servants, Jesus left his throne to enter the far county. Jesus, you are the good and faithful servant, so today in our work let our motive be to serve you, to live for the benediction you have already pronounced over us, “Well Done!” Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Luke 19:12-13

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December 4, 2012

Advent: Announcing Hope

by Perryn Pettus

by Ryan Taylor

About Ryan: Ryan is an Upper East Side Pastor at Apostles Church in New York City.  Prior to joining Apostles, Ryan worked in the Investment Banking Division of Bear Stearns and attended Indiana University.  Ryan is married to Katelyn, who leads Apostles’ Upper East Side worship team and was a featured vocalist on their debut album, Love Came Through.  Ryan and Katelyn met in NYC and live on the Upper East Side, where they have the privilege of living on mission with those in their community. For more, see here.

Highlighted Text: Nahum 2:1-2
M’Cheyne Text: Nahum 2; Luke 18

New York is not a city that naturally reinforces hope in the God of the Bible. Yet those that have been graciously bestowed with a “gospel lens” through which to interpret it grasp that Christ’s Second Advent and consummating redemption of all things is the ultimate hope for our city. Whether it’s poverty, racial tension, loneliness, the uncertain future of the unborn, sex slavery, or any other brokenness that pervades our boroughs, a gospel lens lets the Christian look to and hope in God’s promised justice – his making right all things through his Son.

Nahum had the privilege of announcing God’s good news to Judah that justice, relief, and restoration, were on the way. He announced with full confidence that the present state of oppression by the enemies of God, in this case Assyria, would soon be over because God had promised to liberate his people:

“The scatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; dress for battle; collect all your strength. For the LORD is restoring the majesty of Jacob as the majesty of Israel, for plunderers have plundered them and ruined their branches.” – Nahum 2:1-2 ESV

Nahum had the great privilege and responsibility of announcing that the God who is “great in power” [1] would one day pour out his wrath on the enemies of God that oppressed his people [2] and provide refuge for all who would seek it in him [3].

Today, as Christians in New York we have the same great privilege and responsibility to announce God’s promised hope, the Second Advent of Jesus. Our city aches to hear the good and unshakably true declaration that God himself has set a day when he will right every wrong. And all those that stand with and in him will be blessed and ushered into eternal intimate relationship with God himself [4].

God, May we as your people, armed with the truth and sufficiency of your Word, boldly declare hope and coming freedom to our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family that have yet to embrace the King of kings and Lord of lords. This Advent would we not be bashful or ashamed that our highest hope is in You and the return of the Christ. Lord, pour your Spirit generously into us, as you have promised [5], that we might delight in you supremely and announce your gospel invitation boldly. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Nahum 1:3  |  [2] Nahum 2:13  |  [3] Nahum 1:7  |  [4] John 17:3  |  [5] Luke 11:13

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