The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Silent Night”

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Silent Night”
December 15 2017
Written by: Prophecy in the News

silent-night-photos

Joseph Mohr was the son of a poor single mother, Anna Schoiber of Salzburg, Austria. His father left the mother and his son early in the child’s life, forcing the two to make a way for themselves. They found themselves in extreme poverty, living with Joseph’s grandmother. At the cathedral where the young man attended church services, the choir master recognized the talents the young man possessed, especially his aptitude for music. The choir master, Johann Nepomuk Hiernle, was determined that Joseph would be able to pursue an education. Joseph attended grammar school at Kremsmunster, completing his work with honors, and continued his education at the archdiocesan seminary in Salzburg. In August of 1815, he was assigned to his first church, located in Mariapfarr in the Salzburg province. His grandfather lived nearby in the village of Stranach, about a thirty-minute walk to the south. It is during this time at Mariapfarr that Mohr wrote a poem, which has become the lyrics to the world’s greatest Christmas carol. In 1816, Mohr produced the poem “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” What exactly was his inspiration is not known. Perhaps he was instilled by the beautiful, show-clad landscape as he walked from Mariapfarr to Stranach on a visit to his grandfather…and perhaps not.
Mohr’s tenure at Mariafparr was interrupted by poor health that required him to be removed to Salzburg for hospitalization. After his recovery, he was sent to the Nicola-Kirche, St. Nicholas Church, in Oberndorf. St. Nicholas was a new church located on the banks of the Salzach River and Mohr was to serve in the position of assistant priest. As Christmas 1818 approach, the church’s organ ceased to function. Legend has it that mice had eaten through the bellows, but this is doubtful. Being a common malady of organs, most organists know how to troubleshoot this type of problem. A more reasonabot problem could have been caused by the church’s location near the river. Rust may have prohibited the organ to work properly. A contemporary of the time reported the organ as being in poor condition and out of pitch. Whatever the cause, it appeared that the church’s Christmas Mass would be minus musical accompaniment. Mohr met with the service’s organist, Franz Xavier Gruber, to work on an alternative.
Gruber, a school teacher and organist, was actually moonlighting from his organist position in Arnsdorf. For economic reasons, Gruber sent his stepson to Arnsdorf to play for the Midnight Mass. Mohr approached Gruber with a copy of his poem, “Stille Nacht, Heilig Nacht.” The six verses Mohr had written two years prior seemed perfect for the Christmas Eve Mass, but instrumentation was still questionable. Mohr suggested that Gruber use the guitar, which resulted in musical genius. The two men sang the verses as a duet accompanied by guitar. The choir repeated the last two phrases in four-part harmony. The performance was very well received and the new carol spread throughout the St. Nicholas parish.
Sometime later, the church’s organ repairman, Karl Mauracher, found a copy of the carol left behind on the organ. Given permission to keep the copy, he returned to his home in the Ziller Valley of the Tyrol region with the simple carol, unknowing that he was about to send it on a journey that would spread it across the world. Back at home, Muracher shared the carol with two of the traveling performing families of the Valley, the Strassers and the Rainers. At this time period, families with musical talent would travel together presenting performances much like the von Trapps, the family portrayed in the movie musical, The Sound of Music.

tyrolean-singers

The carol did not have any notation of composer or lyricist, which resulted in its introduction as the “Tyrolean Carol” when it was first performed by the Strasser family in 1832. While touring in 1839, the Rainers were the first to perform the carol in the United States.

On Christmas Day, in front of Trinity Episcopal Church at Broadway and Wall Street in Manhattan, Americans were introduced to what would become their favorite carol.trinity-church-nyc
In 1854, the government of Austria ordered an investigation into the origin of the carol. Due to lack of records concerning its origin, the song was considered to be an anonymous Tyrolean folk song. Some had credited the work to Johanna Michael Haydn, younger brother of the famous composer Franz Joseph Haydn. Unfortunately, Gruber had been generous in supplying requests for copies of the carol many times without notation of either his or Mohr’s names. The investigation was sparked by an inquiry sent by the royal chapel in Berlin to the Church of St. Peter in Salzburg. Gruber’s son sang in the choir at St. Peter’s and relayed the request to his father. Gruber then wrote a detailed history of the carol and credit was given to him and Mohr. Tragically. Mohr did not know of his poem’s fame and died in 1848 in Wagrain, penniless, having donated his earnings to eldercare and the education of the area’s children. In 1995, an original transcription of the poem with Mohr’s signature was found and authenticated, putting to rest any controversy surrounding the true source of the poem and its musical setting.     rev-young

During the Civil War, Rev. John Freeman Young translated the lyrics into the words we are so familiar with today. Rev. Young took three of the original six verses and changed their order, placing the first, sixth, and second stanzas into the pattern that has become the standard even for Austrians. Young later became bishop of Florida where he is buried near Jacksonville. Floridians today continue their ties with “Silent Night” with the production of Adventsingen held each December in Volusia County. Based on the similar annual concert by the same name in Salzburg, the concert is attended by many and is highlighted with the singing of “Silent Night.”  silent-night-music

“Silent Night” has become the world’s most loved carol as demonstrated in an incident during Christmas Eve of 1914. World War I had begun forcing servicemen from many countries to experience Christmas in muddy, cold trenches away from family and friends. On this particular Christmas Eve, German and British troops found themselves bunkered down in trenches just yards apart on the front line of the war. The weather took a sudden turn as a deep cold front crossed the lines. Water in the muddy trenches began to turn to icy slush as the men began to shudder from the cold. British outlooks began to report twinkling lights coming from the German lines. As their commanders observed the enemy through binoculars, they could see the German soldiers with small Christmas trees adorned with lighted candles. It appeared the German soldiers were extending a Christmas greeting to their foe. Suddenly there was a sound of singing, joined by others who added a harmony to the words “Stille Nacht, Heilig Nacht.” The British quickly recognized the carol and began to lay down their arms to venture out into the open, joining their enemy in singing “Silent Night.” An undeclared truce broke out and superiors refrained from stopping it. One British soldier put up a board that read “Merry Christmas,” and a German soldier did the same. Two soldiers from each side then walked toward each other and shook hands.   no-mans-land

Some of the Germans spoke English, breaking the language barrier that possibly could have separated the two sides. Together the men sat around campfires exchanging stories and small gifts such as buttons and chocolate bars and comparing family photos. On Christmas Day, the two enemy forces found themselves playing games together on “No Man’s Land,” the area between the front line trenches. Then on December 26, at 8:30 a.m. the truce ended just as it began, peacefully. The British commander shot three rounds into the air with the German commander echoing back with two rounds, a signal that the war was back. This is only one of the truly remarkable incidences that reflect how “Silent Night” has reached the world.  ms-schumann-heink

Ernestine Schumann-Heink was an Austrian born opera singer who immigrated to the United States in 1908. She was known for her efforts to raise money for the Allied war effort although she had sons fighting on each side of the battle fronts. Her son, August Heink, was a merchant mariner who joined the German submarine service, and her stepson Walter Schumann and sons Henry Heink and George Washington Schumann were member of the United States Navy. In 1926, Ms. Schumann-Heink initiated the tradition of singing “Silent Night” over American radio each Christmas Eve. Singing in both languages of “Stille Nacht” and “Silent Night,” she continued her tradition until 1935.
The original St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf was abandoned in 1903 and the church was rebuilt on higher ground. The old church was torn down in 1906 because of the destruction to the foundation caused by flooding of the Salzach River.   silent-night-memorial-chapel

In 1937, the Silent Night Memorial Chapel was dedicated on a landscaped mound over the site of the original church’s altar site. A replica of the chapel can be found in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Its builder, “Wally” Bronner had visited the chapel in Oberndorf and was inspired to erect this replica as a tribute of thankfulness to God. Bronner also collected translations of the carol and in 1993 presented the Oberndorf chapel 175 translations in honor of the 175th anniversary of the song. By 1999, his collection had grown to over 300 languages.
The construction of the carol has been evaluated by many. Its simple, folk-like and yet elegant and classic melody carries the picturesque description of the moment of the Savior’s birth. The compound meter of the piece provides a lullaby effect as the words describe the virgin mother and her child’s radiant face. The melody with its long notes and extended vocal range is musically challenging for most but the story within the carol’s lyrics is the vehicle that endears the carol to the heart of the singer. The melody was slightly altered from its original due to the oral passing of the tune during the early years.
The carol was originally written for duet and guitar, but is equally well received when presented by full choir and organ or solo instrument. This song has been arranged more than any other carol. Its plaintive, reflective mood induces the meditation of Christ’s moment of birth that many of us yearn for and seek during the sometimes hurried Christmas season. Inarguably, it is the world’s most beloved carol.

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!
Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Silent night, holy night,
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Source: “Songs of Christmas” and the stories behind them – by Tommy and Renee Pierce (Copyright 2008)

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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

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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.

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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

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)

The Cross Has The Final Word ~ The Newsboys

Featuring Peter Furler And Michael Tait On The Same Song.  Excellent Video:

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Quote of the Day #176 – Charles Spurgeon

A quote from Charles Spurgeon on the unmatched-supremacy of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
“Oh! down, down, down, with everything else, but up, up, up, with the cross of Christ! Down with your baptism, and your masses, and your sacraments! Down with your priestcraft, and your rituals, and your liturgies! Down with your fine music, and your pomp, and your robes, and your garments, and all your ceremonials. But up, up, up, with the doctrine of the naked cross, and the expiring Saviour. Let the voice ring throughout the whole world, “Look unto Me and live!” There is life in a look at the Crucified One!”
~Charles Spurgeon (Christ, The Glory Of His People 826.464)

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The Offense Of The Cross

Galatians 5:11  King James Version (KJV)
11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

Billy Graham has a message called “the offense of the cross.”  The Greek word for offense is “skandalon,” from which we received the word scandal.  The cross is a scandal because it condemns the world, because blood was shed there, it sets up an imperative for an ideal life and one of self denial, and finally it is an offense because it claims to be the power and salvation of God.