Singing from Advent to Epiphany
Lamentations 1:3-7; Isaiah 43:3-7, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Isaiah 40:1-5, Comfort Ye/Every Valley – Messiah
1 John 4:7-19, Of the Father's Love Begotten
Luke 2:25-32, Come, Thou Long-Expected
Isaiah 9:2-7, People That Walked in Darkness/Messiah
Isaiah 61:1-4, Hail to the Lord's Anointed
Psalm 24, Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
More Songs for Advent through Epiphany
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Lamentations 1:3-7; Isaiah 43:3-7, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (11/23/2009)
The songs written while the Jews were in exile in Babylon were sad ones (e.g., Psalm 137 and today's reading from Lamentations). "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" – with its lyrics and music so evocative of loneliness and longing for the Messiah – would have fit in perfectly, if it had been written about 1800 years earlier. Nevertheless, God's people are called to rejoice in the promise of God's redemption, even when it seems far away.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
Isaiah 40:1-5, Comfort Ye/Every Valley – Messiah (11/24/2009)
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
I've already had so many positive responses to our hymn/carol/song study that I have to tell you that this great idea came from fellow-reader Terri L. Thanks, Terri!
If you've ever traveled on highways in hills or mountains, you've seen "cuts and fills." The cuts take off the high places, and the fills raise the low places, making a smoother highway for travelers. I read in a commentary that when ancient Near-Eastern potentates wanted to travel, they sent people ahead to get work crews to improve the roads, using a similar system. The prophet Isaiah said that when the LORD comes, the greatest potentate of them all, every mountain and hill will be leveled and every valley filled to make a straight highway for God.
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
1 John 4:7-19, Of the Father's Love Begotten (11/25/2009)
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her,
that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low,
the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.
In spite of all the advertising hoorah that's going on, it isn't Christmas yet. It isn't even Advent yet, and Advent lasts for three to four weeks before Christmas – the four Sundays of Advent and the three weeks between them, plus however many days from then until Christmas. So if Christmas falls on a Monday, you get three weeks of Advent, and if on Sunday, four weeks. Advent is the time we use to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. God, however, was preparing for a lot longer than that.
Of the Father's love begotten,
Luke 2:25-32, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (11/26/2009)
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending he;
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore.
"The Consolation of Israel" was apparently a common Jewish term for the Messiah, probably stemming from Isaiah 12:1 and 49:13, both of which use the Hebrew word nacham comfort
. This is the same word used in our previous scripture, "Comfort ye my people, saith our God." Simeon was waiting for the Consolation of Israel, the Messiah. Nacham
is normally translated in the Greek Old Testament with parakaleo comfort, advocate,
In John 14:15, Jesus tells his disciples that "another Comforter" is coming, and he uses the noun form of the word, "Paraclete."
Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
Isaiah 9:2-7, People That Walked in Darkness/Messiah (11/27/2009)
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.
Did you know that George Frideric Handel wrote the music for "Messiah" in 24 days in the summer of 1741? Did you know that he didn't write the libretto? Obviously fellow-reader Matt G. knew this already, but I was surprised to learn a few days ago that the libretto was written not by Handel but by Charles Jennens. Strictly speaking, Jennens didn't write it either; he just selected pieces from the prophets Isaiah, Haggai, Malachi, and Zechariah; from Psalms, Job, and Lamentations; and from the New Testament books of Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, and Revelation, all as translated in the King James Version.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
Isaiah 61:1-4, Hail to the Lord's Anointed (11/30/2009)
And they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them hath the light shined.
"The Lord's Anointed" is used in the Old Testament in two ways. By far the most common is that David routinely applied this title to King Saul; a few times it's clearly used to refer to another specific or generic king of Israel or Judah. "The Lord's Anointed" is also a title for the Messiah, which is how today's Advent hymn and our scripture reading are using it.
Hail to the Lord's Anointed, Great David's greater Son!
Psalm 24, Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates (12/1/2009)
Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free;
To take away transgression, And rule in equity.
He comes with succor speedy To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, And bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, Their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, Are precious in his sight.
Back in the old days, any self-respecting city had walls. (Or huge standing armies, one or the other.) Walls protected you from invading armies and sometimes even from wild animals like lions and wolves. However, if you had walls, you also needed gates, which are mentioned several hundred times in the Old Testament. Gates were just as important as walls, because if the wall was at all adequate, the only way to get in and out was through the gates. Business was conducted at the city gate, and the gate was often used figuratively to represent the entire city. Sometimes, as in today's hymn and reading, the gates are personified. Heads up! Somebody important is coming, and we have to look sharp!
Messiah fans will also recognize this text.
Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
More Songs for Advent through Epiphany
Behold, the King of glory waits;
The King of kings is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here!
Christmas Carols - Part 1
Christmas Carols - Part 2
Christmas Carols - Part 3
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