School Shootings

I write this on Saturday, May 19, 2018, after the latest school shooting yesterday, at Santa Fe High School in southeast Houston, Texas.  This of course, occurred right on the heels of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.  (February 14, 2018).  How does the Christian react and make sense of this?  The interpretation is really very simple.  People who are lost in their sins and unbelievers, usually blame inanimate objects such as guns.  I have heard a plethora of stories of Johnny or Suzie taking their daddy’s pick up truck to school in the 1950’s with a loaded shot gun inside, and leaving the door unlocked.  Never was there a problem or a news report later on.

In the last sixty years, the landscape has changed.  Prayer and the Bible have been taken out of the public school system, and in many schools, the Koran would be more welcome than the Bible.  A news commentator said when he took his mother and grandmother out to lunch for Mother’s Day last Sunday, he noticed several children seated around him in a family setting, all playing violent video games.  This sets a wonderful foundation for violence to be acted out:  Proverbs 23:7a King James Version (KJV)  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  Christianity has been erased from our schools, and the secular world and multiculturalism have replaced it.  How about another scripture, since God reveals the truth, the problems with mankind (sin) that lead to such tragedies, and the panacea (Jesus Christ):  Hosea 8:7a King James Version (KJV)
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…”

When a nation has been blessed like America, and rejects God while satisfying our own lusts, the sins will be greater, and the consequences will be more severe.  Two of the greatest Old Testament leaders led Israel back to back, namely Moses and Joshua.  When Joshua died, one of the most awful books of the Bible was written – Judges, which is a history of Israel’s constant rebellion and punishment.  “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”  (Judges 21:25)

In our nation, the church is so “out to lunch,” that “Gay Marriage” and “LGBTQ” bathrooms are in vogue.  Perverted sex in every way, shape and form, is the “new normal.”  If you have a family based on the Lord’s plan in His Word, you may feel in the minority.  Violence and murder are taught to children through games, and the results with some of the youth, are acting out the games.  The recipe for disaster is an unpopular and ostracized youth who does not fit in.  He has no moral base of right and wrong, he has no restraints, and allows his wicked thoughts to become reality.  This is not hard to understand.  Then the Left immediately blames Harry the gunowner who simply takes advantage of his second amendment rights.

The cure?  Mankind is made in the image of God, hence we are spiritual beings.  We need to have a relationship with Him, or by default we will plummet into sin.  We need a new heart and to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  It is that simple.  Psycobabble  in our schools will not help.  Eliminating guns will not help.  We need to turn back to our spiritual roots.  Jesus Christ is our only hope.

Because of Him, Pastor Steve  <><

Pray For Revival In America!

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The Cure   ~   Unspoken

Lyrics
We’re all related, brothers and strangers
The king and the beggar bleed the same
We’ve all got a sickness, a terminal condition
We medicate it but the pain won’t go away
See the eyes of a million faces
Looking for it in a million places
Only one can save us, Jesus
You are the cure
Everybody’s searching for it
Everybody’s reaching out
Trying to grab a hold of something real
You are the cure
Only you can satisfy us
Fill up the void inside us
Never been a heart you couldn’t heal
You are the cure
You are the doctor, healer and father
To the orphan without a home
We fell into darkness, lost till you found us
You are the remedy we’re looking for
You are the cure
Everybody’s searching for it
Everybody’s reaching out
Trying to grab a hold of something real
You are the cure
Only you can satisfy us
Fill up the void inside us
Never been a heart you couldn’t heal
You are the cure
Cure for the broken, the hope for a hopeless world
(You are the cure) The meaning, the purpose, the peace that will make us whole
Don’t have to search no more
Don’t have to search no more
You are the cure
Everybody’s searching for it
Everybody’s reaching out
Trying to grab a hold of something real
You are the cure
Only you can satisfy us
Fill up the void inside us
Never been a heart you couldn’t heal
You are the cure, cure
Never been a heart you couldn’t heal
You are the cure, cure
Never been a heart you couldn’t heal (you are the cure)
Songwriters: Jonathan Burton Lowry / Chad Michael Mattson / Christopher Stevens
The Cure lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

 

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Josh Wilson ~ Dream Small

It occurred to me that folks will be rewarded in heaven primarily for doing the things we find in Josh Wilson’s following song and lyrics.  So many times, pastors erroneously perceive a small country church as a stepping stone to the “big time.”  The spiritual truth of the matter is that the REAL “big time” is simply serving in the center of His will, whatever and wherever it may be in our lives.  We “have arrived,” only when we sacrificially serve the King of Kings, and for His glory and not ours.  So many times we miss the joy in the journey because we are too focused on advancement tomorrow.  The spiritual truth of the matter is that the real joy is found only in the journey, and so often, the journey IS the destination.  Serving in a larger vineyard in a more public setting is not necessarily successful to the Lord.  Bigger is not better; and joy, fulfillment, and completion are found only as we obey the Lord and rest in Him.  Again, success and peace come to us only when we plod in the center of His will.  You think about that.  Yours in Christ, Pastor Steve  <><

Dream Small
Josh Wilson

Produced by Ben Glover

Dream Small Lyrics

[Verse 1]
It’s a momma singing songs about the Lord
It’s a daddy spending family time that the world said he cannot afford
These simple moments change the world
It’s a pastor at a tiny little Church
Forty years of loving for the broken and the hurt
These simple moments change the world

[Chorus 1]
Dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
Dream small

[Verse 2]
It’s visiting the widow down the street
Or dancing on a Friday with your friend with special needs
These simple moments change the world
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with bigger dreams
Just don’t miss the minutes on your way, your bigger things
‘Cause these simple moments change the world

[Chorus 1]
But dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall
So dream small

[Bridge]
Keep loving, keep serving
Keep listening, keep learning
Keep praying, keep hoping
Keep seeking, keep searching
Out of these small things and watch them grow bigger
The God who does all things makes oceans… from river

[Chorus 2]
But dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time
Live well
Loving God and others as yourself
Find little ways where only you can help
With His great love
A tiny rock can make a giant fall….
Yeah, five loaves and two fish’s could feed them all
So dream small
Dream small
Embed
More on Genius

Toby Mac ~ I Just Need U

TobyMac – I just need U. (Audio) – YouTube

Lyrics
Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showing me (showing me)
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough
And all I know
Is You’re my only hope
When I’m up when I’m down (uh, huh)
When the wolves come around (tell me)
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need You
On my darkest days (uh, huh)
When I’m losing faith (tell me)
No, it ain’t gon’ change
I just need, I just need You
Lord, I need You
Yeah, I just need You
Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff
They comfort me when I’m beat down, broken
Hold my heart when it’s split right wide open
Turn these eyes to my Soul Protector
Break the will of this born infector
‘Cause all I know, all I know
Is You’re my only hope
When I’m up when I’m down (uh, huh)
When the wolves come around (tell me)
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need You
On my darkest days (uh, huh)
When I’m losing faith (tell me)
No, it ain’t gon’ change
I just need, I just need You
Lord, I need You
Yeah, I just need You
When You pull me closer, I come to life
When You pull me closer, I come to life
When You pull me closer, I come to life
When You pull me closer, I come to life
When I’m up when I’m down
When my feet hit the ground
On my darkest days
No, it ain’t gon’ change
Oh Lord, I need You
When I’m up when I’m down
When the wolves come around
When my feet hit the ground
Yeah, I need, I need, I need, I need You
On my darkest days
When I’m losing faith
No, it ain’t gon’ change
Ain’t no way this thing gon’ change, it’s You
I need, is You
I need
On my darkest days
When I’m losing faith
I need You, I need, Is You, I need
Every single day, every breath I take
I need You
I need You
Songwriters: Bryan Fowler / Toby Mckeehan / Blake Neesmith
I just need U. lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

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The Story Behind “I Just Need U”

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Toby Mac
Born
October 22, 1964 in Fairfax, VA
Genre
Religious
Styles
CCM
Contemporary Christian
Teen Pop
Gospel
Christian Rap
Christian Rock
Also Known As
Kevin Michael McKeehan
Member Of
dc Talk

TobyMac
Biography by Steve Leggett

 

Grammy-winning Christian alternative and rap figurehead, both through his solo recordings and his work with dc Talk.
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by Steve Leggett
Professionally known as TobyMac, Toby McKeehan grew up in the northern Virginia suburbs in the shadow of Washington, D.C., where he fell in love with rap music. While attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, during the mid-’80s, he met Michael Tait and Kevin Max Smith (aka Kevin Max), and the three friends formed the Grammy-winning, platinum-selling Christian pop group dc Talk, which mixed elements of CCM, grunge, and rap. When dc Talk ended in 1999, McKeehan began a solo career that was stylistically diverse and immensely successful as well.

The first TobyMac solo album, Momentum, was released in 2001. A mixture of urban rock and rap, it garnered five Dove Awards and a Grammy nomination, and spawned the remix album Re: Mix Momentum, which saw the light in 2003. Using pretty much the same blueprint, and even adding in a little dancehall reggae, McKeehan released Welcome to Diverse City in 2004. It worked again; the album landed TobyMac a Dove Award for Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year. Another album-length remix set, Renovating->Diverse City, came in 2005. Released in 2007, Portable Sounds provided fans with another vibrant, genre-melding set of new material and entered the Billboard 200 at number 10. Four of its singles, including the Kirk Franklin and Mandisa collaboration “Lose My Soul,” reached Billboard’s Top Christian Songs chart. It was followed in 2008 by the two-disc live set Alive and Transported.

McKeehan’s roll continued the next decade. Tonight, released in 2010, debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and won a Dove Award for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year. In 2012, after Christmas in DiverseCity and Dubbed and Freq’d: A Remix Project, he released his fifth proper studio album, Eye on It. Ever willing to explore different sounds, it incorporated EDM-style dubstep. The set debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 and won the 2013 Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. Reviving his album remix format, he issued the companion album Eye’m All Mixed Up: Remixes in 2014. McKeehan debuted new material while on his 2014 Worship, Stories, and Song Tour, and the single “Beyond Me” was released at the beginning of 2015. His sixth album, This Is Not a Test, followed later that August. Another live album, Hits Deep Live, captured performances from an arena tour that kicked off in the spring of 2016. It arrived on audio and video formats that November.

Passion – Even So Come (Live) Kristian Stanfill ~ Holy Week

Passion – Even So Come (Live) ft. Kristian Stanfill – YouTube

Lyrics
All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon
Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing “even so come”
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
There will be justice, all will be new
Your name forever, faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon
Oh, like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing “even so come”
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be at Church, ready for You
Every heart longing for our King, we sing
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be at Church, we’ll be ready for You
Every heart longing for our King, we sing “even so come”
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Songwriters: Jess Cates / Christopher Tomlin / Jason Ingram
Even So Come (Radio Version/Live) lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company, Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “O Little Town of Bethlehem” ~ December 23 2017

Written By Prophecy In The News

 The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

 

December 23, 2017

 He was a dynamic pulpiter. He would preach at a rate of 250 words per minute. In thirty-five to forty minutes, he could deliver a sermon that would take the average minister an hour. His preaching was topical rather than expositional. There were times when he was criticized for his lack of depth in doctrine. However, he is recognized as one of America’s greatest preachers.
He had only been in the ministry six years when he was asked to preach the final rites over President Abraham Lincoln.
His ministry was also characterized by his love for children. Brooks’ study was filled with many scholarly books, papers, and journals, but it also held toys and dolls for his little friends, whom he always gave time for play.

 

He took the words to the church organist, Lewis Redner, and asked him to write a tune for his simple carol. Brooks wanted the children to sing the carol. Brooks wanted the children to sing the carol the next Sunday, which was Christmas Day. Brooks told Redner if he would compose a good melody he would name it after him. Redner gave much thought to the carol and tune all week long but the inspiration would not come. On Christmas Eve, he went to bed without a melody. Very late in the night, he was awakened by what he called an “angel strain” singing the melody he was to put with the carol. Early on Christmas morning, he found himself filling out the harmony for the carol. Lewis Redner said many times that the melody was a “gift from heaven.” Thirty-six children and six Sunday School teachers sang the carol for the first time on that Christmas morning in 1868, proving once again God never comes too late with too little; Brooks named the tune after his organist. To keep from embarrassing Redner, he changed his first name “Lewis” to “Louis” and called it “St. Louis.” The carol was printed in leaflets and was used locally. Then in 1874, William R. Huntington first published it in Church Porch. It has become one of the best-loved Christmas hymns in the English language.
Phillip Brooks was made Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts in 1891. Two years later, he died in Boston at the age of fifty-seven. Brooks has been called a great preacher. He has been referred to as having a “princely form towering… as a giant.” Probably the best description of Brooks’ was given by one of his five-year-old “little friends.” When told that her big friend had gone to heaven, she replied, “How happy the angels will be.”

 

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together,
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praised sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth!
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
Be born in us today,
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel!
Source: “Song of Christmas” and the stories behind them – by Tommy and Renee Pierce (Copyright 2008)

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Away in a Manger”

The Story Behind the Christmas Carol… “Away in a Manger”
December 19 2017
Written by: Prophecy in the News

One of the most loved children’s Christmas songs is “Away in a Manger.” The song is easily learned and the note range is quite within the vocal ability of all children. The lyrics are musical life lessons. They give a brief and simplistic summary of the Christmas birth of Jesus and go on to express a childlike love for the Savior with a desire and assurance that He is always near.

richard-hill

There is much speculation as to the origin of the simple hymn. Richard S. Hill, a reference librarian at the Library of Congress, is considered the authority on the song, having done extensive research on the subject. His findings were published in the Music Library Association’s journal, Notes, December of 1945, in his article “Not So Far Away In A Manger: Forty-one settings of an American Carol.”

According to Hill, the song first appeared in a Lutheran publication Little children’s book: for schools and families. By Authority of the general council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America. The song is listed as a nursery hymn with the book dated “Christmas 1884” and the copyright being June of 1885. In this printing, the tune for the poem is called St. Kilda and was written by J.E. Clark. Only two verses were included with this publication, and those used are without the listing of an author or source, a characteristic unlike other included hymns.

german-reformer-martin-luther

There is speculation that the two verses were from an anonymous play or story written within the German Lutheran sect found in Pennsylvania. In 1883, Lutherans as well as many Protestant groups were celebrating the 400th birthday of German Reformer, Martin Luther. The poem could have been written as part of a local presentation of this event, which possible could have led to the gross misinformation that was printed in a later publication.

It is also been commonly known as “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” Hill concluded: “Although Luther himself had nothing to do with the carol, the colonies of German Lutherans in Pennsylvania almost certainly did.”

james-r-murray

In 1887, the poem with a new melody was published in Dainty songs for little lads and lasses, for use in the kindergarten, school and home by James R. Murray. Mr. Murray, editor with the John Church Company, titled the piece “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” Beneath the title was the note “Composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.” The composer indication was marked only with the initials J.R. M. Because of the recent celebrations of Luther’s birth, this may have been an act of giving credence to Luther for the sole purpose of affording the piece notoriety. It was well received, and as its popularity grew, Murray re-published the song the following year (1888) in the publication Royal Praise for the Sunday School. A collection of new and selected gospel songs… by J. R. Murray. He slightly changed the song from the original by changing the key and repeating the last phrase – enough to claim a copyright to the song and stated it at the bottom of the page. In 1892, the carol was again re-published by the John Church Company in a compilation of songs entitled Little sacred songs for little singers of the primary department of the Sunday school and for kindergartens and the home. Murray again edited the collection but this time changing the song back to its original key and adding his initials. It is interesting to note that Murray is not given credit for the piece in subsequent collections by other publishers. This is probably due to his initial indication that the piece belonged to Luther. Fear of copyright infringement probably drove others away from Murray’s claim of copyright.

Originally, the poem had only two verses, which, due to lack of any significant documentation, are considered anonymous, though the German Lutheran congregation of Pennsylvania probably gave birth to the poem. The third verse was added something in the 1890’s. It first appeared in Charles H. Gabriel’s collection Gabriel’s vineyard songs.

Bishop William F. Anderson attributed the third verse to Dr. John T. McFarland. He claimed that McFarland wrote the verse in response to his request for a third verse to be performed at a Children’s Day program. Although Anderson had requested McFarland write a third verse, it is unclear whether he actually wrote the verse or just provided a verse. Dates seem to indicate that McFarland may have supplied Anderson with a copy of Gabriel’s 1892 edition and Anderson may have assumed that McFarland wrote the verse. According to Anderson, McFarland wrote the verse sometime between 1904 and 1908, eliminating McFarland as a viable source of the verse. james-r-murray

The early 1920s saw a new name on Murray’s carol. It was Carl Mueller who was given compositional credit. According to Hill, Mueller may have been a fictional name given by some editors who were still unsure of Murray as the composer. Rather than no indication of composer, a common German name may have been printed so as to dilute the trail of information. It would be comparable to using John Smith if an American name were used. Hill and his colleagues could find no credence to Mueller as the composer or even to the existence to Mueller. Hill gives his allegiance to Murray as composer of the tune, which is traditionally sung in American as “Away in A Manger” although the carol’s tune is officially called “Mueller.”

James R. Murray was born in 1841 in Andover Massachusetts to Walter and Christina Murray. He received his musical training from such hymnology giants as George F. Root, Lowell Mason, William B. Bradbury, George J. Webb, and Whitney Eugene Thayer. After a brief military service during the Civil War, he joined Root assisting in editorial duties. After the Chicago fire, he returned to Andover where he taught public school until 1881. He then joined the John Church Company, where he fulfilled editorial duties. It is supposed that he died in 1904 when his name disappeared from the directory of Cincinnati where he and his wife Isabel resided, although his year of death cannot be substantiated.

Although there are numerous tunes applied to the poem, two melodies are most prevalent in use today. Murray’s tune has become truly an American carol. However, in England and Europe, another tune is more commonly sung. In an ironic sense, another American composer, William J. Kirkpatrick, took the American poem, composed a new tune based on a Scottish song, and introduced it across the seas. In 1895, seven of Kirkpatrick’s compositions were included in a pamphlet published by the Cranston and Curts Company. It included narratives and recitations along with songs, much like today’s sacred musicals or cantatas. The title was Around the world with Christmas. A Christmas exercise. The pamphlet described different settings of Christmas in various countries, including England, Scotland, and Germany. Kirkpatrick’s tune, as arrangement of the song “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton, “was used with the poem “Away in a Manger” and titled “Luther’s Cradle Hymn.” It was sung by children or a selected soloist as a tribute to The German Fatherland in the pamphlet. Because of the popularity of the pamphlet overseas, Kirkpatrick’s setting is more commonly sung in England as opposed to Murray’s setting, which is traditionally sung in America.

carl-muelleraway-in-a-manger-music

Recent collections, which include the carol, still give credit to Luther and the mythical Carl Mueller. Regardless of who wrote what version or verse, the indication is that “Away in A Manger” is truly an American carol loved by many, especially children. This musical portrait of an innocent sleeping king in the humblest of settings is truly a landscape of peace on earth.

Luke 2:7 (KJV)
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

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Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

Source: “Song of Christmas” and the stories behind them – by Tommy and Renee Pierce (Copyright 2008)
“Then Sings My Soul” – by Robert J. Morgan

By Prophecy in the News| December 19th, 2017|Tags: Away in a Manger, Carol, Christmas, Songs

 

 

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)

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.

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