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)

Advertisements

The Hope of Christmas | Day 2 ~ Our Daily Bread Ministries

 

The Hope of Christmas

The Meaning of a Name
By: David McCasland
Today’s Reading: Matthew 1:18–25
You are to name him Jesus.
Matthew 1:21
According to a New York Times article, children in many African countries are often named after a famous visitor, special event, or circumstance that was meaningful to the parents. When doctors told the parents of one child that they could not cure the infant’s illness and only God knew if he would live, the parents named their child Godknows. Another man said he was named Enough, because his mother had 13 children and he was the last one! There’s a reason for everyone’s name, and in some cases it also conveys a special meaning.
Before Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord told Joseph, “[Mary] will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.” In that day and culture, many children would have been named Jesus, but only one came into this world to die so that all who receive Him might live eternally, forgiven and freed from the power of sin.
Charles Wesley wrote these words we often sing as Christmas nears: “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.”
Jesus came to turn our darkness into light, to transform our despair into hope, and to save us from our sins.

Jesus's name and mission are the same - he came to save us.

The Hope of Christmas | Day 1 ~ Our Daily Bread Ministries

 The Hope of Christmas

Day 1

Welcomed In
By: Monica Brands
Today’s Reading: Romans 15:7–13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
ROMANS 15:13
Is there a time in your life when you were welcomed in despite being an outsider? This happened for me as my college graduation approached. I vividly remember how nerve-wracking that time was. I desperately wanted to stay in the area but was still searching for full-time employment and knew I couldn’t yet afford an apartment.
That’s when a friend suggested I rent a room at her parents’ home. After I moved in, I found I had been given much more than an affordable place to live. From the moment I arrived, I was treated as a member of the family, invited to all meals and family gatherings, no questions asked. Her family’s warm hospitality gave me a new home and the ability to get on my feet until I was ready for my own place.
Their hospitality also reflected the other-seeking love of “God, the source of hope,” (Romans 15:13). The book of Romans reveals a God whose heart is always seeking to enfold “outsiders” into His family. Even His covenant with Israel was intended to reveal who God was to the whole world, a promise that led Israel’s prophets to predict a Messiah who would bring joy and hope to those outside of Israel (vv. 9–12). Because of Him, anyone can be welcomed into the life and love of God, “overflow with confident hope” (v. 13)—and welcome others as God has welcomed us (v. 7).

The God of Hope invites outsiders in.

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

 

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