The Pain Of It All


By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
January 3, 2011

There are not many people I know that like pain. I have met people who enjoy inflicting pain upon others, but thankfully they are the exception rather than the rule. Most people I’ve met would prefer to experience joy and delight.

Pain, which is a distressing sensation, can be a physical suffering or distress from an injury or illness, a mental or emotional suffering or torment. Pain could also be a result of torture or a miserable experience. Of course an extreme worry can cause pain.

Pain is a natural way of our bodies getting our attention. — and it works! That knife blade going deeper in will cause us damage. That person may be violent. That food smells bad. These aren’t pleasant experiences — but we’d be worse off without them.

There are a rare amount of people that do not feel pain, but they can be seriously injured without knowing it.

Pain and suffering are related. Our pain reaction does feel like a reaction — it happens before we think or reflect on what we are experiencing. It feels direct and immediate. But the years we spend in childhood learning about danger and pain — and the fact that our reaction can be triggered due to past experiences — mean that the distinction between pain and suffering can be a slippery one.

Some years ago I heard about an unusual experiment that some scientists conducted. The scientists wired a cage with low level voltage in the bottom of the cage, they put dogs in it and then they closed the door. They sent a current through. It wasn’t enough to harm the dogs but it was enough to inflict some mild pain. You can guess the dog’s reaction. They jumped, they barked, they howled. Well, they kept this up several times a day, but the reaction eventually changed. After a while the dogs barely twitched when the current went through the floor of that cage. They had gotten conditioned to it. In fact, the scientists then opened the cage door, sent the current through the floor and not one dog even tried to leave. It’s as if they’d given up ever getting away from the pain. One last step in the experiment: they put a dog in the cage who had not been conditioned to the current and they left the door open. Well, they turned on the juice and the new dog knew exactly what to do. He ran right out of the cage followed by all the other dogs!

One dog knew what it was to be free; he knew where the hope was. But the one who had become conditioned to a hopeless situation didn’t even try to leave when he could – until one of his own came into that cage and showed him the way out.

And so it is with some of the people around you. They’ve been hurt by bad relationships, broken relationships, selfishness, loneliness, betrayal, but they look around and they see everyone else living in the same stress and confusion and emotional hollowness. And they decide this must be the way it is and the way it always will be. Just like those dogs in that cage.

The only way they’ll find hope in real life is if one of their own comes into their cage and shows them the way out. We want the shock-free environment outside the cage. There are those that find their way out of the cage. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten the people who are still in there. We work with them, we live around them, and we meet them every day.

There are people you know who are accepting a level of life they should never accept. It’s lonelier, it’s emptier, it’s more disappointing, and it’s more fatal than it was ever meant to be. There is a door that leads out. But they haven’t gone through it yet, maybe because no one has come into their cage to lead them out. Are you the one they are waiting for you?

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/the-pain-of-it-all/


Love Rejoices in Truth

love rejoices in truth

May 6, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

Love rejoices in truth, not in fake news.

What makes you happy?
What makes you laugh out with great joy, from the depths of your heart?
Have you ever checked the reasons for your laughter? Or,
have you just strung along life and gone with the flow?

So many believers, born into “christian” families, have never bothered to examine their lives. Which is why many are found struggling with mental and emotional issues. How to examine? Looking at Jesus who walked the earth as the only example to emulate. Studying the word of God to seek God in prayer for the things inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If laughter is the best medicine, what is causing that laughter is critical. Movies and Internet media have contaminated the minds and hearts of people with their “roasts” and “stand-ups”. Do these bring you joy? True christians do not seek after false joy; they know where to find real joy.

There is so much joy when a team wins in sports or games. This joy too is carnal and earthly. These systems were created to fill us with duplicate joy and steal our time away from God. We also know most of these games are fixed to make money.

Love rejoices in the truth

“rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:6‬)

The wicked love lies and sin. The righteous love the truth. Those who enjoy truth, also are sanctified by the power in the truth of the word of God.

How can we rejoice and enjoy the presence of God? When we humble ourselves in prayer and fellowship. When we keep God before us, He gives our body rest too; not just our spirit and soul. The true way of this life is found in the presence of God. God reveals it to us.

“I have set the LORD always before me: Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: My flesh also shall rest in hope. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm‬ ‭16:8-9, 11‬)‭

A new day is a day of rejoicing because this is the day He has made (Psalms 118:24). The truth about the new day is, it’s a gift. A gift to come closer to Him, be fruitful.

Be filled with the joy of the Lord, and in the power of His might. When God fills us with the Holy Spirit, our rejoicing is powered by love, God’s love.

Prepare yourself for the day of greatest joy for all those who seek His coming. The rapture is near, the groom is all set to pick the bride the Holy Spirit prepares. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.

VIDEO The Epistle of Joy

 Nathan W. Bingham Feb 13, 2021

In every situation, even the most difficult trial in life’s darkest hour, Christians have a reason to rejoice. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul encourages us to look to the future with genuine optimism, trusting that God and His promises will prevail.

Transcript:

Philippians is one of my favorite epistles of the Apostle Paul, and it is called in church history “the epistle of joy.” Because again and again in this letter, Paul speaks of his own joy, which is infectious, and he then encourages the people at Philippi to participate in the joy that Paul is experiencing—and that while he is writing to them from imprisonment! And he said, “I rejoice; therefore, you rejoice as well.” And Paul, at that time, is anticipating the possibility of his own imminent demise, but he looks forward to the future with joyous anticipation.

This is a theme, of course, that’s not found merely in the Philippian correspondence, but it’s found throughout the writings of the Apostle. And so frequent is this motif of joy that I think it is safe to say that this fruit of the Holy Spirit is something that should be evidenced and manifest to some significant degree in every true Christian’s life. Yes, we are to participate in the mourning and the sorrows of this world and be willing to go through the valley of the shadow of death for the sake of Christ.

Yes, there are times when we are cast down but not destroyed and we sorrow. But the basic posture of the Christian should be one of joyous optimism, because we know in whom we have believed, and our trust is in Him, and we know that God certainly will prevail. So, there is a reason for our joy.

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/epistle-joy/

How To Be Full Of Heaven?

are you full of heaven

February 19, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

Being full of heaven means to walk in the fullness of God’s blessings. Your heart cannot be full of heaven until you are emptied of hell.

Our hearts cannot be full of faith unless we are first emptied of fear, pride and sin. To receive of God’s fullness, we need to be emptied of all our self. Not I, but Christ be formed in me.

The young man was full of pride and could not empty himself for Christ. His heart was full of sorrow because he loved his wealth more than God.

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:22)

Ananias and Sapphira’ hearts was filled with deceit and lies. Another victim(s) of loving money more than God, despite being in a time when great wonders were happening.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (Acts 5:3)

Cain was full of jealousy and anger against Abel. When we are full of bitterness and anger, it shows. Evil natures cannot be suppressed when we give room for it in our hearts. It will eventually manifest.

But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell (Genesis 4:5).

When their hearts were full of sin, they ended up manifesting its effects.

What are you full of dear believer?

How can we be full of Heaven?

1. Fullness of the Father (Ephesians 3:19)
2. Be filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:8)
3. Walk in the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13)
4. Abound in the joy of the Lord (Psalms 16:11)
5. Fullness of faith (Acts 11:24)

Emptied of His glory, God became a man. To walk in earth in ridicule and shame. Jesus won the victory we needed; all we need is to stay faithful till the end. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.

How Do I “Count It All Joy” ?

FROM Joel Smit Nov 16, 2020

Like the inhospitable cold corridors of the emergency hallways we entered, so were the years of trials and tribulations my family endured. Life-altering pain, weekly doctor’s visits, IVs, and deeply weary souls underneath it all consumed the last five years of our life. Like a thief who comes to steal, it has physically, emotionally, and spiritually robbed us, leaving us depleted, weary, and wondering if we would survive. Joy has been rarely perceptible through our enduring loss. However, the seeds of a greater work, and yes, even of a greater delight have begun to sprout and flourish as we peer under the surface of what God is doing. A work that God is doing not only in us but in all who endure trials.

Joy does not arise naturally from us as we suffer the effects of the fall of this life. Why would James exhort the readers of his epistle to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2)? His words seem to be jarring initially, especially at the beginning of a letter to exiles who have been dispersed from their homes. We would expect words that seem more sympathetic, perhaps, intermingled with pity and compassion. The brother of our Lord, however, gets straight to the point and exhorts the opposite expression of natural emotion—joy amid trial. These seemingly cold words of James are actually filled with warm gospel truth and hope as they point the troubled soul to the root from which the true healing balm comes.

Our hearts often pleaded for God to remove our burden as it felt all-consuming and far too weighty to bear, and yet in those moments we found deeper appreciation for the sufferings of our Lord. Jesus’ need to withdraw to a solitary place in the garden of Gethsemane and plead in sorrowful anguish to have this cup removed, yet He surrendered to the will of the Father. As He hung on the cross, with His earthly life excruciatingly draining away, He recognized and even delighted in a work greater than the pain. The salvation of the world was taking place through the anguish of His soul (Isa. 53:11); redemption through His suffering and His shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). If God used the worst suffering for the greatest good, then surely He can and does use our suffering for good as a part of His greater redemptive work.

The gospel story demonstrates that all suffering comes from the hands of a loving Father who has redeemed His own and cares enough never to waste a trial without its having its perfect work. As we waded deep tumultuous waters, these trials began exposing our fears, frailties, and lack of childlike trust, yet all the while they simultaneously strengthened our feeble frame and developed aspects of our faith that would not have been exhibited otherwise. The trials He sends are not consuming but rather refining and produce needed and necessary results. As an old hymn states, “The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.” Only the God of the gospel can do such a work as that.

Joy is cultivated in our hearts and minds when we trust that the Lord is doing this refining work in us as we are experiencing our earthly trials. Making complete that which would otherwise be incomplete. James clearly states this end goal when he says that trials happen “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4). That perfection comes in being made like the perfect One, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christlikeness is taking place through our affliction and suffering.

Trials are not evidence that the Lord has forgotten or forsaken; rather, trials are sure proof that the Lord is performing His redemptive work in us. Like a master weaver, God uses the seemingly dark threads of trials to accent parts of His masterpiece that would otherwise be inadequate without these threads. Joy comes in knowing that the God-ordained process of being made more complete is presently at work and will not cease until the day we are made like His Son. As painful as the process is and will be, what a joy it is to be shaped and molded to better reflect the One we love.

Sovereignly sent and used by the Almighty, trials ought to be seen as badges of honor in the life of the believer—a worthiness that is given to those who suffer well in the Lord. Job’s trials came because he was upright and highly regarded of the Lord (Job 1:8). James, likewise, says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial” (James 1:12). Much like a military uniform would display decorated service through many conflicts, so too a battle-tested soldier of Christ is distinguished by his trials. Though not meritorious in themselves, trials bring us great reward because through our trials we share mysteriously in the suffering of Christ (1 Peter 4:12–13). Our suffering does not add to Christ’s work, for His suffering is sufficient to save (Rom. 3:21–26). Moreover, suffering rendered unto Christ is painful. However, it culminates in glory and eternal joy, a joy that commences here below as we walk the path of trials.

James’ stark opening is the reality-rattling truth that is needed to wake the troubled mind and soul from the difficult circumstance to the deeper—and often unseen—work that the Lord is doing. Does that mean we will always be able to discover the redemptive nature of chronic illness, a cancer diagnosis, or the tragic death of a loved one? Certainly not on this side of glory. Yet, we can be confident that He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus and that no tear or sorrow will ever be wasted in the greater plan of our Sovereign Lord (Phil. 1:6).

Apart from grace, the outward circumstances of our situation would have led only to self-pity and doubt of God, but the anchor of Scripture and God’s redemptive work in Christ Jesus have led us to discover in Him a much deeper joy—a joy that is known by His children alone. Take cheer, troubled one—the Lord’s work is not done. The same Lord that used the cross for the redemption of the world is at work in your trials for His greater purposes. In this, we can have joy.

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/how-do-i-count-it-all-joy/

This Collection Of Deep-Cut Carols Will Help Prepare Your Heart For Christmas

I hope this small selection of lesser-known hymns and carols may brighten your season. May they bring joy and awe, solace and peace, contemplation and wonder.

This Collection Of Deep-Cut Carols Will Help Prepare Your Heart For Christmas

It’s time for Christmas music! Technically, of course, if you’re traditional about these things, it’s time for Advent music. Advent is the beautiful four-week season that precedes Christmas, a time of waiting in darkness for the light of Christ to dawn. During this tumultuous year of 2020, the season of Advent, and all that comes with it, has much to say to worshippers (read an essay I wrote on Advent and the hymns and carols particular to that season here).

Today we must admit that Advent and Christmas are often somewhat jumbled in our minds. In this year of unique trials and tribulations especially, many of us may feel, alongside Mame, that we “need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

The trouble with Christmas fare on the radio, and with many commercial Christmas albums, is that they often repeat the same stable of songs, leaving out dozens of musical gems that have much to offer — musically, lyrically, emotionally, and theologically. To help inject some fresh wonder into your holiday season, here is a list of lesser-known hymns and carols that pertain to both Christmas and Advent.

The playlist takes a tour through the many moods and categories of the nativity celebration, from the eerie and haunting to the danceable and to the pastoral. There are songs for deep silence and songs for great joy, but all are songs that aren’t heard often enough in this holy winter season — a broad array of songs that go beyond the holly-jolly spirit to the holy core of the Christian season.

Ponder Nothing Earthly-Minded

The first category is filled with eerie songs — Christmas music with a dark and profound undertone, the kind that can cause a chill to run down your spine even as you pause in wonder. More meditative hymns than jolly carols, these will appeal if you love the spare and stately nature of songs like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

 ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’

There is, as we know from Ecclesiastes, a time for everything. Many songs in this season of the year call for singing, for making a joyful noise unto the Lord, but this Advent hymn echoes the call to worship in Habakkuk 2:20, “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The opening verse makes no bones about calling the singer to a posture of worship for a holy God:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;

Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in his Hand

Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

The verses go on to meditate on Christ the “King of Kings, yet born of Mary…Lord of Lords, in human vesture, in the body and the blood.” As the hymn swells into its concluding verses, it calls up visions of an angelic army:

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,

As the Light of Light descendeth from the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

Its final line closes with the cherubim and seraphim in a rapturous call of alleluia.

The text is a version of the 5th century “Cherubic Hymn,” an offertory prayer used in the Greek Liturgy of St. James. Some sources have suggested it may date back to 275 AD, if not earlier. The Hymns and Carols of Christmas, an excellent online resource for church music fans, recounts that early Christian churches sang arrangements of it in Syriac before it was translated into Greek.

In most modern churches, the hymn is set to a 17th-century French folk tune called “Picardy,” using an English text translated out of the Greek in 1846. Early twentieth-century church musician Ralph Vaughn Williams is responsible for the now-common arrangements seen in the English Hymnal, which produce a majestic result.

‘Gabriel’s Message’ | ‘The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came’ | Basque Carol

Frequently called by its first line, or known simply as the “Basque Carol,” “Gabriel’s Message” is, like many good Christmas and Advent songs, based on an anonymous 13th or 14th century Latin text, Angelus ad Virginem. It describes in vivid color the moment of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary that she would bear the Christ, the Son of God.

Sharing in the theme of haunting beauty, it includes one of the most evocative descriptions of an angel in hymnody:

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame.

No baby cherub is this angel, but a heavenly messenger worthy of inspiring fear and trembling. Throughout, the song also magnifies the role of Mary with a refrain at the end of every verse.

As the second verse reads:

For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,

All generations laud and honor thee,

Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold

Most highly favored lady — Gloria!

The song’s refrain echoes the King James Bible quite closely, in which Gabriel tells Mary she has “found favor with God.” Elizabeth also exclaims to her cousin, “Blessed art thou among women!” As the biblical text takes the time to magnify Mary’s part in the Christmas miracle, so too should we.

The carol also captures a lovely, condensed version of the Magnificat at its end:

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head

To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,

‘My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.’

Most highly favored lady — Gloria!

‘Bethlehem Down’

Composed as a choral anthem or carol, this cold, sparkling tune can also be easily sung as a simple, unharmonized melody. One of the most modern offerings on this list, it was composed in 1927 by the eccentric Anglo-Welsh composer Peter Warlock, who set to music a text written by his friend, poet Bruce Blunt.

For such an elegant hymn, however, it has slightly undignified origins. Warlock and Blunt once suggested they’d penned it to finance what they called an “immortal carouse” — that is, a round of overzealous partying on Christmas Eve. They submitted the resulting work to The Daily Telegraph’s annual Christmas carol contest, which they won.

The song’s British origins make it more common in the Anglican Church, but it deserves a place on this side of the pond — or frankly, on every side of any pond. The hymn sets a pastoral nativity scene with a grand sweep and a long view of both its earthly and heavenly consequences. In the first verse, Mary’s voice looks ahead to the full purpose of her son’s life:

When He is King, we will give him the King’s gifts,

Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,

Beautiful robes, said the young girl to Joseph,

Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

The second verse speaks of the songs of a shepherd while the baby lies sleeping. In the middle of this tranquil night scene, it intones the truth that Mary does not yet understand about her son’s coming reign:

When He is King, they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,

Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,

He that lies now in the white arms of Mary

Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

A Call to Dance

The second category is what I’ll call medieval dances — uptempo, delicate, sprightly carols for a joyous Christmastide. There are so very many of these to choose from, and they deserve more play than they often get.

‘Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day’

The words of this merry carol don’t readily identify it as an Advent hymn. Absent are references to camels and angels. It sounds like a jaunty medieval love song — largely because, in a sense, it is.

The carol is sung throughout from the first-person perspective of the infant Jesus, who begins by looking forward to his Incarnation, which will eventually deliver to him his “true love,” the church. The imagery of the church as the beloved bride of Christ, and the end of history as a joyful wedding feast, has endured since the writing of the Christian scriptures, becoming especially popular during much of the middle ages.

In this tune, the Christ-child sings with joy:

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;

I would my true love did so chance

To see the legend of my play,

To call my true love to my dance;

{Chorus}

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,

This have I done for my true love!

The present tune appears to date to the 19th century, but the text is older — possibly much older. The first published edition of the carol, with text and music, appears in an 1833 collection of “Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern,” but it may well date to medieval times. According to “The Hymns and Carols of Christmas,” “Dancing Day” has “close parallels with a number of 15th-century carols in which the infant foretells his future to his mother.

The line “to see the legend of my play” suggests it may have originally been part of a medieval mystery play, in the same way as the Coventry Carol was, but perhaps, in this case, part of one of the three-day religious plays performed in the Cornish language in the 14th and 15th century.

Whenever it originated, it’s great fun to sing. The metaphor for the Christ and the church as a union of marital love is striking to modern ears, and the snappy tune conveys the great joy of this holy wedding dance. It also allows one to merrily trill a line about the baby Jesus lying in a manger “betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass,” which I have always found to be distinctly charming.

 ‘Noël Nouvelet’

We’re relatively used to Christmas hymns appearing wholly or partially in Latin, but this one is particularly winsome in its original French. “Noël Nouvelet” translates to new Christmas, more or less. “Noël” is based on the Latin natus, meaning “born,” so in a way, the entire title and first line of this hymn are a double play on themes of newness and birth. Technically speaking, it was intended as a New Year’s carol, for use during the 12 liturgical days of Christmas.

This one falls solidly into the realm of early music carols. The tune is usually credited as traditional French, and versions of it date back to the 15th century. Many versions and variations exist, often inconsistent with one another, in the manner of a vernacular song. It appears in a large collection of French carols in 1721, and English translations or partial translations appear as early as the 17th century.

The version featured in the playlist is in French, but the usual English rendering of the first verse is as follows:

Noël nouvelet, sing we a new Noël;

Thank we now our God, and of His goodness tell;

Sing we Noël to greet the new born King;

Noël nouvelet, a new Noël we sing!

The tune is also used for the Easter hymn “Welcome, Happy Morning” and some listeners find it has sonic similarities to the increasingly popular Spanish Christmas carol “Riu, Riu Chiu,” as well.

‘Personet, Hodie’ | ‘On This Day Earth Shall Ring’

This hymn appears in both Latin and English versions, and both are thoroughly delightful to sing. The usual text and words used today come from the Piae Cantiones, a medieval song treasury assembled in Scandinavia in 1582.

A deeper dive reveals the Latin text to date sometime from the 12th century, and the German tune from about the 14th century — possibly the year 1360. It has been beloved by many generations of Christians but appears on far too few holiday albums in our era.

In either language, this energetic carol makes use of repeated words and syllables, bouncing through a rousing refrain at the end of every verse. It is also often used at Epiphany, the liturgical season coming immediately after Christmas, during which the church traditionally commemorates the arrival of the three wise men from the East and other events intervening between the birth of Jesus and the start of his ministry:

On this day earth shall ring

with the song children sing

to the Lord, Christ our King,

born on earth to save us;

him the Father gave us.

{Refrain}

Id-e-o-o-o, id-e-o-o-o,

Id-e-o gloria in excelsis Deo!

The Latin ideo used in the English translation means “therefore,” making the refrain “Therefore, glory to God in the highest.” Unreservedly joyous, the second verse proclaims:

His the doom, ours the mirth;

when he came down to earth […]

Id-e-o gloria in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds in Flow’ry Fields

The third category assembles a selection of beautiful carols that evoke classic peaceful images of Christmas — that is, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. These songs make much of weather and atmosphere, evoking powerful imagery of the natural world just as the Lord came down to take on fleshly form. Melodic and gentle, they may appeal to listeners who favor classics like “Away in a Manger” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’

This beautiful carol is similar in theme to “Angels We Have Heard on High” and can be sung to the same tune, but whereas that one is recorded and sung all the time, this one is criminally underutilized. It also features some lovely unique verses, framed by a repeated call to worship.

The first verse sets the scene and introduces the chorus:

Angels from the realms of glory,

Wing your flight o’er all the earth,

Ye who sang creation’s story,

Now proclaim the Messiah’s birth;

{Chorus}

Come and worship,

Worship Christ, the new-born King.

The words were penned by James Montgomery in 1816. It can be sung to a variety of melodies, but suits best the tune “Regent Square,” by one Henry Thomas Smart — elegant in its simplicity — although so sadly rare among decent recordings that I have had to include an instrumental version.

Once again, the later verses of the hymn bid the singer or the hearer come into a new appreciation of Christmas and its profound meaning, as they bid:

Sages, leave your contemplations,

Brighter visions beam afar,

Seek the great Desire of Nations;

Ye have seen his natal star.

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’

If you’re looking for a rich, stoic hymn, then this one with a distinctly un-jolly title delivers. It isn’t actually bleak — it just presumes the traditional (if historically inaccurate) midwinter setting for Christ’s birth. In this manner, it echoes common themes of the Advent season, as light and hope break into a season of waiting and darkness.

As a complete composition, “In the Bleak Midwinter” owes its existence to two famous names and one man who came to almost regret it as his one-hit-wonder.

The text is by English poet Christina Rossetti. It was first published under the simple title “A Christmas Carol” in Scribner’s Monthly in January 1872, and it first appeared in book form in her 1875 poetry collection “Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems.” The poem first appeared in “The English Hymnal” in 1906, set to a tune by classical composer Gustav Holst.

Harold Darke, an English organist and composer, is responsible for arranging the most common choral version of the tune in 1911. Beloved in its native country, it is a staple of King’s College Choir’s famous annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is broadcast throughout the world each Christmas Eve.

In 2008, a British poll named “In the Bleak Midwinter” the best Christmas carol. Darke came to both love and regret his setting of the piece, feeling many musicians forgot entirely about the rest of his many choral compositions.

It is altogether tranquil, poignant, and lovely. The first verse sets the scene:

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

The second verse enriches the narrative, subtly blending the majesty and humility of the Incarnation:

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign:

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty,

Jesus Christ.

‘Whence is that Goodly Fragrance’

We’ll travel back to France again for this next tune. The English version is a simple translation of a 17th-century French traditional carol “Quelle est Cette Odeur Agreable.” It’s typically set to a tune first composed by John Gay, for his 1778 Beggars Opera.

Charming in either language, the text poetically compares Christ to a beautiful fragrance, bringing beauty and enchanting the senses with a joy not of this earth. The first verse in English reads:

Whence is the goodly fragrance flowing,

Stealing our senses all away,

never the like did come a-blowing,

Shepherds, in flow’ry fields of May;

Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing,

Stealing our senses all away?

The second verse borrows a more familiar Advent image, asking:

What is that light so brilliant, breaking

Here in the night across our eyes?”

The third verse answers the rhetorical questions. Naturally, both the light and the fragrance are found “in manger lying.”

New Songs for an Old Season

I hope this small selection of lesser-known hymns and carols may brighten your season. May they bring joy and awe, solace and peace, contemplation and wonder. May they also encourage you to seek beyond the beaten path, across the centuries, all the way through the wide and wonderful world that is Christmas music.

It’s time for Christmas music! Technically, of course, if you’re traditional about these things, it’s time for Advent music. Advent is the beautiful four-week season that precedes Christmas, a time of waiting in darkness for the light of Christ to dawn. During this tumultuous year of 2020, the season of Advent, and all that comes with it, has much to say to worshippers (read an essay I wrote on Advent and the hymns and carols particular to that season here).

Today we must admit that Advent and Christmas are often somewhat jumbled in our minds. In this year of unique trials and tribulations especially, many of us may feel, alongside Mame, that we “need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

The trouble with Christmas fare on the radio, and with many commercial Christmas albums, is that they often repeat the same stable of songs, leaving out dozens of musical gems that have much to offer — musically, lyrically, emotionally, and theologically. To help inject some fresh wonder into your holiday season, here is a list of lesser-known hymns and carols that pertain to both Christmas and Advent.

The playlist takes a tour through the many moods and categories of the nativity celebration, from the eerie and haunting to the danceable and to the pastoral. There are songs for deep silence and songs for great joy, but all are songs that aren’t heard often enough in this holy winter season — a broad array of songs that go beyond the holly-jolly spirit to the holy core of the Christian season.

Ponder Nothing Earthly-Minded

The first category is filled with eerie songs — Christmas music with a dark and profound undertone, the kind that can cause a chill to run down your spine even as you pause in wonder. More meditative hymns than jolly carols, these will appeal if you love the spare and stately nature of songs like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

 ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’

There is, as we know from Ecclesiastes, a time for everything. Many songs in this season of the year call for singing, for making a joyful noise unto the Lord, but this Advent hymn echoes the call to worship in Habakkuk 2:20, “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The opening verse makes no bones about calling the singer to a posture of worship for a holy God:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;

Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in his Hand

Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

The verses go on to meditate on Christ the “King of Kings, yet born of Mary…Lord of Lords, in human vesture, in the body and the blood.” As the hymn swells into its concluding verses, it calls up visions of an angelic army:

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,

As the Light of Light descendeth from the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

Its final line closes with the cherubim and seraphim in a rapturous call of alleluia.

The text is a version of the 5th century “Cherubic Hymn,” an offertory prayer used in the Greek Liturgy of St. James. Some sources have suggested it may date back to 275 AD, if not earlier. The Hymns and Carols of Christmas, an excellent online resource for church music fans, recounts that early Christian churches sang arrangements of it in Syriac before it was translated into Greek.

In most modern churches, the hymn is set to a 17th-century French folk tune called “Picardy,” using an English text translated out of the Greek in 1846. Early twentieth-century church musician Ralph Vaughn Williams is responsible for the now-common arrangements seen in the English Hymnal, which produce a majestic result.

‘Gabriel’s Message’ | ‘The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came’ | Basque Carol

Frequently called by its first line, or known simply as the “Basque Carol,” “Gabriel’s Message” is, like many good Christmas and Advent songs, based on an anonymous 13th or 14th century Latin text, Angelus ad Virginem. It describes in vivid color the moment of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary that she would bear the Christ, the Son of God.

Sharing in the theme of haunting beauty, it includes one of the most evocative descriptions of an angel in hymnody:

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame.

No baby cherub is this angel, but a heavenly messenger worthy of inspiring fear and trembling. Throughout, the song also magnifies the role of Mary with a refrain at the end of every verse.

As the second verse reads:

For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,

All generations laud and honor thee,

Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold

Most highly favored lady — Gloria!

The song’s refrain echoes the King James Bible quite closely, in which Gabriel tells Mary she has “found favor with God.” Elizabeth also exclaims to her cousin, “Blessed art thou among women!” As the biblical text takes the time to magnify Mary’s part in the Christmas miracle, so too should we.

The carol also captures a lovely, condensed version of the Magnificat at its end:

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head

To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,

‘My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.’

Most highly favored lady — Gloria!

‘Bethlehem Down’

Composed as a choral anthem or carol, this cold, sparkling tune can also be easily sung as a simple, unharmonized melody. One of the most modern offerings on this list, it was composed in 1927 by the eccentric Anglo-Welsh composer Peter Warlock, who set to music a text written by his friend, poet Bruce Blunt.

For such an elegant hymn, however, it has slightly undignified origins. Warlock and Blunt once suggested they’d penned it to finance what they called an “immortal carouse” — that is, a round of overzealous partying on Christmas Eve. They submitted the resulting work to The Daily Telegraph’s annual Christmas carol contest, which they won.

The song’s British origins make it more common in the Anglican Church, but it deserves a place on this side of the pond — or frankly, on every side of any pond. The hymn sets a pastoral nativity scene with a grand sweep and a long view of both its earthly and heavenly consequences. In the first verse, Mary’s voice looks ahead to the full purpose of her son’s life:

When He is King, we will give him the King’s gifts,

Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,

Beautiful robes, said the young girl to Joseph,

Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

The second verse speaks of the songs of a shepherd while the baby lies sleeping. In the middle of this tranquil night scene, it intones the truth that Mary does not yet understand about her son’s coming reign:

When He is King, they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,

Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,

He that lies now in the white arms of Mary

Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

A Call to Dance

The second category is what I’ll call medieval dances — uptempo, delicate, sprightly carols for a joyous Christmastide. There are so very many of these to choose from, and they deserve more play than they often get.

‘Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day’

The words of this merry carol don’t readily identify it as an Advent hymn. Absent are references to camels and angels. It sounds like a jaunty medieval love song — largely because, in a sense, it is.

The carol is sung throughout from the first-person perspective of the infant Jesus, who begins by looking forward to his Incarnation, which will eventually deliver to him his “true love,” the church. The imagery of the church as the beloved bride of Christ, and the end of history as a joyful wedding feast, has endured since the writing of the Christian scriptures, becoming especially popular during much of the middle ages.

In this tune, the Christ-child sings with joy:

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;

I would my true love did so chance

To see the legend of my play,

To call my true love to my dance;

{Chorus}

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,

This have I done for my true love!

The present tune appears to date to the 19th century, but the text is older — possibly much older. The first published edition of the carol, with text and music, appears in an 1833 collection of “Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern,” but it may well date to medieval times. According to “The Hymns and Carols of Christmas,” “Dancing Day” has “close parallels with a number of 15th-century carols in which the infant foretells his future to his mother.

The line “to see the legend of my play” suggests it may have originally been part of a medieval mystery play, in the same way as the Coventry Carol was, but perhaps, in this case, part of one of the three-day religious plays performed in the Cornish language in the 14th and 15th century.

Whenever it originated, it’s great fun to sing. The metaphor for the Christ and the church as a union of marital love is striking to modern ears, and the snappy tune conveys the great joy of this holy wedding dance. It also allows one to merrily trill a line about the baby Jesus lying in a manger “betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass,” which I have always found to be distinctly charming.

 ‘Noël Nouvelet’

We’re relatively used to Christmas hymns appearing wholly or partially in Latin, but this one is particularly winsome in its original French. “Noël Nouvelet” translates to new Christmas, more or less. “Noël” is based on the Latin natus, meaning “born,” so in a way, the entire title and first line of this hymn are a double play on themes of newness and birth. Technically speaking, it was intended as a New Year’s carol, for use during the 12 liturgical days of Christmas.

This one falls solidly into the realm of early music carols. The tune is usually credited as traditional French, and versions of it date back to the 15th century. Many versions and variations exist, often inconsistent with one another, in the manner of a vernacular song. It appears in a large collection of French carols in 1721, and English translations or partial translations appear as early as the 17th century.

The version featured in the playlist is in French, but the usual English rendering of the first verse is as follows:

Noël nouvelet, sing we a new Noël;

Thank we now our God, and of His goodness tell;

Sing we Noël to greet the new born King;

Noël nouvelet, a new Noël we sing!

The tune is also used for the Easter hymn “Welcome, Happy Morning” and some listeners find it has sonic similarities to the increasingly popular Spanish Christmas carol “Riu, Riu Chiu,” as well.

‘Personet, Hodie’ | ‘On This Day Earth Shall Ring’

This hymn appears in both Latin and English versions, and both are thoroughly delightful to sing. The usual text and words used today come from the Piae Cantiones, a medieval song treasury assembled in Scandinavia in 1582.

A deeper dive reveals the Latin text to date sometime from the 12th century, and the German tune from about the 14th century — possibly the year 1360. It has been beloved by many generations of Christians but appears on far too few holiday albums in our era.

In either language, this energetic carol makes use of repeated words and syllables, bouncing through a rousing refrain at the end of every verse. It is also often used at Epiphany, the liturgical season coming immediately after Christmas, during which the church traditionally commemorates the arrival of the three wise men from the East and other events intervening between the birth of Jesus and the start of his ministry:

On this day earth shall ring

with the song children sing

to the Lord, Christ our King,

born on earth to save us;

him the Father gave us.

{Refrain}

Id-e-o-o-o, id-e-o-o-o,

Id-e-o gloria in excelsis Deo!

The Latin ideo used in the English translation means “therefore,” making the refrain “Therefore, glory to God in the highest.” Unreservedly joyous, the second verse proclaims:

His the doom, ours the mirth;

when he came down to earth […]

Id-e-o gloria in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds in Flow’ry Fields

The third category assembles a selection of beautiful carols that evoke classic peaceful images of Christmas — that is, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. These songs make much of weather and atmosphere, evoking powerful imagery of the natural world just as the Lord came down to take on fleshly form. Melodic and gentle, they may appeal to listeners who favor classics like “Away in a Manger” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’

This beautiful carol is similar in theme to “Angels We Have Heard on High” and can be sung to the same tune, but whereas that one is recorded and sung all the time, this one is criminally underutilized. It also features some lovely unique verses, framed by a repeated call to worship.

The first verse sets the scene and introduces the chorus:

Angels from the realms of glory,

Wing your flight o’er all the earth,

Ye who sang creation’s story,

Now proclaim the Messiah’s birth;

{Chorus}

Come and worship,

Worship Christ, the new-born King.

The words were penned by James Montgomery in 1816. It can be sung to a variety of melodies, but suits best the tune “Regent Square,” by one Henry Thomas Smart — elegant in its simplicity — although so sadly rare among decent recordings that I have had to include an instrumental version.

Once again, the later verses of the hymn bid the singer or the hearer come into a new appreciation of Christmas and its profound meaning, as they bid:

Sages, leave your contemplations,

Brighter visions beam afar,

Seek the great Desire of Nations;

Ye have seen his natal star.

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’

If you’re looking for a rich, stoic hymn, then this one with a distinctly un-jolly title delivers. It isn’t actually bleak — it just presumes the traditional (if historically inaccurate) midwinter setting for Christ’s birth. In this manner, it echoes common themes of the Advent season, as light and hope break into a season of waiting and darkness.

As a complete composition, “In the Bleak Midwinter” owes its existence to two famous names and one man who came to almost regret it as his one-hit-wonder.

The text is by English poet Christina Rossetti. It was first published under the simple title “A Christmas Carol” in Scribner’s Monthly in January 1872, and it first appeared in book form in her 1875 poetry collection “Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems.” The poem first appeared in “The English Hymnal” in 1906, set to a tune by classical composer Gustav Holst.

Harold Darke, an English organist and composer, is responsible for arranging the most common choral version of the tune in 1911. Beloved in its native country, it is a staple of King’s College Choir’s famous annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is broadcast throughout the world each Christmas Eve.

In 2008, a British poll named “In the Bleak Midwinter” the best Christmas carol. Darke came to both love and regret his setting of the piece, feeling many musicians forgot entirely about the rest of his many choral compositions.

It is altogether tranquil, poignant, and lovely. The first verse sets the scene:

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

The second verse enriches the narrative, subtly blending the majesty and humility of the Incarnation:

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign:

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty,

Jesus Christ.

‘Whence is that Goodly Fragrance’

We’ll travel back to France again for this next tune. The English version is a simple translation of a 17th-century French traditional carol “Quelle est Cette Odeur Agreable.” It’s typically set to a tune first composed by John Gay, for his 1778 Beggars Opera.

Charming in either language, the text poetically compares Christ to a beautiful fragrance, bringing beauty and enchanting the senses with a joy not of this earth. The first verse in English reads:

Whence is the goodly fragrance flowing,

Stealing our senses all away,

never the like did come a-blowing,

Shepherds, in flow’ry fields of May;

Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing,

Stealing our senses all away?

The second verse borrows a more familiar Advent image, asking:

What is that light so brilliant, breaking

Here in the night across our eyes?”

The third verse answers the rhetorical questions. Naturally, both the light and the fragrance are found “in manger lying.”

New Songs for an Old Season

I hope this small selection of lesser-known hymns and carols may brighten your season. May they bring joy and awe, solace and peace, contemplation and wonder. May they also encourage you to seek beyond the beaten path, across the centuries, all the way through the wide and wonderful world that is Christmas music.

It’s time for Christmas music! Technically, of course, if you’re traditional about these things, it’s time for Advent music. Advent is the beautiful four-week season that precedes Christmas, a time of waiting in darkness for the light of Christ to dawn. During this tumultuous year of 2020, the season of Advent, and all that comes with it, has much to say to worshippers (read an essay I wrote on Advent and the hymns and carols particular to that season here).

Today we must admit that Advent and Christmas are often somewhat jumbled in our minds. In this year of unique trials and tribulations especially, many of us may feel, alongside Mame, that we “need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

The trouble with Christmas fare on the radio, and with many commercial Christmas albums, is that they often repeat the same stable of songs, leaving out dozens of musical gems that have much to offer — musically, lyrically, emotionally, and theologically. To help inject some fresh wonder into your holiday season, here is a list of lesser-known hymns and carols that pertain to both Christmas and Advent.

The playlist takes a tour through the many moods and categories of the nativity celebration, from the eerie and haunting to the danceable and to the pastoral. There are songs for deep silence and songs for great joy, but all are songs that aren’t heard often enough in this holy winter season — a broad array of songs that go beyond the holly-jolly spirit to the holy core of the Christian season.

Ponder Nothing Earthly-Minded

The first category is filled with eerie songs — Christmas music with a dark and profound undertone, the kind that can cause a chill to run down your spine even as you pause in wonder. More meditative hymns than jolly carols, these will appeal if you love the spare and stately nature of songs like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

 ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’

There is, as we know from Ecclesiastes, a time for everything. Many songs in this season of the year call for singing, for making a joyful noise unto the Lord, but this Advent hymn echoes the call to worship in Habakkuk 2:20, “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The opening verse makes no bones about calling the singer to a posture of worship for a holy God:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;

Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in his Hand

Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.

The verses go on to meditate on Christ the “King of Kings, yet born of Mary…Lord of Lords, in human vesture, in the body and the blood.” As the hymn swells into its concluding verses, it calls up visions of an angelic army:

Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way,

As the Light of Light descendeth from the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away.

Its final line closes with the cherubim and seraphim in a rapturous call of alleluia.

The text is a version of the 5th century “Cherubic Hymn,” an offertory prayer used in the Greek Liturgy of St. James. Some sources have suggested it may date back to 275 AD, if not earlier. The Hymns and Carols of Christmas, an excellent online resource for church music fans, recounts that early Christian churches sang arrangements of it in Syriac before it was translated into Greek.

In most modern churches, the hymn is set to a 17th-century French folk tune called “Picardy,” using an English text translated out of the Greek in 1846. Early twentieth-century church musician Ralph Vaughn Williams is responsible for the now-common arrangements seen in the English Hymnal, which produce a majestic result.

‘Gabriel’s Message’ | ‘The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came’ | Basque Carol

Frequently called by its first line, or known simply as the “Basque Carol,” “Gabriel’s Message” is, like many good Christmas and Advent songs, based on an anonymous 13th or 14th century Latin text, Angelus ad Virginem. It describes in vivid color the moment of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary that she would bear the Christ, the Son of God.

Sharing in the theme of haunting beauty, it includes one of the most evocative descriptions of an angel in hymnody:

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame.

No baby cherub is this angel, but a heavenly messenger worthy of inspiring fear and trembling. Throughout, the song also magnifies the role of Mary with a refrain at the end of every verse.

As the second verse reads:

For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,

All generations laud and honor thee,

Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold

Most highly favored lady — Gloria!

The song’s refrain echoes the King James Bible quite closely, in which Gabriel tells Mary she has “found favor with God.” Elizabeth also exclaims to her cousin, “Blessed art thou among women!” As the biblical text takes the time to magnify Mary’s part in the Christmas miracle, so too should we.

The carol also captures a lovely, condensed version of the Magnificat at its end:

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head

To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,

‘My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.’

Most highly favored lady — Gloria!

‘Bethlehem Down’

Composed as a choral anthem or carol, this cold, sparkling tune can also be easily sung as a simple, unharmonized melody. One of the most modern offerings on this list, it was composed in 1927 by the eccentric Anglo-Welsh composer Peter Warlock, who set to music a text written by his friend, poet Bruce Blunt.

For such an elegant hymn, however, it has slightly undignified origins. Warlock and Blunt once suggested they’d penned it to finance what they called an “immortal carouse” — that is, a round of overzealous partying on Christmas Eve. They submitted the resulting work to The Daily Telegraph’s annual Christmas carol contest, which they won.

The song’s British origins make it more common in the Anglican Church, but it deserves a place on this side of the pond — or frankly, on every side of any pond. The hymn sets a pastoral nativity scene with a grand sweep and a long view of both its earthly and heavenly consequences. In the first verse, Mary’s voice looks ahead to the full purpose of her son’s life:

When He is King, we will give him the King’s gifts,

Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,

Beautiful robes, said the young girl to Joseph,

Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

The second verse speaks of the songs of a shepherd while the baby lies sleeping. In the middle of this tranquil night scene, it intones the truth that Mary does not yet understand about her son’s coming reign:

When He is King, they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,

Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,

He that lies now in the white arms of Mary

Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

A Call to Dance

The second category is what I’ll call medieval dances — uptempo, delicate, sprightly carols for a joyous Christmastide. There are so very many of these to choose from, and they deserve more play than they often get.

‘Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day’

The words of this merry carol don’t readily identify it as an Advent hymn. Absent are references to camels and angels. It sounds like a jaunty medieval love song — largely because, in a sense, it is.

The carol is sung throughout from the first-person perspective of the infant Jesus, who begins by looking forward to his Incarnation, which will eventually deliver to him his “true love,” the church. The imagery of the church as the beloved bride of Christ, and the end of history as a joyful wedding feast, has endured since the writing of the Christian scriptures, becoming especially popular during much of the middle ages.

In this tune, the Christ-child sings with joy:

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;

I would my true love did so chance

To see the legend of my play,

To call my true love to my dance;

{Chorus}

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,

This have I done for my true love!

The present tune appears to date to the 19th century, but the text is older — possibly much older. The first published edition of the carol, with text and music, appears in an 1833 collection of “Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern,” but it may well date to medieval times. According to “The Hymns and Carols of Christmas,” “Dancing Day” has “close parallels with a number of 15th-century carols in which the infant foretells his future to his mother.

The line “to see the legend of my play” suggests it may have originally been part of a medieval mystery play, in the same way as the Coventry Carol was, but perhaps, in this case, part of one of the three-day religious plays performed in the Cornish language in the 14th and 15th century.

Whenever it originated, it’s great fun to sing. The metaphor for the Christ and the church as a union of marital love is striking to modern ears, and the snappy tune conveys the great joy of this holy wedding dance. It also allows one to merrily trill a line about the baby Jesus lying in a manger “betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass,” which I have always found to be distinctly charming.

 ‘Noël Nouvelet’

We’re relatively used to Christmas hymns appearing wholly or partially in Latin, but this one is particularly winsome in its original French. “Noël Nouvelet” translates to new Christmas, more or less. “Noël” is based on the Latin natus, meaning “born,” so in a way, the entire title and first line of this hymn are a double play on themes of newness and birth. Technically speaking, it was intended as a New Year’s carol, for use during the 12 liturgical days of Christmas.

This one falls solidly into the realm of early music carols. The tune is usually credited as traditional French, and versions of it date back to the 15th century. Many versions and variations exist, often inconsistent with one another, in the manner of a vernacular song. It appears in a large collection of French carols in 1721, and English translations or partial translations appear as early as the 17th century.

The version featured in the playlist is in French, but the usual English rendering of the first verse is as follows:

Noël nouvelet, sing we a new Noël;

Thank we now our God, and of His goodness tell;

Sing we Noël to greet the new born King;

Noël nouvelet, a new Noël we sing!

The tune is also used for the Easter hymn “Welcome, Happy Morning” and some listeners find it has sonic similarities to the increasingly popular Spanish Christmas carol “Riu, Riu Chiu,” as well.

‘Personet, Hodie’ | ‘On This Day Earth Shall Ring’

This hymn appears in both Latin and English versions, and both are thoroughly delightful to sing. The usual text and words used today come from the Piae Cantiones, a medieval song treasury assembled in Scandinavia in 1582.

A deeper dive reveals the Latin text to date sometime from the 12th century, and the German tune from about the 14th century — possibly the year 1360. It has been beloved by many generations of Christians but appears on far too few holiday albums in our era.

In either language, this energetic carol makes use of repeated words and syllables, bouncing through a rousing refrain at the end of every verse. It is also often used at Epiphany, the liturgical season coming immediately after Christmas, during which the church traditionally commemorates the arrival of the three wise men from the East and other events intervening between the birth of Jesus and the start of his ministry:

On this day earth shall ring

with the song children sing

to the Lord, Christ our King,

born on earth to save us;

him the Father gave us.

{Refrain}

Id-e-o-o-o, id-e-o-o-o,

Id-e-o gloria in excelsis Deo!

The Latin ideo used in the English translation means “therefore,” making the refrain “Therefore, glory to God in the highest.” Unreservedly joyous, the second verse proclaims:

His the doom, ours the mirth;

when he came down to earth […]

Id-e-o gloria in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds in Flow’ry Fields

The third category assembles a selection of beautiful carols that evoke classic peaceful images of Christmas — that is, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. These songs make much of weather and atmosphere, evoking powerful imagery of the natural world just as the Lord came down to take on fleshly form. Melodic and gentle, they may appeal to listeners who favor classics like “Away in a Manger” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

‘Angels from the Realms of Glory’

This beautiful carol is similar in theme to “Angels We Have Heard on High” and can be sung to the same tune, but whereas that one is recorded and sung all the time, this one is criminally underutilized. It also features some lovely unique verses, framed by a repeated call to worship.

The first verse sets the scene and introduces the chorus:

Angels from the realms of glory,

Wing your flight o’er all the earth,

Ye who sang creation’s story,

Now proclaim the Messiah’s birth;

{Chorus}

Come and worship,

Worship Christ, the new-born King.

The words were penned by James Montgomery in 1816. It can be sung to a variety of melodies, but suits best the tune “Regent Square,” by one Henry Thomas Smart — elegant in its simplicity — although so sadly rare among decent recordings that I have had to include an instrumental version.

Once again, the later verses of the hymn bid the singer or the hearer come into a new appreciation of Christmas and its profound meaning, as they bid:

Sages, leave your contemplations,

Brighter visions beam afar,

Seek the great Desire of Nations;

Ye have seen his natal star.

‘In the Bleak Midwinter’

If you’re looking for a rich, stoic hymn, then this one with a distinctly un-jolly title delivers. It isn’t actually bleak — it just presumes the traditional (if historically inaccurate) midwinter setting for Christ’s birth. In this manner, it echoes common themes of the Advent season, as light and hope break into a season of waiting and darkness.

As a complete composition, “In the Bleak Midwinter” owes its existence to two famous names and one man who came to almost regret it as his one-hit-wonder.

The text is by English poet Christina Rossetti. It was first published under the simple title “A Christmas Carol” in Scribner’s Monthly in January 1872, and it first appeared in book form in her 1875 poetry collection “Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems.” The poem first appeared in “The English Hymnal” in 1906, set to a tune by classical composer Gustav Holst.

Harold Darke, an English organist and composer, is responsible for arranging the most common choral version of the tune in 1911. Beloved in its native country, it is a staple of King’s College Choir’s famous annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, which is broadcast throughout the world each Christmas Eve.

In 2008, a British poll named “In the Bleak Midwinter” the best Christmas carol. Darke came to both love and regret his setting of the piece, feeling many musicians forgot entirely about the rest of his many choral compositions.

It is altogether tranquil, poignant, and lovely. The first verse sets the scene:

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

The second verse enriches the narrative, subtly blending the majesty and humility of the Incarnation:

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign:

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty,

Jesus Christ.

‘Whence is that Goodly Fragrance’

We’ll travel back to France again for this next tune. The English version is a simple translation of a 17th-century French traditional carol “Quelle est Cette Odeur Agreable.” It’s typically set to a tune first composed by John Gay, for his 1778 Beggars Opera.

Charming in either language, the text poetically compares Christ to a beautiful fragrance, bringing beauty and enchanting the senses with a joy not of this earth. The first verse in English reads:

Whence is the goodly fragrance flowing,

Stealing our senses all away,

never the like did come a-blowing,

Shepherds, in flow’ry fields of May;

Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing,

Stealing our senses all away?

The second verse borrows a more familiar Advent image, asking:

What is that light so brilliant, breaking

Here in the night across our eyes?”

The third verse answers the rhetorical questions. Naturally, both the light and the fragrance are found “in manger lying.”

New Songs for an Old Season

I hope this small selection of lesser-known hymns and carols may brighten your season. May they bring joy and awe, solace and peace, contemplation and wonder. May they also encourage you to seek beyond the beaten path, across the centuries, all the way through the wide and wonderful world that is Christmas music.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/12/14/this-collection-of-deep-cut-carols-will-help-prepare-your-heart-for-christmas/

Don’t Wait For Joy

God’s promises aren’t just for “someday.”

BY CHARITY SINGLETON CRAIG

 

It’s funny how happy I feel about spring,” I said to my husband, who’d joined me on the patio. It was an ordinary day in May. Our tulip poplar shaded me with its new leaves, and birds chirped and whistled from its tangled branches. A warm breeze rustled the fabric of the patio umbrella, and I felt the full force of joy bolstering my spirit.

We weren’t doing anything special. In fact, it was a Friday afternoon following a particularly busy week, and I was outside reading. I should have been pulling the mass of weeds in the flowerbeds or mowing the towering grass we couldn’t keep up with in the unseasonably wet month we were having. But for the moment, the sun was shining, the air was warm and dry, and all felt right with the world.

“Our tulip poplar shaded me with its new leaves, and birds chirped and whistled from its tangled branches.”

 

“I think it’s because winter seemed to last forever,” Steve said, lying back in the reclining chair next to mine. We sat there quietly for several minutes, letting the delight of spring dull the memories of a particularly harsh season: the polar vortex that froze our water pipes, one son’s frustrating struggle with Spanish class, my extended bout of the flu, and the ongoing reality of aging—both our own and our parents’.

Finally, with one last gulp of sweet spring air—surely the neighbor’s lilacs were blooming—we headed off into the busyness of another weekend.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus talks about joy in much the same way we experienced that evening: the result of waiting for and finding the things we deeply desire after a period of struggle. In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd is thrilled when he finds the one and can return to the 99 (Luke 15:1-7). In the parable of the hidden treasure, joy propels the man not only to receive the treasure, but also to buy the field it’s buried in (Matt. 13:44). The woman who loses a coin searches until she finds it again. Then, not only is she filled with happiness, but she also invites her neighbors to rejoice with her (Luke 15:8-10). Each parable points to the future and to the wonder and exhilaration we’ll experience when the kingdom is at last fulfilled. These stories point to sinners repenting, God’s purposes being accomplished, and Christ, our true treasure, being revealed at last. What joy there will be when God’s kingdom comes!

These stories point to sinners repenting, God’s purposes being accomplished, and Christ, our true treasure, being revealed at last.

It’s like a long-term annuity, something I learned about recently when I helped a relative plan for retirement. Annuities are a type of insurance policy that allows for tax-deferred savings, and specifically with the long-term ones, a person makes a significant up-front investment for a big payoff down the line. Often we see joy this way: a future payout in heaven after a lifetime of adversity. Particularly as we enter the season of Advent, this cycle of suffering, waiting, and joy seems embedded in God’s plan for redemption: first, when Jesus came as a baby, and ultimately when He comes again. We sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come,” even as we look toward our future joy when the Lord will return.

But joy doesn’t point us only to the future. In my research, I also learned about income annuities. In this case, the investment is the same, but the payout can begin immediately, with periodic payments along the way rather than one lump sum at the end. When I compared the two options, the latter brought not only the quicker return but, in my relative’s case, also the greater. I think this is how joy is supposed to work, too.

During the Last Supper, the Lord tells His disciples this story: “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21 NIV). In one sense, Jesus seems to be saying that future joy makes present suffering worth it. Suffer through the pain of pregnancy and labor, and you’ll gain a baby to love. Or even endure winter, and spring will be waiting for you. Or invest your money wisely, and one day you’ll receive a profit.

But Jesus, more than anyone, understands that life doesn’t always work out so neatly here on earth. Sometimes, even the best investors lose everything in a crash. Occasionally cold, wet springs, like the one we ended up having, offer little relief from the ravages of winter. And all too often pregnancies end in miscarriages or stillbirths, with a mother’s (and father’s) anguish even greater at the end than the beginning. Yes, the coming kingdom will offer that linear joy following directly after suffering, but Jesus isn’t asking us just to grin and bear it here on earth until He returns. Rather, He’s giving us a vision of future joy that makes present joy possible, despite our suffering and pain.

“They could live hopefully now ‘in the body’ as they were ‘being renewed day by day’—like a pregnant woman who experiences the thrill of her baby kicking.”

Jesus shared this parable of childbirth the night before He was arrested, as He talked about His own death and resurrection. He’d raised the topic often enough that the disciples were starting to believe Him. He knew they were shaken by the death threats and attempted arrests. But He wanted them to understand that all the things they were—and would be—enduring were actually producing something greater, both now and in the future.

It’s like what the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (NIV, emphasis added). That meant the disciples didn’t need to simply survive the days at hand, letting their “light and momentary troubles” achieve only some future glory (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV). They could live hopefully, confidently, even happily now “in the body” as they were “being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV)—like a pregnant woman who experiences the thrill of her baby kicking. Or like my husband and me keeping track of the growing hours of daylight in the darkness of winter. Or like Jesus Himself, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).

But joy isn’t ours to relish alone. In 1 Thessalonians 2:20, Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians they are his “glory and joy,” and the reason he endured imprisonment, shipwreck, torture, and scorn. Kingdom joy is others-focused. It’s at the heart of brotherly love (Rom. 12:10). It’s the secret to rejoicing with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15). It’s why John wrote in his third epistle, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

It’s also why, on that ordinary day in May, I didn’t realize how much I was enjoying a quiet moment of spring weather until my husband came to share it with me. It wasn’t just that we’d endured the long winter; we’d endured it together. And now, the delight was ours to share together, too. The same is true for all of us in God’s kingdom. Even during the long, cold months of tragedy, difficulty, and suffering, we can await Christ’s return with hope, confidence, and—most of all—joy.

 

Illustrations by Adam Cruft

https://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/margin-notes/dont-wait-for-joy

When Joy Feels Far Away

 

by Scott Hubbard Editor, desiringGod.org

What do you do when you have tried everything, but joy still feels far away?

You have read your Bible — silently and aloud, five verses at a time, even whole books at a time. You have pasted promises on notecards, and whiteboards, and on the back of your hand. You have gathered with God’s people, unburdened yourself to friends, searched for unrepentant sin. You have prayed — oh, have you prayed — by yourself and with others, in your room and on long walks. Perhaps, in desperation, you have gone on spiritual retreats, fasted for extended periods, heeded impressions you thought might be from God.

But still, darkness. Silence. Doubt.

Does he hear me? Does he know me? Is he there? Am I his?

Simple Reminders

Sometimes, when joy feels far away, we need to hear some simple reminders.

By simple reminders, I do not mean simplistic solutions. You may have heard your fair share of those by now — counsel from people who, though well-intentioned, assume the problem is not that bad, the solution not that difficult. “Just do x,” they say. If they only knew.

“Seasons of darkness are normal for God’s people.

The Bible never hands us such simplistic solutions. It does, however, remind us again and again of simple truths we are prone to forget. Such truths may not lift the darkness. But they may shine out to us like stars between the clouds, reminding us there is a world of light we cannot see, strengthening us to keep walking till dawn.

In Psalm 40, King David gives four simple reminders for those whose joy feels far away: Darkness is normal. God is near. Joy is coming. Hope in him.

Darkness Is Normal

David reminds us, first, that seasons of darkness are normal for God’s people. And seasons is the right word there. Psalm 40 does not describe an afternoon’s sadness, but rather a long and stubborn darkness.

Notice, for example, the length of David’s darkness. “I waited patiently for the Lord,” he begins (Psalm 40:1). We never learn how long David sat in the shadows. We know only that, for a time, he cried to the Lord and received in return that miserable word: wait.

Mark also the persistence of David’s darkness. At the midpoint of the psalm, David seems to have escaped “the pit of destruction” and “the miry bog” (Psalm 40:2). But then, unexpectedly, he falls back in (Psalm 40:11–13). His return to the pit almost undoes him: “My heart fails me” (Psalm 40:12).

Finally, observe the ongoing presence of David’s darkness. By the psalm’s end, David still finds himself engulfed in shadows. Instead of rejoicing, he laments: “I am poor and needy.” And instead of praising, he pleads: “Do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40:17).

David’s song of happiness lost, found, and lost again chastens our expectations for joy in this age. His experience, alongside that of so many others, reminds us that we must not grasp for heaven too soon. All things are not yet made new; all emotions are not yet whole; all joy is not yet ours. As long as we walk in a frail body, and carry within us a mortal enemy, our joy, though real, will be mixed with darkness.

The darkness, agonizing as it can feel, is a shared darkness. Shared with psalmists, prophets, and apostles. Shared with saints before us and beside us. And shared, of course, with our Savior. “We are not on an untrodden path,” C.S. Lewis reminds us. “Rather, on the main-road” (Letters to Malcolm, 44).

God Is Near

Black is not the only color on David’s paintbrush, however. This psalm, so full of melancholy, is nevertheless more than balanced by hope. Darkness is normal, yes. But God is near.

Even when David’s prayers seemed to sail unheard into the sky, they were in fact caught by the God who never left his side (Psalm 40:1). Even when David found himself in the pit again, God drew near to him with steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 40:11). Even when David felt poor and needy, his heart nearly failing him (Psalm 40:12), he could nevertheless say, “The Lord takes thought for me” (Psalm 40:17).

“All things are not yet made new; all emotions are not yet whole; all joy is not yet ours.”

“But if God is so near,” we might ask, “why is darkness normal?” Sometimes, of course, the darkness is our own fault, as David’s was, at least in part (Psalm 40:12). God has always been near, but we have walked into the pit ourselves. Often, however, God’s people sit in darkness through no fault of their own. And in those moments, we remember that the Lord who loves us — indeed, who has loved us unto death — has some purposes that can be fashioned only at midnight.

We need look no further than David’s greater Son, whose footsteps echo through this psalm (Psalm 40:6–8Hebrews 10:5–7). Compared to the darkness Jesus endured, David’s was just a passing shadow. No one was nearer to God than his own Son. Yet no one’s path was darker.

Resist judging God’s nearness to you by the brightness of your sky. If you belong to Jesus, you are not forsaken or forgotten; your Lord, infinite as he is, takes thought for you (Psalm 40:17).

Joy Is Coming

God’s nearness, then, does not mean we will never walk in darkness. It does mean, however, that darkness is never an end, but only ever a means: the tracks, not the station; the pathway home, not the fireside. In the darkness, God tunes the strings of our souls, readying them for the coming praise.

In God’s time, the joy that seemed so far away from David returned: “He drew me up . . . and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:2–3). The memory of joy lost and restored then emboldens him to pray at the end of the psalm, when joy has once again fled from him, “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’” (Psalm 40:16).

David’s confidence in the coming joy does not mean his darkness was not so deep after all; it means that joy, for those in Christ, is always deeper and surer than the darkness — everlastingly deeper, infinitely surer. You may not feel the truth of it right now. But can you, in hope against hope, imagine yourself singing again, laughing again, telling everyone who will listen, “Great is the Lord!”?

Lost joy need not stay lost. For those in Christ, it will not. Though your joy in Christ seems barely to flicker right now, it will one day burst back into full flame. Even if darkness lingers in great measure for the rest of your earthly pilgrimage, you will one day stand firmly on the rock, your feet no longer slipping; you will one day sing a new song, your mouth no longer sighing. However much darkness you face in this battle for joy in God, it is, as Samuel Rutherford puts it, “not worthy to be compared with our first night’s welcome home in heaven” (The Loveliness of Christ, 21). Fullness of joy is coming, Christian. Exceeding joy, everlasting joy, world without end.

Hope in Him

The promise of coming joy does not belong to all who walk in darkness, however. It belongs to those who, even in their darkness, never stop seeking God. Notice the qualifying phrase in David’s prayer: “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you” (Psalm 40:16). David’s last reminder, then, comes to us as an exhortation: hope in God.

“Wait, cling, pray, seek, and trust that your God will come.”

Keep waiting for your God, even when he tarries long. Keep clinging to his promises, even when it feels like he’s abandoned them. Keep crying out to him, even when you’re unsure he hears. Keep seeking his face, even when you want to least. Refuse the temptation, when you find yourself tired of waiting, to “go astray after a lie” (Psalm 40:4) — some refuge other than God that promises immediate relief. Wait, cling, pray, seek, and trust that your God will come.

Soon, darkness will not be normal, but nonexistent. God will not be merely near, but visible. Joy will not only be real, but full, and forever. As Thomas Kelly writes in “Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him,”

Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be,
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.

Joy in the Lord

August 19, 2019 by Jack Flacco

Take pleasure in the Lord and in all His deeds. He created all things for his glory. Give praise to His name on high, for He is great above all things and wonderfully gracious toward us. His mercy never fails.

“Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.” (Psalms 33:1, 21)

God’s love for us will endure forever. Through His son Christ Jesus, we have salvation. Through no other name will we rise again. He gives mercy to the merciful and honor to the humble. Our joy comes from loving Him with all our heart.

As many times as we feel alone, God will not leave us. As many times as we feel abandoned, God will not forsake us. His spirit lives in us and He will comfort us. His unceasing love will always warm our heart. Whatever we may be feeling, God is there, helping us along the way.

All glory belongs to God. Every word of worship belongs to Him. May our prayers be as sweet incense and fill the heavens with our heartfelt praise. May we reap joy and gladness with every word that we pray, for God is good and His goodness makes our soul glad.

Let us give thanks and praise, for this is true joy in the Lord.

Joy in the Lord

Joy In The Trials

August 2, 2019 by NATHAN MCBRIDE, Discerning Dad

There are few guarantees we can count being there to greet us every day. Few things we can wake up every morning and know without a doubt we will encounter them. God and His love for us is one. The second guarantee is trials. One removes anxiety, fear, and stress. The other adds anxiety, fear, and stress. What if in Gods infinite wisdom He gave us the tools to eliminate the anxiety, fear, and stress from trials? When Jesus faced the last hours and His greatest trial, he did it with grace, humility, joy and an understanding of Gods will.

How we as Christians encounter and endure trials is one of the center pieces that set us apart from the world. When we face the things that would break the world, and we move through them with Christ we are strengthened. We are drawn closer to our Lord and drawn closer in the relationships that Glorify Him. Fortunately, through His infinite wisdom he gave us the perfect road map to endure and grow through every trial.

James 1: 2-4 (NASB) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 8: 28 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Those two verses give us everything we need to encounter and endure trials the same way Jesus faced His. I have spent the past year focused heavily on those verses and facing trials with joy knowing that with an omniscient Father He is always building things to His glory and our benefit.

Trials have many forms. From the hard trials of losing a loved one, losing a job, depression or whatever you personally view as a hard trial, to trials of minor inconvenience, being late, cleanliness of a home, or an unexpected bill. Regardless of what the trial is we are taught to approach them the same. With Joy. Understanding that there is a purpose behind the trial for good is the key component to finding that joy amid the trial.

We have a few things to do to achieve this.

First, we need to make sure we are doing everything every day to a level that glorifies God. We need to submit to His sovereignty to work and move in our lives. By doing this we are allowing God to open and close doors as he sees fit. Basically, if you are giving a 100% to your job. You have given that to the Lord. You have submitted to His will and authority it. After that if you then lose your job you can know one thing in certainty. God has it and He is closing a door to move you where He needs you next. However, you can’t oversleep, not perform, blame it on the enemy and then say it’s God closing the door. Wrong you closed that door. That’s the first part, staying focused on doing all things to His Glory.

Secondly, we need to open our eyes. When we come into a trial, we need to see that there is a purpose for it. God is doing a work in us to bring out the good in it. How we see the trial changes the light we see it in. Trials can be for any purpose. They can be to show us something we need to give up and hand over to God such as an addiction. They can be to help us grow closer in those relationships that glorify Him. Psychologists have even proven that working through a hardship with someone is a key component to building a lasting bond in that relationship. So, trials with your spouse and children are a very good thing if you view it from that angle. They can be as simple as the enemy trying to deter, de-rail, or force you to question God. If that is it, you should see more joy in the trial as it’s a clear indicator to you moving down the right path.

Trials can protect us. Ever have those days where you just feel like you are perpetually running late. No matter what you do you can’t make up those 10 minutes you lost? You keep getting rerouted out of your plan for the day? Then at the end of the you drive by a fresh accident that if you would have been on schedule would be part of. Or you run into someone during the day that you get to help because you were 10 minutes behind. We don’t know Gods plan, but we do know He moves in our lives and while we play checkers, He’s playing chess.

Trials build testimony. As we go through trials and walk with Christ through them, we are building testimony to help others through similar trials. As we come along side one another in fellowship and life our testimony was perfectly built to help those we encounter. If you battled depression and gained control of it that testimony could be the very thing that saves another life. The difficulties and trials in your marriage will one day be something that could help save another marriage. Your financial trials and how you came out of that could be the very testimony of hope and grace that carries another through their trial.

So, the next time you encounter a trial remember, it’s for a perfect purpose, God is moving in it, and look forward to the beauty that will come as a result of the trial. There is either a reason for everything or a reason for nothing.

Father I pray that you help us see the joy and beauty in the trials we encounter each day. That we take them on with a new perspective and through that it removes the anxiety, fear, and stress we normally feel and replace them with joy and anticipation of good work you are doing through the trial. Amen.

Nathan McBride
Guest Discerning Dad

Guest- Nathan McBride- Joy in the Trials