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12 Days of Emmanuel (Day 8)

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, is one of the older Christmas songs we sing. The original source material, “O Antiphon,” dates back to circa 800 AD.

This version is sung a cappella–solo voice with no accompaniment. This song helps me enter into the waiting of Advent. While we wait for Christmas day we remember that God’s people were waiting for hundreds and hundreds of years for the advent of Jesus.

Deep in the solemn lyrics and minor key are promises of redemption: “ransom captive Israel…from depths of hell they people save, and give them victory o’er the grave…disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight.”

Therefore, “Rejoice! Rejoice, Emmanuel, shall come to thee O Israel.”

You can listen to O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and the whole album on one of the following:

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12 Days of Emmanuel (Day 7)

Last year was the 200th anniversary of “Silent Night” (1719-2019). This may be one of the most beloved Christmas songs.

Each year, our church closes with a candlelight service by singing “Silent Night, Holy Night; All is calm, all is bright…” You can join us in singing this with us on Christmas Eve at Grace Covenant, 444 Creamery Way, Exton, PA. (5:00 and 7:00 PM).

The famous history of the song was that a flood had ruined the organ at the church in Oberndorf, Austria. Joseph Mohr brought his words to Franz Gruber to write a tune for guitar since the organ was out of commission. The song was met with affection and was shared broadly.

Ironically, as many have pointed out, it was more likely a noisy night. Cattle and oxen surround the holy family. A cry went out as Mary endured labor pains and delivery (with no drugs or doctors). Babies cry; and so did Jesus!

Yet nostalgia of Silent Night is so enchanting and warm, and reminds us of the Prince of Peace brings peace. It was a holy night, and I’m sure there was also a holy hush when things quieted down.

This version, with piano (not guitar), plays with the rhythm slightly to emphasize the message. It’s jazzy and mello. So slow down, fix a cup of hot cocoa or tea, and put your earphones on…and then listen to Silent Night.

Here’s where you can find the whole album, Emmanuel.

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12 Days of Emmanuel (Day 6)

Bring A Torch Jeanette Isabella” is a French song from the Provence region. It is modeled around the imagination of a mother speaking to her child, pretending that the manger scene in the public square is the actual place.

Some have said the song is meant to imagine that two young milkmaids (Jeanette and Isabella) have been asked to bring a torch to the original manger scene. Either way, it is fun playful and meant to imagine what it would be like if you get to see Jesus for yourself. My mentor, Robert J. Morgan delivered a sermon in 2003 based on this song.

So enjoy the song and imagine that you we privilege to come see Jesus when he was born. How would you act?

  • Bring a torch and gaze quietly
  • Let Jesus sleep, “don’t talk so loud”
  • Invite all the good folk of the village
  • See how he smiles in his sleep!

Are you coming to see Him? What does that look like for you this Christmas? Who will you tell?

Here’s where you can find the whole album, Emmanuel.

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12 Days of Emmanuel (Day 5)

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a classic Christmas story-song. It focuses on the Lukan narrative of Mary, the angels, and the shepherds and emphasizes the rest God provides through His Son, our Savior.

The refrain, “Oh-oh, tiding of comfort and joy, comfort and joy” is a catchy repeat that allows even those who struggle with all seven verses to always have a part to play.

In this version Sarah follow the original tune, which makes it an arrrangment, but it has its own style. The verses that are here form a chiastic (hourglass structure.) The 2nd and 6th are about Mary and have a protestant feel, as they emphasize both Mary’s humility, and worship of Jesus. (Roman Catholics usually focus on her honor and virtue.) Here’s the structure:

  • 1. Public invitation — God REST ye merry Gentlemen
    • 2. Mary’s HUMILITY — did nothing take in scorn
      • 3. Angel to Shepherds — announcement
        • 4. FEAR NOT — he comes to save us
      • 5. Shepherds go to Bethlehem — laid in a manger
    • 6. Mary’s worship — kneeling to PRAY before the manger
  • 7. Public response — “Now to the Lord sing PRAISES all you within this place, and with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace.”
  • So note the structure:
    • The center verse is #4 — FEAR NOT.
    • Surrounded by Angel and Shepherds (#3 and #5)
    • Sourrounded by Mary (#2 and #6) — HUMBLE and PRAYING,
    • Surrounded by our response: REST and PRAISE

Tidings of comfort and joy!

Here’s where you can find the whole album, Emmanuel.

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12 Days of Emmanuel (Day 4)

Thou Who Wast Rich is not a well-known Christmas carol. Frankly the tune hasn’t stood the test of time. But the lyrics, written by Frank Houghton, are spectacular! They are a reflection fo 2 Corinthians 8:9. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

In this example of theology from heaven’s perspective, you will hear Sarah’s version imitate a royal theme of fanfare in the piano part.

The original verses (here 1, 2, and 4) emphasize Christ’s humiliation, incarnation, and exaltation. I wrote an additional verse (here # 3) which emphasizes crucifixion, following 2 Corithians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

I believed the song was improved by making the work of Christ’s atonement explicit. So not only did he become poor, become man, but he also became sin.

Here are the lyrics as they are sung on Emmanuel.

1. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake became poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor.

2. Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake became man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

3. Thou who art good beyond all measure,
All for love’s sake became sin;
Setting aside thine own good pleasure
Die to make us live again,
Thou who art good beyond all measure,
All for love’s sake became sin.

4. Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.

Enjoy this powerful song that speaks of the costly work of Christ to make us heirs with Him. What grace that though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor!

Also, if you’d like to learn even more about the background of Frank Houghton and the context of Thou Who Wast Rich, as it was birthed out of tragedy in missions check out this post.

Here’s where you can find the whole album, Emmanuel.

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