Singing from Advent to Epiphany
Christmas Carols - Part 2
Luke 2:15-18, Angels We Have Heard On High
Luke 1:46-55, There's a Song in the Air
Psalm 23, While Shepherd Watched Their Flocks
Isaiah 9:6-7, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (vs. 3)
More Songs for Advent through Epiphany
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Luke 2:15-18, Angels We Have Heard On High (12/10/2009)
Today's carol has the scripture, the whole scripture, and almost nothing but the scripture, except that the angels reportedly sang the chorus in Greek, not Latin.
Angels we have heard on high Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
Luke 1:46-55, There's a Song in the Air (12/11/2009)
And the mountains in reply Echoing their joyous strains.
Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be Which inspire your heavenly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing,
Come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
See him in a manger laid, Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, While our hearts in love we raise.
Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo.
I've read a commentary or two and footnotes that strongly imply that the Song of Mary wasn't Mary's song at all, but Hannah's song (1 Samuel 2: 1-10), repackaged by Luke to make Mary look good. Nah. In the first place, the two songs aren't all that much alike. While Mary makes quite a few scriptural allusions, only one is from the Song of Hannah, and that one could also refer to two other Old Testament passages. Most of the ideas Mary expresses permeate the scripture, so she may not have had any of these exact verses in mind. In the second place, if you read James and Jude, not to mention the Gospels, you will see that Jesus' whole family quoted scripture as naturally as they breathed. I suspect they learned this habit from their mother.
While we're on the topic of footnotes, wouldn't this be a great time to tell Santa that you want a good, modern translation of the Bible, one that has study notes and cross-references?
There's a song in the air! There's a star in the sky!
Psalm 23, While Shepherd Watched Their Flocks (12/16/2009)
There's a mother's deep prayer And a baby's low cry!
And the start rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
It is fitting that shepherds were the first people outside the immediate family to learn of Jesus' birth. The image of God as the shepherd of Israel is an ancient one, and the image of God's Messiah as a shepherd is common in Messianic prophecy. When Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd," his listeners knew he was asserting that he himself was the expected Messiah.
While shepherds watched their flocks by night, All seated on the ground,
Isaiah 9:6-7, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (vs. 3) (12/18/2009)
The angel of the Lord came down, And glory shown around.
"Fear not!" said he, for mighty dread Had seized their troubled mind,
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring To you and all mankind."
Could I just take a moment here to whine about politically correct hymnals? You know by now that I like the so-called "gender-neutral" translations of the Bible because in fact they represent the Hebrew and Greek more accurately (at least in this particular point). However, "Born to raise us from the
earth" is NOT
a gender-neutral version of "Born to raise the sons of
"Sons of earth" doesn't mean "people who live on the earth," as opposed to people who live somewhere else, like the moon. Instead, it means "people who think earthly thoughts and do earthly deeds," as opposed to people who have Godly thoughts and do Godly deeds.
When Jesus was born to raise the sons of
earth, he was born to give them birth into the Holy Spirit and thereby transform them from earthly people into Godly people. They will not be born again on another planet. NASA can raise us from the
earth to the moon, and even if someday people are born there, that won't guarantee them second birth. This particular change represents a vast change in the theology of today's hymn, not just an updating of the words, and I don't like it.
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
More Songs for Advent through Epiphany
Light and life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings,
Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.
6 For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom. (from the Jewish Publication Society Bible)
[Pele = Wonderful, joez = Counsellor, el-gibbor = The mighty God, Abi-ad = The everlasting Father, sar-shalom = The Prince of Peace]
Christmas Carols - Part 1
Christmas Carols - Part 3
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