Peter Wehner: ” Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican .”

Peter Wehner, former President George W. Bush’s speech writer and senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, opined in the New York Times on Sunday, ” Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican.”

I don’t know Peter Wehner.

But it’s strange; I would have thought that the final straw for evangelical Wehner might have been his boss, President George W. Bush in England in 2003, equating Jehovah and false god Allah as the same God:

EXHIBIT A

Q Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. President, when you talk about peace in the Middle East, you’ve often said that freedom is granted by the Almighty. Some people who share your beliefs don’t believe that Muslims worship the same Almighty. I wonder about your views on that.

And, Mr. Prime Minister, as a man also of faith, I’d like to get your reaction to that.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I do say that freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every person. I also condition it by saying freedom is not America’s gift to the world. It’s much greater than that, of course. And I believe we worship the same God . (11/20/03)

EXHIBIT B

Or as if that weren’t enough, Laura Bush’s deceit and hypocrisy from 2000-2008 — keeping quiet through two presidential campaigns so her husband could be elected and reelected; and misrepresenting her position on same-sex marriage and abortion:

First Lady Supportive of Gay Rights and Abortion Rights — not Michelle Obama, but Laura Bush!

EXHIBIT C

Or Ken Mehlman — former White House Political Director, former Bush/Cheney 2004 Campaign Manager, and former RNC Chairman 2005-2007 — who paraded himself (once he left Washington, DC) as homosexual and led the amicus brief advocating homosexual marriage, in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case, before the Supreme Court in 2015.

Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman framed the BUSH/CHENEY 2004 reelect on “Family Values” as they placed same-sex marriage bans on the ballots in AR, GA, KY, MI, MS, MT, ND, OH, OK, OR, and UT.

Following the Bush 43′ reelection victory we learned that the showcasing of “moral virtue” by the BUSH/CHENEY 04′ campaign was a ruse. Machiavellian to the core, “Political expediency placed above morality and the use of craft and deceit to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee led the Arkansas initiative. He emailed me following the 2004 charade:

“Looking back, we all now know we were played for chumps as we led sincere efforts to pass Constitutional amendments in our states (I led one in 2004 that won by 70%), only to now realize that those running the White House didn’t respect or even agree with the principles involved – just knew it would drive voters to the polls and help turnout and win.”

EXHIBIT D

Or Cindy McCain advocating for homosexual marriage in 2010, after her husband was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Why didn’t she say this when her husband was campaigning for President in 2007-2008?

You see the pattern here, one thing they all have in common — like candidate Barack Hussein Obama at the Saddleback Presidential Debate in 2008 — deceit, so as to be elected:

Obama: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian-for me-for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

Warren: “Forty million abortions, at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”

Obama: “Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.”

It speaks to character: veracity — “habitual truthfulness”.

As to Peter Wehner, a “NeverTrumper”, he has become so obsessed with Donald Trump that, like a drunk, it has impaired his vision. Wehner cannot see the real crisis, which would be there even if Trump wasn’t, and that’s the reason the New York Times accords him that perch, as a ” dupe of Secularism.”

There is good news; Gideons and Rahabs are beginning to stand.

David Lane
American Renewal Project

 

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Rev. Graham: Trump Has Done More for Christianity Than Any Recent President

In a Facebook post praising President Donald Trump for his remarks at the lighting of the national Christmas tree last week, Rev. Franklin Graham said that Trump had gone above and beyond the call of duty in being a voice and a warrior for people of faith.
“Never in my lifetime have we had a president willing to take a strong, outspoken stand for the Christian faith like President Donald J. Trump has,” Graham wrote. “Whether you are Protestant, evangelical, Orthodox, Catholic – all Christians need to get behind him with our prayers.”
Trump raised eyebrows with an unapologetically Christian-themed speech at the tree lighting – a marked change from the irreligious themes that were a favorite of former President Barack Obama. “For Christians this is a holy season, the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Trump said. “The Christmas story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all – the gift of God’s love for all of humanity.
“Whatever our beliefs we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of this incredible life forever changed the course of human history,” he continued. “There’s hardly an aspect of our lives today that His life has not touched – art, music, culture, law and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person, everywhere in the world.”

To American Christians who have watched their faith in Jesus turn into a near-anachronism in today’s increasingly-multicultural liberal landscape, it is unimaginably refreshing to hear a U.S. president forgo the niceties and get right to the meat of the matter. A blatantly religious speech at the start of a religious holiday doesn’t necessarily change the culture overnight, but it does bring the power of the bully pulpit back where it belongs. Instead of constantly criticizing and apologizing for Christianity, the way Obama did, Trump has dispensed with the political correctness in his recognition of this country’s founding faith.
Donald Trump is hardly an icon for the “Christian life,” but there’s a reason why so many evangelicals – both prominent and rank-and-file – see him as their last, best hope to turn America around. His steadfast unwillingness to buckle under the pressure of the mainstream, liberal culture makes him impervious to the crashing waves of multiculturalism that felled so many previous conservatives. He doesn’t pretend to be holier than thou, and it is in his willingness to get down and dirty – to fight it out to the death – that he has become one of American Christianity’s greatest modern champions.

Fix This Nation .com

********************************************

The aforementioned article by Franklin Graham is profoundly true.  All Christians are amazed at Trump’s boldly proponing the Christian faith, and his support of the nation of Israel.  I consider it to be a miracle that he was elected in the first place, and am truly humbled by what he has accomplished in his first ten months in office.  His policies seem very pro American, so I am very surprised how much the mainstream media, Democrats, many Republicans, and many other people groups truly despise everything he stands for!  Given the bizarre world view of so many liberals and millennials, I do not expect this window to be open very long, whereas we are blessed with a president who holds the Judeo Christian ethic in high regard.  I honestly hope that I am wrong.  Pray for President Donald Trump and for those who will succeed him as president.  I fear if extreme liberals become elected one more time, we will never get our nation back.  Praise the Lord for this president and pray fervently for him and for all that he stands for.  In Christ, Pastor Steve  <><

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Go Tell It On The Mountain”
December 09 2017
Written by: Prophecy in the News

songmusic

When something really fantastic happens, what is the first thing you want to do?
Tell someone, of course!
The spiritual, “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” does just that.

The Negro spiritual was created out of need for expression and communication. It was used by slaves to relay coded messages concerning directions for escapes without the knowledge of plantation masters. Many times these coded messages used biblical names and terms to relate their meaning. Harriet Tubman, the great conductor of the Underground Railroad, was known as General Moses. The words “seeker” and “watchman” in “Go Tell It on the Mountain” most likely refer to an escaping slave seeking freedom and the plantation overseer respectively. Another spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd” refers to the north star of the constellation Big Dipper as the direction to follow to find freedom in the North. The slaves could sing these songs without notice from the white plantation owners and overseers.

slaves-on-plantation

The spiritual was also a means of expression. The bondage of slavery was hard to bear. Some of the spiritual songs of the black man were centered on the biblical stories of the Hebrews (who were in slavery in Egypt) and Moses (their Deliverer). Death was viewed as an escape from this bondage, so likewise should be taken that there are few spirituals about the nativity or the birth of Jesus. It is suggested that this may be a result of the slaves’ hope in an Almighty God, a Deliverer, and an all-powerful Deity who could lead them to the promised land of freedom rather than a vulnerable infant.
Spirituals were first noted in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. During this time, white evangelists introduced to the imported slaves the concept of Christianity using many of the songs of the white church to teach biblical stories. The slaves, with their African roots, tempered the songs to create a new genre. The African influence of syncopation and pentatonic melodies were matched with white harmonies and lyrics to create a new and distinct concept. The songs were passed orally by generations, with each generation modifying the songs. There appears to be little written documentation of the music of the Negro until the late nineteenth century.

fisk-university

Fisk University, created after the Civil War in 1866 in Nashville, Tennessee, in a former Union fort, was established for the education of emancipated slaves.

In October of 1871, the Fisk Singers were organized in an effort to raise funds for the new school, which was quickly falling into disrepair on limited funds. At first, the singers sang standard and classical selections, without much success. As former slaves or children of slaves, they were well acquainted with spirituals, cabin songs, plantation songs and Jubilee songs, which were composed for religious reasons. These songs were sung among the Singers themselves but were not shared in their concerts. After mediocre acceptance and likewise monetary offerings, the group began to include a few of these songs in their repertoire.   the-fisk-jubilee-singers

Ella Shepherd, a member of the Singers, was a group’s assistant director and a great resource for these songs of the slaves, which had been passed to her by her mother.

ella-shepherd

George Leonard White, the group’s director, took note of the response of the audience whenever a spiritual was sung. The quietness of the audience, the tears that appeared, and the applause that followed convinced him that the Negro spiritual was the Singers vehicle to fame and acceptance. At first, the members were reluctant to perform what were considered personal and intimate songs of george-leonard-whitetheir faith and their people, learned behind closed doors of slavery from parents and grandparents. At a concert held at Oberlin College in Ohio, the group included the spiritual “Steal Away.” All talking ceased and soft weeping could be heard as the ensemble, being moved to tears themselves, voiced the musical renderings of their hearts. The audience was amazed. Word spread from the congregation. Letters and telegrams were sent out from the listeners urging churches and other towns to invite the singers.

This musical triumph encouraged White to add more spirituals to the performances. He also named the singers the “Jubilee” Singers. After prayer and inspiration, he felt the singers should take their name from the Bible. In Jewish custom, in the fiftieth year, slaves were set free and debts were forgiven as documented in Leviticus 25. From then on, the group was known as the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  the-fisk-jubilee-singers

In December 1871, the group sang for the weekly prayer meeting at the Plymouth Church of Brooklyn, which included some of the most influential families in henry-ward-beecherAmerica and was pastured by the famous Henry Ward Beecher. The new repertoire was on the line. It was make or break time, both musically and financially, for the weary group. Unless a substantial offering was received here, the group would not have funds to return home to Nashville. As the rich dark tones of the students’ voices sang out, the congregation grew still. At the concert’s conclusion, Beecher jumped to his feet with $5 in his hand. He encouraged all his members to follow suit and support these students. After that night, everyone wanted to have the Jubilee Singers to perform for them.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers toured the world, singing at such venues as the White House for President Ulysses S. Grant and for Queen Victoria in England. They continued across Europe singing in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. In Scotland and Ireland, their individual and collective tales of rising from slavery were written in books that sold out to adoring fans. They found themselves performing for heads of state and dignitaries in some of the world’s most famous concert halls. However, their fame was marred with incidents of hostility against their race, especially in their own country. After performing for the President at the White House, they were thrown out of their hotel because of their race. The group raised over $150,000 for Fisk University and introduced to the world the sacred hymns and songs of their ancestors.

folk-songs-photo

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, John W. Work, Jr. and his brother Frederick J. Work, began collecting and promoting the spirituals of slavery. The song, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” was published in the Brothers’ book Folk Songs of the American Negro. In this publication, the song was arranged in anthem style with verses and refrain, making it more easily accessible to the average singer. The song gained popularity because of its energetic and enthusiastic message. It had been popularized by the Fisk Singers but was not written and arranged until it appeared in this book.

religious-folk-songsIt also appeared in Thomas Fenner’s book, Religious Folk Songs of the Negro, As Sung on the Plantations, in 1909. The song was also published in a sequel collection by the Work brothers in 1915. Son John W. Work III continued the legacy started by his father and uncle by uncovering the saving spirituals and publishing them in his book American Negro Songs and Spirituals in 1940. He traveled hundreds of miles collecting songs from former slaves, transcribing them and preserving them for future generation.

mahalia-jackson

Noted vocalist Mahalia Jackson was one of the first to record the song. She made the song famous with her rendition. Jackson was the bridge from slavery to recognition with what was termed as an African-American voice as supposed to the voice of a slave. The song, deeply rooted in the black church, is now popular in all religious venues. The song is one of proclamation, excitingly declaring the glorious Christmas story from the mountain top and even further, “over the hills and everywhere.” It is a song of hope revealed. It is a declaration prompted by the arrival of the “Deliverer” who came from heaven’s lofty realms to a lowly manger to provide redemption for a needy and desperate people. What other motivation is needed to sing from the mountains than “Jesus Christ is born!”?
In 2004, William Studwell, noted musicologist and one of the world’s foremost experts on Christmas carols, named the spiritual “Carol of the Year” for 2004.

Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!
When I was a seeker
I sought both night and day;
I ask the Lord to help me
And He show me the way.
Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!
He made me a watchman
Upon a city wall,
And if I am a Christian
I am the least of all.
Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!
Source: “Songs of Christmas” and the stories behind them – by Tommy and Renee Pierce
(Copyright 2008)

By Prophecy in the News| December 9th, 2017|Tags: Carol, Christmas, Jesus Christ, Mountain, Negro Spiritual, Slavery

Christmas at MacPherson

Our Daily Bread

Read: Luke 1:68–75 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 47–48; 1 John 3  Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. Luke 1:68
About 230 families and individuals live at MacPherson Gardens, Block 72 in my neighborhood. Each person has his or her own life story. On the tenth floor resides an elderly woman whose children have grown up, gotten married, and moved out. She lives by herself now. Just a few doors away from her is a young couple with two kids—a boy and a girl. And a few floors below lives a young man serving in the army. He has been to church before; maybe he will visit again on Christmas Day. I met these people last Christmas when our church went caroling in the neighborhood to spread Christmas cheer.
Every Christmas—as on the first Christmas—there are many people who do not know that God has entered into our world as a baby whose name is Jesus (Luke 1:68; 2:21). Or they do not know the significance of that event—it is “good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (2:10). Yes, all people! Regardless of our nationality, culture, gender, or financial status, Jesus came to die for us and offer us complete forgiveness so that we can be reconciled with Him and enjoy His love, joy, peace, and hope. All people, from the woman next door to the colleagues we have lunch with, need to hear this wonderful news!
The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.
On the first Christmas, the angels were the bearers of this joyous news. Today, God desires to work through us to take the story to others.
Lord, use me to touch the lives of others with the news of Your coming.

The good news of Jesus’s birth is a source of joy for all people.
By Poh Fang Chia | See Other Authors

INSIGHT
One of the great themes of Luke’s gospel record is that it continually affirms that the message of Jesus’s death and resurrection is for everyone—not just for Israel. Today’s devotional declares that Christ’s coming would “cause great joy for all the people” (2:10). This important message continues later in this chapter when Simeon says that salvation is prepared in the “sight of all nations” and that Israel’s Messiah is both “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (vv. 30–32). At the conclusion of Luke’s account, the risen Christ tells the two disciples on the Emmaus road that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (24:47). This message was not intended for Israel alone, nor are we to keep it to ourselves. The entire world is the object of God’s love.
For more on sharing your faith, see the Discovery Series booklet Truth with Love: Sharing the Story of Jesus.
Bill Crowder

Our Daily Bread Topics: Christ Jesus Birth Savior & Messiah
Tags: Christmas, hope, Jesus’ birth, joy

 

Advent: Jesus Is Coming, and This Time It’s Different

 

News Image

TV commercials, radio stations, and shopping malls are all proclaiming that it’s the Christmas season! But actually, it isn’t.

Last Sunday, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, in churches all around the world, the Gospel reading was Matthew 25:31-46.

The passage opens with words that should make our hearts soar, or, perhaps, shiver with dread: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

As the passage makes clear, Christ’s second coming will be very different from his first. He will return in glory, not obscurity. He will return as the King of the Universe, not as a nobody in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire. And this time, He will do the judging.

This, and not shopping, or who saw whom kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe, is what we’re supposed to be thinking about these next four weeks, the season known as Advent.

Now if you’re wondering, “Wait, isn’t this the Christmas season?” the answer is, well, “no.” Of course, we wouldn’t know that from watching television, where some networks have been running “Christmas” movies–none of which ever mention Jesus–since late October.

Beginning Sunday, December 3rd through Christmas Eve, many Christian traditions celebrate the season of Advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “come to.” Thus, Advent is the season Christians anticipate the celebration of God’s coming to live and die as one of us. And to better appreciate the immensity of that gift, we are to put ourselves in the place of ancient Israel which yearned for the promised Messiah who would set things right.

One of the ways to do this is through hymns. The ancient Advent carol “Creator of the Stars of Night,” which dates from the 7th century, expresses this Old Testament yearning in a way that has literally stood the test of time.

“Thou, grieving that the ancient curse/ Should doom to death a universe/ Hast found the medicine, full of grace/ To save and heal a ruined race,” the hymn reads.

The “medicine” required to “save and heal a ruined race” was Jesus, as Paul told the Philippians, emptying himself and becoming obedient to death.

But that’s not the entire story. We also sing “At Whose dread Name, majestic now/ All knees must bend, all hearts must bow/ And things celestial Thee shall own/ And things terrestrial, Lord alone.”

That’s because Advent is not only a time of anticipating Christ’s first coming but also anticipating the next and final time Jesus comes to Earth. And, I repeat, this coming will be very different from the first: The same Jesus who was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus will return as the “judge of the living and the dead,” and “his kingdom will have no end.”

This makes Advent not only a time of reflection, but also a time of repentance. This season is a time to examine our lives and ask ourselves whether we are sheep or goats. Are we living, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, for ourselves or for Him who died for us and rose again?

Originally published at Breakpoint.org – reposted with permission.

Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=1820#coLiACRIRS72FjLw.99

 

WAITING For Christmas ~ WAITING For Christ’s First Coming ~ WAITING For His Second Coming

Our Daily Bread

Read: Micah 5:2–4
Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 45–46; 1 John 2

Bethlehem . . . out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.—Micah 5:2
“How much longer until it’s Christmas?” When my children were little, they asked this question repeatedly. Although we used a daily Advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas, they still found the waiting excruciating.
We can easily recognize a child’s struggle with waiting, but we might underestimate the challenge it can involve for all of God’s people. Consider, for instance, those who received the message of the prophet Micah, who promised that out of Bethlehem would come a “ruler over Israel” (5:2) who would “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord” (v. 4). The initial fulfillment of this prophecy came when Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:1) —after the people had waited some 700 years. But some of the prophecy’s fulfillment is yet to come. For we wait in hope for the return of Jesus, when all of God’s people will “live securely” and “his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth” (Mic. 5:4). Then we will rejoice greatly, for our long wait will be over.
Most of us don’t find waiting easy, but we can trust that God will honor His promises to be with us as we wait (Matt. 28:20). For when Jesus was born in little Bethlehem, He ushered in life in all its fullness (see John 10:10)—life without condemnation. We enjoy His presence with us today while we eagerly wait for His return. —Amy Boucher Pye

We wait, Father God, and we hope. We wait, dear Jesus, as we long for peace to break out. We wait, comforting Spirit, for all the world to experience Your love.
We wait for God’s promises, believing they will come true.

INSIGHT: Christ’s second coming is also the theme of several New Testament passages. As Christ ascended into heaven, the angels told His disciples that Christ “will come back in the same way” they saw Him go (Acts 1:11). Jesus said His return would be unannounced and could occur at any moment; therefore, we are to “Be on guard! Be alert!” (Mark 13:33-37). The early Christians believed that Jesus’s return was “almost here” (Rom. 13:11-14). The apostle James encouraged believers to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:8; see also Rev. 1:3). The anticipation that Jesus could come any moment led some Christians in Thessalonica to become idle, quitting their jobs and waiting for Him to return. But Paul told them to get back to work and live meaningful lives (2 Thess. 3:11-13).
“While we [patiently] wait for the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)—that wonderful day of Jesus’s return—we can ask the Spirit to help us to live “holy and godly lives . . . spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:11, 14).
In what ways can you enjoy God’s presence today as you wait for Jesus’s return?    Sim Kay Tee

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “JOY TO THE WORLD!”

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “JOY TO THE WORLD!”
December 02 2017
Written by: Prophecy in the News

“Joy to the World”

One of the most famous of all Christmas Carols, “Joy to the World,” was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and Lowell Mason (1792-1872). The text written by Watts is considered to be one of the most joyous Christmas carols ever written. It is joyous not in the sense of amusement, but in the serious comprehension of what Christ’s nativity means to all men. Isaac Watts has been called the father of English hymnody and the bard (poet) of Southhampton. Watts is often compared to Charles Wesley for his talent as a hymnist and his contributions to hymnody.joy-3
Isaac Watts was the oldest of nine children of a Southampton clothier. His father was a Nonconformist, which means he would not accept the established Church of England.

joy-4-watt-birthplaceWhen Isaac was born in 1674, his father was in jail for his approval of Nonconformist thought. Although young Isaac had a great deal of respect for his father’s convictions, he often thought of his mother’s days of nursing her children at the entrance to the jail. The boy Isaac showed his brilliance at a very young age. He learned Latin by age four, Greek at age nine, French at eleven, and Hebrew at thirteen. Many of the well-to-do citizens offered to educate him at Oxford or Cambridge, which would have prepared him for the Anglican ministry. Isaac would have none of it and at age sixteen traveled to London to continue his education at a prominent Nonconformist academy. After graduation in 1694, he spent two years at home where he began his hymn writing.
He became the assistant pastor of one of the city’s leading Nonconformist churches, London’s Mark Lane Independent Church, in 1699. He became the head pastor in 1702. Only one year into his ministry, he began to show symptoms of a psychiatric sickness, an illness that he would have to deal with the rest of his life. Samuel Price came to help Isaac in 1703 and became co-pastor in 1713. His illness continued but his congregation did not want to part with the man who had become very well-known and loved much. He was probably the most celebrated writer of his time. The “Horoe Lyricae” (1706) is what gave him notoriety as a poet, buy it was his hymns that distinguished him. His poetry brought forth the spiritual passion that made hymn singing a deep religious experience. He wrote about sixty theological and philosophical books and about 700 hymns.

joy-6-when-i-survey-the-wondrous-crossHis most popular hymns are “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” and “Joy to the World!” Matthew Arnold, a nineteenth-century author, said, “’When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ is the best hymn in the English language.” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” has been given the title of England’s second national anthem and “Joy to the World” stands at the top of Christmas hymns.
Watts once criticized hymn singing in church when he said, “To see the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces of a whole assembly, while the psalm is upon their lips, might even tempt a charitable observer to suspect the fervency of their inward religion.” German Lutherans had been singing hymns for a hundred years. John Calvin wanted his supporters to sing only metrical psalms; English Protestants had followed Calvin’s command. However, young Watts had been complaining about the hymn singing in church since he was eighteen years old. His father grew weary of the complaining and told him, “if you don’t like the hymns we sing then write better ones.” At this point, Isaac shared his hymn “Behold the Glories of the Lamb,” based upon Revelation 5:6-10, with his father:

joy-7-behold-the-glories

Behold the glories of the Lamb, Amidst His Father’s throne;
Prepare new honors for His Name, And Songs as yet unknown.

Behold the glories of the Lamb, Amidst His Father’s throne;
Prepare new honors for His Name, And Songs as yet unknown.
The next Sunday morning his father shared the hymn with the church. They liked it so much that Isaac was asked to write another. The legacy was begun and so continued the request for the next 222 Sundays. Watts did not snub the metrical hymns – he just wanted them to be filled with more enthusiasm. Samuel Johnson said, “Watts was the first who taught the Dissenters (Nonconformists) to write and speak like other men, by showing them that elegance might consist with piety.”

joy-8-hymns-and-spiritual-songsIn 1705, Watts published his first volume of original hymns and sacred poems. His next hymnal was Hymns and Spiritual Songs and was published in 1707. Many of the Dissenters did not approve of the hymnal. They believed only Psalms and not hymns should be sung in church. This led Watts to adapt the Psalms to Christian worship services. It was called The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. It was his goal to give the Psalms a New Testament meaning and mode. Watts clarified his method with these words “Where the Psalmist describes religion by the fear of God, I have often joined faith and love to it. Where he speaks of the pardon of sin through the mercies of God, I have added the merits of a Savior. Where he talks of sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God…Where he promises abundance of wealth, honor, and long life, I have changed some of these typical blessings for grace, glory, and life eternal, which are brought to light by the gospel, and promised in the New Testament.”
In the early eighteenth century, Isaac Watts wrote his greatest Christmas hymn “Joy to the World,” a paraphrase of the verse taken from Psalm 98: 4, 8-9 (KJV):

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth;
make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
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.

joy-9-make-a-joyful

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth;
make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
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.

The first stanza proclaims “the Lord is come,” but this is the only verse that is linked with Christmas and the Nativity. The rest of the verses could be sung at anytime of the year. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and the manger are not mentioned in the hymn, but who could ever say this carol is not one of the greatest carols we have today?

joy-5-abney-homeWith Watts’ health failing, he moved to the estate of the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas and Lady Abney, to recuperate. His plans were to stay only a few weeks but spent the next thirty-six years as a guest there.

While he was staying at the Abney estate, he dedicated Divine and Moral Songs for Children (1715) to their children. In 1739, he suffered a stroke, which left him all but bedridden during his final years.
joy-10-divine-andIt is interesting to note that Watts never married. His sickness and unpleasant appearance caused his personal life to suffer. He was five feet tall, pale, skinny, and he had an oversized head. All of the pictures of him show him in a large gown with large folds. This is probably an effort by the artists to downplay his less than pleasing appearance. Elizabeth Singer, an avid reader of his book Hymns and Spiritual Songs thought Isaac Watts was her soulmate even though she only knew him through his writings. A meeting was arranged. When she saw his appearance, she refused his marriage proposal. This was as close as he ever came to being married.
When Isaac Watts was dying he said, “I am just waiting to see what God will do with me; it is good to say, what, when, and where God pleases. The business of a Christian is to do the will of God. If God should raise me up again, and use me to save a soul, that will be worth living for. If He has no more service for me, I can say, through grace, I am ready; I could without alarm if God please, lay back my head on my pillow and die this afternoon or night. My sins are all pardoned through the blood of Christ.”

joy-11-lowell-masonLowell Mason, composer of “Joy to the World, “was born and raised in Medfield, Massachusetts. As an adult, he worked in a dry goods store and a bank in Savannah, Georgia. His strong interest in music led him to study with Frederick L. Abel and write his own pieces. Later, as music leader at the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, he led the church to set up the first Sunday School for Afro-American children in the United States.
Mason wanted to publish a hymnal using European classical tunes, including those of composers Haydn and Mozart. After many inquiries with publishers, his hymnal was printed in 1822 by the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston. It was a big success. Mason played a large part in the development of American church music, composing over 1,600 hymns. He introduced music into American public schools and was the first noted music educator in the United States.
Mason wanted the European influence of music to continue in America. Many opposed this philosophy because much was already being done as purely American music. This indigenous American music can be seen in the Sacred Harp Singing Schools and the works of William Billings.

joy-12-fifth-avenueIn the last part of his life, he was the music director of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. Here he changed American church music from professional choirs and orchestras to congregational singing and organ music.
In 1839, Lowell Mason composed a tune that is forever linked with Watt’s “Joy to the World.” Mason wrote on the manuscript “from Handel.”
Apparently, he was referring to the joy-13-joy-to-thefirst four notes of “Lift Up Your Heads” from Handel’s Messiah and the middle section of the carol (“and heaven and nature sing”), which can also be located in Messiah in the introduction of “Comfort Ye My People.”
These two men, Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason, lived one hundred years apart. They were united, however, as both wanted congregational hymn singing to be an integral part of Christian worship. Both of their purposes were successful and today we have the most joyous Christmas carol ever written.

joy-2Joy to 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 world! The Saviour reigns;
Let all their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
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.
Source: “Songs of Christmas” and the stories behind them – by Tommy and Renee Pierce (Copyright 2008)