Preparing for Worship - December 24
Join us this Sunday morning at 10:30am and also Sunday evening at 5:30pm for our Christmas Eve Candlelight service. It is this Sunday where the season of Advent reaches its climax. Advent is a season of longing and waiting for the Lord to arrive. It's a good time of year to celebrate the fact that the Lord has come, but also to train our hearts to long for his coming again. The kingdom of God is here, but it is not yet arrived in its fullness. And this should motivate us to pray with great vigor: "O Come O Come Emmanuel!" Here are the songs we'll sing together Sunday morning:
1. JOY TO THE WORLD
Style: We will play the original version of this song. It is up-tempo, peppy, and joyful.
Song Info: This song was penned by Isaac Watts in 1719 and appeared in his collection The Psalms of David. This valuable volume was Watts' attempt to set the Psalms to rhyme and meter while at the same time Christianizing the language of the Psalms. This particular tune is based on Psalm 98:4-9. Psalm 98 is a hymn of thanksgiving to the God who comes to judge the earth. According to this Psalm, God has made his salvation known among the nations and all of creation is to praise him for it. This is what we sing in Joy to the World.
2. WHAT CHILD IS THIS?
Style: We will sing the traditional version of this hymn. It will be mid-tempo.
Song Info: The melody of this song dates back to the 16th century and is commonly known as "Greensleeves". William C. Dix wrote the lyrics. This is another song that causes us to meditate on the humble nature of Christ. "This! This! Is Christ the king". This unlikely, unlooked for, unadorned, poor child is actually the anointed one of God. The audio included here does not exactly match the version we will sing, but it does give an idea about the tempo, melody, and feel that we'll be going for.
3. GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN REJOICE
Style: We will play the traditional version of this song. It is mid to up-tempo.
Song Info: I love the whimsical nature of this hymn. The melody dates from the middle ages (1328) and it was originally a mixture of German and Latin. It was known as "In Dulci Jubilo". It is a hymn full of joy at the coming of Christ. My favorite line is "now ye need not fear the grave/ peace! peace! Jesus Christ was born to save". We will conclude our Christmas music with this song as we look toward the hope of the resurrection.
4. LET ALL MORTAL FLESH KEEP SILENCE
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn. It is a slow tempo.
Song Info: This hymn, in one way or another, dates back to the fifth century. It is one of the oldest surviving Christian hymns, possibly dating even earlier to AD 275. It was originally written in Greek to be a eucharistic hymn. Though it has come to be recognized as a Christmas song, it's true emphasis is on the Lord's Supper. That's why we'll sing it on Sunday before celebrating the sacrament. We will also likely sing it at other times of the year, as well.
5. O Holy Night
Style: We will play the traditional version of this hymn.
Song Info: Adolphe Adam composed this carol in 1847 using a french poem written by Placide Cappeau - a poet and wine merchant. It focuses on the birth of Christ and humanity's redemption. The original poem only remotely resembles the version that we sing today. But what's interesting is that the poet was an unbeliever. Yet, he was still able to grasp and articulate many deep things of Christian theology. A stanza from the original poem reads:
Midnight, Christians, is the solemn hour,
When God as man descended unto us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.
The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Saviour.
This wonderful carol not only focuses on the birth of Christ, but on the dawning of the Kingdom of Light which came about with his advent. Some of my favorite lines which highlight this are:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till 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.
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.
See you Sunday!