Category Archives: Songs on Monthly Theme

12 Days of Christmas Carols- Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming

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This is my favorite Christmas song, and I thought our readers would enjoy reading about its’ origins I did!. In our hymnal, The Ambassador, it is reworded and titled, “Behold a Branch is Growing” in order to emphasize Jesus rather than Mary.   Still waiting for others to send the Lutheran Ladies some Christmas carols that touch their hearts!

Wedgewords

rosa“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” is a German hymn first printed in 1582.  Written anonymously under the title “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,” this song originally had about 19 stanzas.  As we’ve seen, those Germans really love their long songs.  In 1599 they even bumped it up to 23, but these days it’s usually trimmed down to 5 or 6.  A lot of hands have been involved in the transmission and translation of the words to the hymn.  In the 19th cent., Theodore Baker gave us the first two stanzas in English, translating from the German original.  Friedrich Layritz wrote two more stanzas around the same time, and these have been translated by Harriett R. Spaeth.  John C Mattes added another stanza in 1914.  Catherine Winkworth even got involved by translating a variant version of the hymn.  There were so many different options because of all those earlier stanzas…

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The Musical Holiday

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Christmas seems to me, at least, to be the most musical of all the church holidays.  Many Lutherans, like my granddaughter Katelyn, love to hear “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” every Sunday in Advent.  Others like my friend, Becky, especially enjoy our congregation’s tradition of singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve as the church is darkened and we pass the light of Christ down each pew, lighting individual candles one by one. One year some members played “Silent Night” on guitars, as it was originally done.  Often on the Sunday after Christmas, our church has a time during the service when members call our their favorite carols and we sing a verse or two of each one.

I’ve mentioned some musical traditions my immediate family developed over the years — playing “The Nutcracker” as we trimmed the tree, going to a yearly performance of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” at a local church, and to hear “The Messiah” at a nearby college.

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Maybe it’s the joy of the season that makes us want to sing and listen to special Christmas music and carols. Music lifts up our hearts.  It connects us to our past and our childhood.  It teaches us. Everyone has a favorite.  What’s yours?  Why do you love it?  I’d like to hear from other readers and authors about the musical traditions of their churches and families.

Amahl and the Night Visitors

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This one act opera was written specifically for TV in 1951 and was the first Christmas special to be shown annually.  My husband and I remembered it from our youth and were eager to see it with our children years ago when a local church began staging it yearly.  Children love it — it has funny moments, beautiful costumes and a main character (Amahl, the little shepherd boy) with whom they can identify.  I thought I’d include one of the songs here on the blog.

Rest Along the Weary Road

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This article was originally published in The Lutheran Ambassador, a publication of the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches).

Have you ever read a portion of Scripture and found a certain verse or phrase jumping out at you, striking you in a completely new way?  Or listened to a sermon when the Pastor said something that seemed meant just for you and your current situation?  Or had a hymn run through your mind over and over again?

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I think most of us have had that sort of experience, and when we do, we should pay attention.  The Holy Spirit may be nudging us to a deeper understanding, encouraging us with a word of comfort, or empowering us to take action.  Here’s a time that happened to me.

At our church during the Christmas season we always have a service when members have a chance to call out their favorite carols and the congregation sings a verse or two of each one.  As we sang “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” one year, I was suddenly and powerfully struck by the words, “rest along the weary road and hear the angels sing.”  Wow, I thought, that’s what Christmas should be about.  Nobody can deny that life is a weary road.  The Bible tells us that “man …is few of days and full of trouble”(Job 14:1), and that we can expect to experience trials and suffering (John 16:33).  All we have to do is look around our congregation to see people mourning the loss of loved ones, others who have lost their jobs, members in difficult relationships, or suffering from illness.  Christmas is a time to stop, to rest from all that, to remember the day God broke into our human lives with a precious gift, His own son, Jesus, to die for our sins.

Those of us in church know this.  The youngest child can tell you that Christmas is the birthday of baby Jesus, and the most theologically sophisticated use a big word to describe it, the “incarnation.”  But what is Christmas really about for most of us?  Far too often, Christmas becomes a time of frantic busyness instead of rest.  We have gifts to buy and wrap, cookies to bake, cards to send, people to entertain, parties to attend, a home and church to be decorated, more evenings out as we practice special music or a Christmas pageant.  We stress over whether our presents, our hospitality and our appearance have made the grade.  Maybe we spend more money than we should.  Then when Christmas Eve arrives, we’re too tired out to really appreciate it.  It’s just one more task to get through on the way to the conclusion of the season, when we can sigh and say, “Thank goodness I got everything done.”

None of the things we normally do around Christmas are bad.  Giving of ourselves in various ways, getting together with family and friends, spending some extra time at church, or singing Christmas carols, are all good things, especially if we do them in remembrance and thanks for God’s great gift to us.  But if, like Martha, we become “anxious and troubled about many things”  and miss “the one thing (that is ) necessary (Luke 10:41-42), we’ve lost the gift Christ wanted us to have.  Jesus Himself said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)  This year, I’m going to try to be more like the shepherds.  I’ll think of Christmas as a time to take a break instead of a time to get a million things done–a time to eave the worries about my life behind and stop to worship the baby King, a time to rest along the weary road and listen to the angels.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner #2

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Since I blogged about table prayers on a previous post, I thought I would include this prayer we sing before meals at our Vineyard Via de Cristo retreat weekends.  Once again, we are inviting Jesus to take part in the meal with us.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

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Have you ever noticed that in many of our commonly used table prayers, we invite Jesus to come and sit at the table with us?  These are prayers we’ve heard from youth, and we recite them by rote, from memory, not really thinking about what we’re saying.  Maybe we should remember to stop and pay attention.  If Christ were our guest, how would we behave?  Wouldn’t we be honored and grateful?  Would we sit up straighter? Mind our manners? Would we watch out language (and maybe even our thoughts)?  Wouldn’t our attention be on Jesus, instead of the cooking?  Would we think about our behavior that day and whether our actions had been worthy of our Lord?  Maybe we’d have some things to apologize for.

Especially in this season of Thanksgiving, let’s make sure our words match our behavior.  Let’s think about WHO we’re inviting and behave as if we mean what we say.  Jesus is not only a guest at our dinner table, He’s the real Host.  He’s given us everything we have, and is present with us constantly.  He doesn’t leave us or forsake us, but sometimes we forget Him.

Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  Luke 7:36

Jesus didn’t mind eating with Pharisees or sinners.  He’ll sit at your table, too.

This is the Feast #2

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For those who are unfamiliar with this canticle which I mentioned in my last post, I thought I would post the music with lyrics.

Open My Eyes #2

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This song has been on my mind since my post on opening our eyes.

Servant Relationships

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This song has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It reminds me of a quote from one of Martin Luther’s  earlier books, The Freedom of a Christian (1520). In it, he wrote,

“[A]s our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another “

Gather Us In

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The song Michele posted, reminded me of this one, also about our relationship with Jesus and the church.