Monday, December 10, 2018

The Music of Advent – Part 2

The Music of Advent – Part 2                                    

From the Judean wilderness one could hear the cries of John the Baptist, “… Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. … Prepare the way of the LORD …” (Matthew 3:2-3). 
Internet Photo
Whether from curiosity or a yearning heart, crowds gathered to see and hear this unusual man, clothed in camel’s hair and known to eat locust and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). John was Jesus’ own cousin and the one Isaiah prophesied of as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3: Matthew 3:3). 

This John is the baptizer the hymn writer, Charles Coffin, is speaking of, announcing “that the Lord is nigh. Awake and harken, for he brings glad tidings of the King of kings!”*

Coffin, (1676-1749), rector of the University of Paris, wrote many hymns and poems, mostly in Latin. “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” was translated into English between 1837 and 1841 by John Chandler, one of the most successful translators of the day.

Be blessed as you read the lyrics and listen to this old hymn:  

On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh.
Awake and harken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings!

2 Then cleansed be every life from sin:
make straight the way for God within,
and let us all our hearts prepare
for Christ to come and enter there.

3 We hail you as our Savior, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward.
Without your grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.

4 Stretch forth your hand, our health restore,
and make us rise to fall no more.
O let your face upon us shine
and fill the world with love divine.

5 All praise to you, eternal Son,
whose advent has our freedom won,
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Spirit, evermore.
(Public Domain)

Enjoy listening on YouTube:
In the comment section, below, please tell us your favorite Advent hymn and special memories or traditions you enjoy.
May God richly bless you during this glorious season.
©Copyright 2018 Connie Wohlford

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Music of Advent – Part 1

The Music of Advent – Part 1

What thoughts and images come into your mind when you think of Advent?

If you grew up in church, perhaps you think of candles. You might imagine a dimly let sanctuary, soft music playing, and an Advent wreath centered near the alter or on the platform. This describes the image I see in my mind’s eye. Certainly, candles are fitting as we await the coming of the Light of the world who will dispel darkness.  

During the season of Advent, which begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas, our hearts begin to stir with contemplation and quiet expectation.
The sacred music of Advent contributes to the intensity of our thoughts and feelings. Close your eyes and think of a favorite advent hymn. These melodies point us to the arrival of our Messiah and the emergence of His Eternal Kingdom. 
From Joy Comes to Bethlehem by Connie Wohlford
When we allow ourselves to pull away from the materialistic frenzy of the holiday season, we can come into a place of reverent awe of what God is doing on planet Earth. In these times we live in, it takes a conscious effort to focus on the true reason for the season. 

On these four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day, I want to look at four hymns of Advent. I admit that some of them I was not familiar with because I did not grow up in a highly liturgical denomination. In my blog research, I’m developing a deeper understanding of the anticipation of the coming Christ as celebrated through the ages. 

We’ll look at the lyrics and contemplate their meanings as well a snippet of historical background of each.

First, consider one I know well and, in fact, it’s my favorite Christmas hymn—“O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  

Some scholars say this ancient hymn dates back to the twelfth century. But others attribute it to a community of fifth century Jewish followers of Yeshua (Jesus). It is believed to have been used as part of their Hanukkah celebrations.

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is often included in the service of first Sunday of Advent. As you read these lyrics, below, consider the centuries of anticipation for the Israelites, awaiting their Deliverer. They, and we, need wait no more for our Deliverer has come. 

Ponder these lyrics, then listen to a beautiful rendition on YouTube.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
1 O come, O come, Emmanuel,  
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
2 O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go. [Refrain]
3 O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. [Refrain]
4 O come, thou branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto thine own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave. [Refrain]
5 O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. [Refrain]
6 O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadows put to flight. [Refrain]
7 O come, desire of nations, bind
all peoples in one heart and mind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of peace. [Refrain]
(Public Domain)
[Scripture references: Stanza 1- Is. 7:14; Matt 1:23.  Stanza 2- Is. 11:2; 1 Cor. 1:30.  Stanza 3- Ex. 19:16-20; Deut. 10:17; 1 Tim. 6:15.  Stanza 4- Is 11:1, 10; Rom. 15:12.  Stanza 5- Is. 22:22; Rev. 3:7. Stanza  6- Num. 24:17; Rev. 22:16.  Stanza 7- Jeremiah 10:7; Rev. 15:4.]* *  
Here’s a link to listen to this beautiful centuries-old hymn. Do hear it and experience its wonder.
Please share your thoughts about the Advent season and specifically this hymn in the comment section. Thanks so much for visiting my blog.  

I pray you have a wonder-filled Advent Season and a Jesus-filled Christmas. 

©Copyright 2018 Connie Wohlford

Sunday, November 25, 2018

"The True Miracle of Thanksgiving"

"The True Miracle of Thanksgiving"             

Do you know about Squanto, a Patuxet brave? Are you aware of the calamity and victory he experienced leading up to the first Thanksgiving?

As we in the United States prepare for Thanksgiving this week I’m reminded of the true story of Squanto along with Proverbs 16:9, which says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” This passage can certainly be applied to young Squanto.

I want to share some of Squanto’s experience with the help of a book and a few of its wonderful illustrations by Shannon Stirnweis. The book is, The True Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Mataxas. 

This book is categorized for children but the story is so good and the art so excellent I want you to have a chance to see. I recently read it to a small group of adults and they loved it.

Book Description: Every once in a great while, the hand of God is easy to see, and so it was with a lonely Patuxet brave and a struggling band of Pilgrims.
In 1608, a 12-year-old boy named Squanto was captured in America and taken to Spain as a slave. With the help of Spanish monks who taught him about God, Squanto make his way to England and finally back to his homeland.
Squanto arrived to find an empty village—a deadly virus had wiped out his entire tribe. In their place, a small group of struggling Pilgrims settled and called their new community Plymouth.
Because of his time with the monks and in England, Squanto could communicate with the Pilgrims and knew about God. Soon he became their valuable guide and true friend. 


"Hallelujah! Who but the glorious God of heaven could so miraculously weave together the wondering lives of a lonely Patuxet brave and a struggling band of English Pilgrims in such a way that would bless the whole world for centuries to come?"

Chuck Colson, about this book: “The only thing more amazing than this true story from American history is the fact that so few people have ever heard it. I’m glad to know that my colleague, Eric Metaxas, has written this wonderful book.”

This post shows just a few of the pages from Mataxas' book. Hopefully you get the gist of the story.

Happy Thanksgiving!

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford