Posts tagged ‘Revelation’

December 31, 2013

843 Acres Christmas Day 7: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

by Bethany

The Text

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

The Story

Thomas Chisholm was born in Franklin, Kentucky, on July 29, 1866. He grew up in a log cabin and, at 16 years old, became a teacher. When he was 27, he had a conversion experience during a revival led by Dr. Henry Clay Morrison.

Chisholm ended up becoming a Methodist minister for a year before resigning because of his poor health. Over his lifetime, he wrote 1,200 poems, which appeared in many Christian periodicals. He also served as an editor of the Pentecostal Herald in Louisville for a short time. In 1909, he began his career as a life insurance agent in New Jersey.

In 1923, when he was 57 years old, Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” He submitted it to William Runyon, who was a composer affiliated with the Moody Bible Institute. Runyon set the poem to music and Hope Publishing Company published it the same year in which it was written.

On this last day of the year, may we look back and remember the faithfulness of the Lord so that, as we look forward to the mystery and unknown future of 2014, we trust in the One who has proven Himself faithful already. For “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price … He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” [1]

The Lyrics

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Refrain

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Refrain

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:

2 Chr 36 (text | audio, 4:17 min)
Rev 22 (text | audio, 4:11 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Revelation 217, 20-21 ESV

December 30, 2013

843 Acres Christmas Day 6: As with Gladness Men of Old

by Bethany

The Text

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27 ESV)

The Story

William Chatterton Dix was born in Bristol, England, on June 14, 1837. His father, who was a surgeon and a writer, gave him the middle name Chatterton as a nod to Thomas Chatterton, a poet about whom he had written a biography.

After Dix completed his schooling, he became the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland. Although this was his vocation until the end of his life, Dix was also a hymn writer. Over the course of his life, he wrote 40 hymns, including “The Manger Throne,” from which “What Child Is This?” is taken.

On January 6, 1859, the day of Epiphany, Dix was sick in bed. While housebound, he wrote “As with Gladness Men of Old” to celebrate the visit of the magi. He first published it in 1867 in his Hymns of Love and Joy. The carol points back to the star that was seen by the magi in Bethlehem and forward to the light of Jesus seen by the nations in the New Jerusalem.

The Lyrics

As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
2 Chr 35 (text | audio, 4:59 min)
Rev 21 (text | audio, 4:46 min)

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December 27, 2013

843 Acres Christmas Day 3: O Light Incarnate!

by Bethany

The Text

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-4 ESV)

The Story

Traditionally, December 27 is the feast day of the apostle John. The Catholic Church refers to him as “Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist” and the Anglican Community calls him simply “John, Apostle and Evangelist.” It has been celebrated since at least the 4th century, when the Syriac Breviary (the Latin liturgical book of the Catholic Church) was published. [1]

Of the twelve apostles, John was one of the three men closest to Jesus. The other two were Peter and James, John’s brother. They were the ones who witnessed the Transfiguration [2] and the Agony in Gethsemane [3]. Also, John was sent, along with Peter, by Jesus to Jerusalem in order to prepare for the Passover Seder on the night that Jesus was betrayed. (Christians now refer to the commemoration of this meal as The Lord’s Supper. [4]) At this meal, John sat next to Jesus. He also was the only apostle to remain at the feet of Jesus at Calvary.

One gospel, three letters, and Revelation are attributed to John. In his gospel, he refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” It was likely written sometime between AD 70 (when the temple was destroyed) and AD 100 (circa when John died). As a Palestinian Jew, his audience was both Jewish and Gentile. Tradition states that he is the only apostle that was not martyred; he died of old age.

As Christians, of course, we do not look to John for our faith; we look to Christ alone. He is the model to follow; his courage and strength are alone to be worshiped. The courage we have is a glimpse of his glory, not ours. As Paul told the crowds in Lystra, when they started to bow down to him, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things [idols] to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” [5]

The Lyrics

O Light Incarnate! Son of God!
Shed Thy bright Birthday beams
Upon our Church, upon our hearts,
In Sacramental streams;
And while we hail Thy Christmas-tide
With solemn Eucharist,
Accept our loving thanks and praise
For Thine Evangelist.

John the Divine, whose doctrine glows
As crystal in the sun,
Translucent with the Light of Light,
The Incarnate Holy One;
His first Apocalypse he saw
In Patmos’ sacred isle,
And now he stands, enwrapped, entranced
In God’s eternal smile.

And Light is shining down from Heaven
To gladden all the earth,
For John’s evangel still declares
The Mystery of God’s Birth,
And through the darkness of the world,
Led by that Gospel ray,
The Church in perfect safety walks
To light of endless day.

So keep us, Jesus, in Thy Truth,
That we at last may rise
Where shadows all shall flee away
Before our opening eyes,
Transfigured and transformed with him
Whose praise today we sing,
Into Thy Likeness Who art Light,
Its Maker and its King.

And grant us even now to see
Here, in this holy place,
Some Revelation of Thyself
In Sacraments of Grace,
Till with Thy loved Evangelist
We reach our Heavenly Rest,
And share his sweet Beatitude,
“Leaning on Jesus’ Breast.”

O Son of Mary! Son of God!
To Thee our hymns ascent,
With Father, Spirit, ever One,
We praise Thee without end;
O! by Thine Incarnation, Lord,
Preserve us in Thy Grace,
Till in that Light we see Thy Light
And worship face to face.

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
Friday, December 27: 2 Chr 32 (text | audio, 5:49 min) & Rev 18 (text | audio, 4:48 min)
Saturday, December 28: 2 Chr 33 (text | audio, 4:16 min) & Rev 19 (text | audio, 3:56 min)
Sunday, December 29: 2 Chr 34 (text | audio, 6:12 min) & Rev 20 (text | audio, 3:05 min)
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Editor’s Note: If you live in NYC, you might be interested in attending one of the three services begin today at the beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side near Columbia University. (calendar)

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 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Wikipedia. “Breviary.” | [2] John 17:1-3 | [3] Matthew 26:36-46 | [4] 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 | [5] Acts 14:15 ESV

 

December 26, 2013

843 Acres Christmas Day 2: Good King Wenceslas

by Bethany

The Text

Now when they heard these things [the history of Israel's rejection of the prophets of the Lord, including Jesus] they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed togetherat him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:54-60 ESV)

The Story

Today, the day after Christmas, marks the second day of Christmas, when – as the song goes – “my true love gave to me, two turtle doves”. Although rumors have it that the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was a clandestine catechism intended to teach children biblical truth, the actual meaning and origin of the popular carol is unknown. What is known, however, is that the twelve days of Christmas anticipate the visit of the magi, which is celebrated annually on January 6.

In addition to being the second day of Christmas, December 26 is also a public holiday in countries that celebrate Boxing Day. Traditionally, Boxing Day was a day when bosses and employers gave their servants “Christmas Boxes” filled with gifts, bonuses, and food. Since they would have worked on Christmas, the servants took the day after Christmas as a day of rest and family visitation. Today, Boxing Day is mainly known as a bank holiday.

The “Christmas Box” tradition of Boxing Day may have its origins in St. Stephen’s Day, when churches in the late Roman and early Christian era would place metal boxes outside their buildings to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen. Also celebrated on December 26, St. Stephen’s Day is a national holiday in several countries, e.g., Germany, Ireland, Philippines. Stephen was the first follower of Jesus to be killed for his faith.

In 1853, John Mason Neale wrote “Good King Wenceslas,” which became popularized as a carol to be sung on St. Stephen’s Day because the “Good King” “looked out “on the Feast of St. Stephen.” The carol is a legend based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia, who was considered a martyr and saint after his death in the 10th century. It celebrates his alms-giving to the poor.

As Christians, of course, we do not look to the Good King or Stephen for our faith; we look to Christ alone. He is the model to follow; his loving charity is the one to emulate. The love that we show others is a glimpse of his glory, not ours.

The Lyrics

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
2 Chr 31 (text | audio, 4:05 min)
Rev 17 (text | audio, 3:24 min)
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Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: At the end of the year, we remember with thankful hearts our generous donors who enable these devotionals to be mobile and free of charge to our community of readers. We also welcome any of you who are not already supporters to join us by clicking here. Thank you! (Also, we have loved hearing from you during this Advent season! Merry Christmas! Bethany Jenkins on behalf of The Park Forum.)

___________________

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December 25, 2013

843 Acres Christmas Day 1: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

by Bethany

Requested by a reader in New York, New York, and an email subscriber in Knoxville, TN. Disclosure: This carol and the one from yesterday are my personal favorites. Merry First Day of Christmas! – Bethany

The Text

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:22-23 ESV, quoting Isaiah 7:14)

The Story

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” was written by an unknown author some time before the 8th century. Originally, it was sung in Latin and used only in formal Catholic masses. Known as the O Antiphons, it has seven verses in its original form. One verse was sung or chanted each day during the last seven days before Christmas Eve:

  • Dec. 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • Dec. 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • Dec. 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • Dec. 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • Dec. 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • Dec. 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations
  • Dec. 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us Is God)

The Benedictine monks who arranged the antiphons intentionally ordered them to form an acronym. Starting with the final title, the first letters say, ERO CRAS, which means, “Tomorrow, I will come,” in Latin. Thus, O Antiphons “not only bring intensity to their Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.”

In the 19th century, John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coffin translated the Latin text “Veni, veni, Emmanuel” to “Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel.” It was set to the tune “Veni Emmanuel,” which was a 15th century processional used by a community of French Franciscan nuns living in Portugal.

The tune is thoroughly biblical.

  • O Sapientia: Isaiah 11:2-3 says that “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding” will rest upon the Messiah. [1]
  • O Adonai: Exodus 20 shows us that the Law was given to the tribes “on Sinai’s height”. [2]
  • O Radix Jesse: Isaiah 11 says that the Messiah will come from “the stump of Jesse.” [3]
  • O Clavis David: Isaiah 22:2 says that “the key of the house of David” will be given to the Messiah. [4]
  • O Oriens: Isaiah 9:2 tells us that the people in darkness will see “a great light.” [5]
  • O Rex Gentium: Ephesians 2 says that “Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” brings together the Jews and Gentiles into one family. [6]
  • O Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:22-23 introduce us to Jesus as Immanuel – that is, “God with us.”

The Lyrics
Verses in italics are less commonly sung.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Refrain

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

Refrain

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
from ev’ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Refrain

O come, Thou Key of David, come
and open wide our heav’nly home;
make safe the way that leads on high
that we no more have cause to sigh.

Refrain

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

Refrain

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven’s peace.

___________________

M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
2 Chr 30 (text | audio, 4:39 min)
Rev 16 (text | audio, 3:20 min)
___________________

Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: At the end of the year, we remember with thankful hearts our generous donors who enable these devotionals to be mobile and free of charge to our community of readers. We also welcome any of you who are not already supporters to join us by clicking here. Thank you! (Also, we have loved hearing from you during this Advent season! Merry Christmas! Bethany Jenkins on behalf of The Park Forum.)

___________________

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 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes 

[1] See also Isaiah 28:29; Song of Songs 8:1. | [2] See also Isaiah 11:4-5; 33:22; Exodus 3:2; 24:12 | [3] See also Isaiah 11:10; 45:13; 52:15; Romans 15:12. | [4] See also Isaiah 9:7; 42:7. | [5] See also Isaiah 60:1-2; Malachi 4:2. | [6] See also Isaiah 9:6; 2:4; 28:16

 

December 24, 2013

843 Acres Advent: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

by Bethany

Requested by an email subscriber. Disclosure: This carol and the one coming tomorrow are my personal favorites. I saved “the best” for last. Merry Christmas! – Bethany

The Text

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 ESV)

The Story

Many Hebrew prophets pointed to the Messiah’s coming. Isaiah, for example, spoke about “a sign” – “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” [1]. Micah, too, prophesied about his origins: “Bethlehem Ephrathah … from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” [2].

Although these prophecies were spoken to Israel, the Hebrew Bible has hints that the Lord had a plan for the world, not just Israel. For example, Isaiah prophesied, “In that day, there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day, Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance’” [3].

This is astonishing. The Lord was telling Israel, his chosen people, that their enemies would be called “my people” and “the work of my hands.” Up until this point, only Israel had been described using these tender, intimate words. What was God doing?

In the first verse of “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” Charles Wesley celebrates the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies in the person of Jesus. Written in 1744, this carol is one of almost 9,000 hymns written by Wesley – that is, a hymn every day for almost 25 years. Wesley describes Jesus as the “long-expected” Messiah and “Israel’s strength and consolation,” which is a reference to Luke’s gospel, where Simeon is “waiting for the consolation of Israel” [4]. Yet Wesley, too, points beyond Israel, saying that Jesus is the “hope of all the earth” and the “dear desire of every nation” and the “joy of every longing heart.”

The second verse talks about the purpose of the Incarnation (“to deliver”), the dual nature of Christ (“a child and yet a King”), his ability to save us (“by Thine all sufficient merit”), and the future for which we long (“raise us to Thy glorious throne”).

The Lyrics

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne. 

___________________

M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
2 Chr 29 (text | audio, 5:51 min)
Rev 15 (text | audio, 1:32 min)

___________________

Christmas Logo 2

Special Note: At the end of the year, we remember with thankful hearts our generous donors who enable these devotionals to be mobile and free of charge to our community of readers. We also welcome any of you who are not already supporters to join us by clicking here. Thank you! (Also, we have loved hearing from you during this Advent season! Merry Christmas! Bethany Jenkins on behalf of The Park Forum.)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
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 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Isaiah 7:14 ESV | [2] Micah 5:2 ESV | [3] Isaiah 19:23-25 ESV | [4] Luke 2:25 ESV

December 23, 2013

843 Acres Advent: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

by Bethany

Requested by an email subscriber in Bridgeport, CT

The Text

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14 KJV)

The Story

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Believe me, every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.” He himself had secret and public sorrows. In 1835, when he was only 27 years old, his wife died of illness. After remaining single for seven years and then remarrying in 1843, he and his second wife had six children. In 1862, however, a fire started in their home and his wife died of severe burns. That same year, the American Civil War began. Throughout these years, Henry battled long period of depression—even taking a six-month sabbatical at one point to visit a health spa in Germany.

In 1863, his oldest son, Charles, joined the Union Army against his father’s wishes. Charles sent him a letter: “I have tried to resist the temptation of going without your leave, but I cannot any longer. I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it, if it would be of any good.” A few months later, in November, Charles was injured during the Mine Run Campaign.

That Christmas Day, faced with the on-going loss of his wife and the suffering of his son, Henry wrote the poem “Christmas Bells.”  Two stanzas in the poem rarely appear in the carol, but they clearly point to the war:

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

The last stanza, of course, shows Longfellow’s hope in the midst of the war:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Interestingly, although Christmas was celebrated before and during the American Civil War, it did not become an official Federal holiday until 1870, when President Ulysses S. Grant declared it so in an attempt to unite the South and the North. [1]

In 1872, the poem was set to music by John Baptiste Calkin, an English organist, who used the poem in a processional accompanied with a melody he previously used (“Waltham”).

The Lyrics

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

___________________

M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
2 Chr 27-28 (text | audio, 6:09 min)
Rev 14 (text | audio, 4:27 min)

___________________

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 ____________________________________ 

Footnotes

[1] Wikipedia. Christmas in the American Civil War.

 

December 20, 2013

843 Acres Advent: Do You Hear What I Hear?

by Bethany

Requested by a reader in New York, New York.

The Text

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together … They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:6, 9-10 ESV)

The Story

Noël Regney was drafted into the Nazi army during World War II, but he quickly joined a group of French Resistance fighters and became a double agent for the French. After the war ended, he went to New York City. When he visited the Beverly Hotel (now called the Benjamin Hotel on East 50th Street at Lexington), he saw a beautiful woman, Gloria Shayne, playing the piano. Although he barely spoke English and she barely spoke French, he approached her. They were married within a month.

Their newlywed bliss, however, was dampened by current events. In the 1950s, the United States was involved in Korea. After Korea, Regney watched France and the United States get entangled in Vietnam. Then, in October 1962, they witnessed the 14-day Cuban Missile Crises confrontation between the United States on one side and the Soviet Union and Cuba on the other.

In the midst of this sadness and suffering, Regney saw babies in strollers on the streets of New York City. Then he wrote, “Said the night wind to the little lamb, ‘Do you hear what I hear?’” and, “Pray for peace, people everywhere.” When he finished the lyrics, Shayne composed the tune. The song was released shortly after Thanksgiving 1962. Years later, after the song was popularized, Shayne told an interviewer, “Noël wrote a beautiful song and I wrote the music. We couldn’t sing it, though … Our little song broke us up. You must realize that there was a threat of nuclear war at the time.”

The lyrics of the song describe how news of Jesus’s birth were relayed to increasingly higher authorities—the night wind to the small lamb to the shepherd boy to the king—and then to the people everywhere. The lyrics, however, are not quite biblical. For example, the king at the time of Jesus’s birth was Herod the Great. Far from calling the people to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Herod called for the death of Jesus, which caused Mary and Joseph to flee.

The Lyrics

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.”

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the the sea,
With a voice as big as the the sea.”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
“Do you know what I know?
In your palace walls, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold–
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!

Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light.”

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:

Friday, December 20: 2 Chr 24 (text | audio, 5:01 min) & Rev 11 (text | audio, 3:21 min)
Saturday, December 21: 2 Chr 25 (text | audio, 4:58 min) & Rev 12 (text | audio, 2:57 min)
Sunday, December 22: 2 Chr 26 (text | audio, 3:50 min) & Rev 13 (text | audio, 3:09 min)

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Special Note: At the end of the year, we remember with thankful hearts our generous donors who enable these devotionals to be mobile and free of charge to our community of readers. We also welcome any of you who are not already supporters to join us by clicking here. Thank you! (Also, we have loved hearing from you during this Advent season! Merry Christmas! Bethany Jenkins on behalf of The Park Forum.)

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December 19, 2013

843 Acres Advent: O Holy Night

by Bethany

Requested by a follower on Twitter and several email subscribers.

The Text

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7 ESV)

The Story

Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was a merchant of wines and spirits in a small town in France. He was also known for his poetry and literature. In December 1847, the priest of the parish that Cappeau sometimes attended asked him to write a poem for Christmas mass. On his way to Paris, as Cappeau was reading and meditating on Luke 2, he wrote the words of “Cantique de Noel” (“O Holy Night”). He decided, however, that his poem needed to be a song. Yet he was not musically inclined.

His friend, Aldophe Charles Adams, was an accomplished musician and composer. Although Adams was Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas, he was committed to his friendship with Cappeau. Having already written several operas and ballets, Adams composed an original score that was ready for production within three weeks. On Christmas Eve, it was performed at mass.

“Cantique de Noel” was initially accepted by many churches, but it was later denounced as “unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and its absence of the spirit of religion.” [1] In truth, it was discovered that Cappeau had joined the socialist movement and that Adams was Jewish. Although the church tried to bury the song, the people continued to sing it.

A decade later, John Sullivan Dwight, who was a graduate of Harvard College and Divinity School, a Unitarian minister, a writer, and an abolitionist, discovered “Cantique de Noel.” He read it in French and fell in love with its lyrics, especially, “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease.” He published its English translation in Dwight’s Journal of Music, which popularized it in the United States.

Interestingly, the first audible sound ever heard on AM radio airways happened in 1906 on Christmas Eve. Reginald Fessenden—a young university professor and former chemist for Thomas Edison—used a new type of generator and spoke into a microphone. He read the birth of Christ from Luke’s account of the gospel. After finishing the recitation, he picked up his violin and played, “O Holy Night.” It became the first song ever sent through the airwaves. For the final verse, he set down his violin and sang the words.

The Lyrics

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
2 Chr 22-23 (text | audio, 2:33 min)
Rev 10 (text | audio, 1:47 min)

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Special Note: At the end of the year, we remember with thankful hearts our generous donors who enable these devotionals to be mobile and free of charge to our community of readers. We also welcome any of you who are not already supporters to join us by clicking here. Thank you! (Also, we have loved hearing from you during this Advent season! Merry Christmas! Bethany Jenkins on behalf of The Park Forum.)

___________________

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Footnotes

[1] Ace Collins. Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. (Note: Although I have used this book as a resource, I do not recommend it. Several song histories have not been accurate.)

December 18, 2013

843 Acres Advent: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

by Bethany

Requested by email subscribers in Dallas, Texas, and Knoxville, TN, as well as by a Facebook fan in New York, NY.

The Text

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women. (Song of Solomon 2:1-2 ESV)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from its roots shall bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1 ESV)

The Story

“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (“A rose has sprung up”) is most commonly translated to English as “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” or “A Spotless Rose.” Originally published in 1582 (or 1588), its writer is anonymous.

Both Catholics and Protestants have claimed its theological meaning. Catholics emphasize its focus on Mary, saying that the carol compares her to the rose praised in Song of Solomon 2:1: “a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” One folklore says that its origins date back to a monk in Trier, Germany, who found a blooming rose on Christmas Eve while walking in the woods and placed the rose before the altar to the Virgin Mary. By 1609, however, Protestants were underscoring the carol’s reference to Isaiah 11:1: “a shoot from the stump of Jesse.” For not only does the hymn say, “Of Jesse’s lineage coming,” the tree of Jesse was often depicted as a rose plant in medieval iconography.

Whatever its origins, the poet Christiana Rosetti (1830-1894) gave tribute to both interpretations of the carol without choosing betwixt. (See Feast of the Whereto Shall We Liken This Blessed Mary Virgin and Herself a Rose, Who Bore the Rose.)

Stanzas 1 and 2 are a combination of folklore (“amid the cold of winter”) and Christological interpretation of Isaiah 11:1 and 35:1-2. The song has been featured in popular American culture, including in the Academy Award winning film, “Love Story.”

The Lyrics

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came, a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half-spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind:
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright
She bore to us a Savior,
When half-spent was the night.

This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor,
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us,
And lightens ev’ry load.

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M’Cheyne Reading As Scheduled:
2 Chr 21 (text | audio, 3:16 min)
Rev 9 (text | audio, 3:18 min)

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Special Note: As with any good music activity, we are taking requests. If you have a favorite song that you would like to see featured, email us at info@theparkforum.org.

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