Monday, December 25, 2017

Joy to the World!

Joy to the World! 
By: Isaac Watts

Joy the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King;
Let ev'ry heart prepare him room, and heav'n and nature sing, 
And heav'n and nature sing, and heav'n and heav'n and nature sing. 

Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; 
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy. 

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found;
Far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found. 

He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, and wonders of his love,
And wonders, wonders of his love.

While you're reading, you may want to listen to this beautiful hymn. 
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This wonderful Christmas carol was first published in a collection of hymns by the English poet and hymn writer Isaac Watts. The collection, Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament was published in 1719 and contained 132 of the 150 psalms from the Bible, interpreted by Isaac Watts. "Joy to the World" comes from Psalm 98, verses 4-9. 
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together. Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Before the age of nine, Isaac Watts learned Latin and Greek, and by the time he was thirteen, was close to mastering French and Hebrew. God gave him a brilliant mind; he authored several books on religion and philosophy that had a major impact upon English thought during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Isaac had a desire to promote singing in English congregations. He wanted to make the Scriptures relevant to lay (common) people and saw hymns as a perfect vehicle for this. At the age of eighteen, Isaac began to compose hymns for his own church at the rate of one per week. In 1707 he published 210 of these original hymns in a book entitled, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In addition to his theological books, Isaac Watts published over 600 hymns in his lifetime. "Joy to the World" would not have become popular, though, without the contribution of two other important men. 

The first man, George Frederick Handel, was a German-born prodigy who had mastered the violin, oboe, harpsichord, and organ while studying law at the university. And all by the age of twelve! One year later, he decided to give up his legal studies to pursue music. In 1712, after he made his second trip to England, he decided to become an English citizen. 

The second composer was the American choir director and educator, Lowell Mason. It was a custom of his to search through previously published hymn texts to find material for his original melodies. Perhaps this is how he came upon Isaac Watt's interpretation of the ninety-eighth Psalm. In an effort to find a melody that conveyed the joyous message of the words, Mason turned to Handel's "Messiah." By taking musical phrases from different sections of the oratorio, Mason arranged them into a tune he called "Antioch." Matched to the words of Isaac Watts, Mason's uplifting melody was published for the first time in 1836. 


To all you blog readers, I wish you and your families a very merry Christmas!  

With much joy, love, and peace as we rejoice in our great Savior,

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Silent Night, Holy Night

Silent Night, Holy Night
By: Joseph Mohr

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child! 
Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace. 

Silent night, holy night, darkness flies, all is light; Shepherds hear the angels sing,
"Alleluia! hail the King! Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born." 

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love's pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light; With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King; Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born. 

In 1818, Joseph Mohr arrived in Oberndorf, Austria to take the position of assistant priest at the newly-erected Church of St. Nicholas. He soon made many friends among the local villagers. Franz Gruber, who was the village schoolmaster and church organist, was one of Joseph's favorite acquaintances. They spent much time together, discussing matters of mutual interest, such as education, music, and theology. As Christmas approached that year, the two men realized that no one had yet been able to compose the "perfect Christmas hymn."  Just before Christmas, a group of traveling players arrived in Oberndorf to present a nativity play in the local Catholic church. Since the organ at the Church of St. Nicholas was being repaired and the church could not be used for their performance, a local shop owner graciously opened his home to the players. On the evening of December twenty-third, Joseph Mohr attended the nativity play. As he traveled home after the performance, he stopped at his favorite spot that overlooked the small village of Oberndorf. Moved by the beauty of the night and inspired by the Christmas story, Joseph hurried home and wrote the words of "Silent Night, Holy Night." The next morning, Joseph took his stanzas to Franz Gruber and said, "See if you can wed these words to a melody." After reading the simple verses, Franz replied, "Friend Mohr, you have found it-the right song-God be praised." Since the organ was not going to be repaired in time for Christmas, Franz wrote the music for guitar. In the Christmas Eve service, Franz Gruber sang the bass and played the accompaniment on his guitar, Joseph Mohr sang the tenor part, and a choir of young ladies from the village sang the last two lines of each stanza in four-part harmony. Joseph and Franz had never intended for their Christmas carol to become famous. When Franz Gruber returned to his home in Zillertal, about eight miles away from Oberndorf, he took with him a copy of the song. Soon, it was being included in concerts through Austria and Germany, and was known as a Tyrolean Folk Song of unknown origin. 

"Silent Night" was first published for congregation singing in 1838 in the German hymnbook, Katholisches Gesang-und Gebetbuch für den offentlichen und häuslichen Gottesdienst zunächst zum Gebrauche der katholischen Gereinden im Königreiche Sachsen. (Catholic chant and prayer book for the public and domestic worship initially for the use of the Catholic gereinden the kingdoms of Saxony)
In 1839, "Silent Night, Holy Night" was first performed in the United States by a visiting group of Austrian singers. Before long, it was translated not only into English, but into several other languages as well.  It was used in America by German-speaking congregations, then appeared in its current English form in a book of Sunday school songs in 1863. "Silent Night, Holy Night" has become one of the best-loved Christmas carols of all time. 

I hope each one of you has a very merry Christmas!

Luke 2:10-14
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 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, good will toward men. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thankful Tuesday

Good morning, dear friends! 

Today is thankful Tuesday. Some things I'm thankful for today include:
*Cranberry Fluff

*the cold weather we've been blessed with

*the sister date Lauren, Deborah, and I took on Saturday night, looking at Christmas lights.

*a picnic with the family on Sunday afternoon after church 

 *a homemade shell candle

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. ~Psalm 100:4

What are you thankful for? 
Have you had cold weather at your house?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It Is Good to Give Thanks

Just recently, as I was reading the Psalms, a question popped into my head. Why is it good to give thanks or why should we give thanks? I think it can be easy to get into a habit of thanking God when we pray for meals. We thank Him for the food, for family, for the day, etc. And these are things I think we should be thankful for. But as I read more and started searching, I found many reasons for why we should be thankful.
We could be full of thanksgiving and praising God because:
  • He is worthy. 
  • He is good.
  • His mercy endureth for ever and ever.
  • He made the waters, heaven, light, and earth. John 1:3      Psalm. 136:5-9
  • His name alone is excellent. Psalm. 148:13
  • God is near to all those that call upon him. Psalm. 145:18
  • Jesus is Immanuel. He is with us every single minute, of every single hour, of every single day, no matter where we are in the world. 
  • He is wonderful! 
  • He is the Prince of Peace
  • The Lord Jehovah has done excellent things
  • Jesus has broken down the middle wall of perdition between the Jews and the Gentiles
  • God sent his son Jesus to be the propitiation for the whole world 
  • We have been justified by faith and now have peace with God through Jesus.  Romans 5:1
  • God loved us first, while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8
  • We don't live under the law anymore.
  • We live under grace!
  • We are no longer condemned. Christ has freed us from being servants to sin, and now are instead, servants of righteousness and God. Romans 6:20
  • Nothing can ever separate Christians from the love of God. Romans 8:39
  • God had mercy upon us all. Romans 11:32
  • Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  • Jesus is our mediator.
  • Christ suffered once for the sins of all men.
  • Christ was cursed for us. Galatians 3:13
  • God has blessed us so much more abundantly than we deserve.
  • Jesus reigns!
  • Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
May you all have a godly and Christ-filled week.

Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. ~Psalm 145:2-3