Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Self Care

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

September 30, 2007, updated

Everyone is familiar with stress. Stress comes in various forms and degrees everyday. Some stress is good for us. When we experience great amounts of stress and our physical or mental functioning is affected that could be a problem.

Feeling like there are too many pressures and demands on you?

Losing sleep worrying about a project or task ahead of you? Eating on the run because your schedule is just too busy? You’re not alone; everyone experiences stress at times, – adults, teens and even kids. There are things we can do to reduce or manage stress.

When we feel “pumped” or “wired” or an increased amount of energy and alertness, this is a result of small doses of beneficial stress.

When the level of stress becomes too great for us to handle we can get “stressed out”, “burned out” or be at our “wits end”. That is when our physical well being could be compromised. We all handle stress differently and each has a different level of pressure we can safely handle. We must listen to our bodies. Symptoms that we feel may include: anxiousness, nervousness, distraction, excessive worry, or internal pressure.

Our outward appearance may start to change as we appear: unusually anxious or nervous, distracted, or self-absorbed.

If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time or the stress level increases we could experience: anxiety or panic attacks, a feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, and hurried, irritability and moodiness, allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma, problems sleeping, drinking, smoking or eating too much, doing drugs, excessive fatigue, depression, could even think of hurting yourself or others, headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains or pressure, racing heart, dizziness or flushing, tremulousness or restlessness, hyperventilate, or have a choking sensation, feeling of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness. If these symptoms persist or increase in severity or frequency seek medical help.

Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room if your stress results in any of the following symptoms: thoughts of harming yourself or others, chest pain, fluttering or rapid heartbeats, headaches unlike your usual headaches, or any condition that you feel might cause you serious harm if not treated immediately.

Pressures that that become too intense or last too long or troubles that are shouldered alone can cause stress overload. Some things that could overwhelm us are: being bullied or exposed to violence or injury, relationship stress, family conflicts or the heavy emotions that can accompany a broken heart or death of a loved one, ongoing problems with work or schoolwork related to a learning disability or other problems, such as ADHD (once the problem is recognized and the proper support is given this stress usually disappears), or crammed schedules – such as not having enough time to rest and relax.

With all the above you might get the idea that we cannot do it alone. We are not designed to run at high speed all the time. We were designed for fellowship and to live in a community. A very wise person taught me to use my words. When we feel something is wrong we need to use our words to share our feelings in a safe setting. When we hold all these things in we become like a pressure cooker without a safety release valve and we could explode or implode. Exploding could hurt others or things around us. Imploding could do grave us great physical harm.

Remember to take care, eat right, slowly enjoying your meal, do everything in moderation, regularly exercise and really relax and rest.

Professional help is available, if needed, to help get on or stay on the right track. It is your body, listen to it, treat it well and it will treat you well.

More information and workshops on mental health was available at the NAMI State Convention Oct 132007 at the Sheraton in Framingham hosted by NAMI Greater Framingham. Oct 7-13 2007 was Mental Health Awareness Week.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2007/10/06/stress-anxiety-depression-and-self-care/

Hands Held HIGH!

GOD’s intention, through His Son, Jesus, is to revert all men to the default position He created in them!

In Genesis 2:16, “the LORD GOD commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:’”


Can you see that man? Can you picture him every time he was hungry? He lifted himself and he lifted his hands to receive what GOD had provided. This was GOD’s default position for man! Can you see that man? He’s like the praying man, saved by grace, lifting his hands to GOD in prayer and thanksgiving

“And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD, your GOD, Who hath dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be ashamed.” Joel 2:26

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,” (Isaiah 32:17, 18)

The Psalms says: “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities,
Who healeth all thy diseases,
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction,
Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
(Psalms 103: 1 – 5)


Can you see him lifting his hands to GOD and being lifted by GOD, “so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s,”?

https://chomskyweb.wordpress.com/2021/04/21/hands-held-high/

Next Level Thinking

  • JANUARY 8, 2021 by PASTOR RAY PATRICK
When You Think of the Word Home, Does Jesus Come to Mind

As you look toward to the future, you may not see how you will ever rise higher or fulfil your destiny. This is because you are looking at things in the earthly, natural realm. But if we’ll set our minds higher, beyond where we are, if we’ll set our minds on things above, we will have a different perspective. 

Scripture says we walk by faith and not by sight. This means, we have to believe it before we’re ever going to see it. If we walk only by what we see in the natural realm, we can easily allow circumstances and fear to cripple us and keep us from moving forward. However, when we set our minds higher, we are walking by faith, and we can see things God’s way. 

Today, make the decision to set your mind on things above; a place of peace, joy, powerful spiritual energy, mansions, no sickness, no corruption and no death. Hallelujah! Oh yes focus on the good things God has in store. Be determined to close the door on fear and doubt, and choose to listen to that inner prompting of the Holy Spirit. Walk and live by faith and set your mind on higher things! 

“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2, NIV) 

Let’s Pray 

Yahweh, thank You for Your Word which lights up the path You have for me. Father, show me how to have a next level mindset, keeping my heart and mind focused on You. God, I choose to meditate on Your Word, knowing that it feeds my faith and sets me in a position to receive every blessing You have in store for me, now and in the future, in Jesus’ Name! Amen. 

Are you Seeking a personal revival? Join Ray Patrick live on zoom with Palmer’s Green & Holcombe road SDA churches tonight, sabbath 11:15am, Sunday, Wednesday, Friday @ 7:30pm for the 10 days of prayers. Topic: Seeking Revival 6th-16th Jan 2021 @7:30pm nightly (Wed,Fri,Sun) & Sabbaths @11:15am London Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85340866075?pwd=VTVvc1MyR28zZDgyVmJOMlFUcjZPdz09 Meeting ID: 853 4086 6075 Passcode: 486549

Published in Faith

https://godinterest.com/2021/01/08/next-level-thinking/

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/

Dancing with the Devil in the Latter Times

Sim Chen Xing December 2, 2019

When we pray for God’s kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, what do we pray for? Peace? Prosperity? The revival of the Christian church? Or the advent of the latter times — the impending judgement that must come as prophesied by countless prophets throughout Biblical history?

For me, I see the formation of a global polity. I see the rise of global powers coming together in the name of peace. I see a day when all nations will set aside their differences, put down their weapons of war, come together to tackle issues that can only be solved if humanity comes together as a collective.

Got to admit, though, that if the Bible claims that the impending judgement on the earth in the latter days will be the work of the devil, then I think that our job as believers is to dance alongside the devil and to rise above him. To do this, we’ll need to be conversant with Biblical prophecies (because it is the sequence of events that must happen) and be kept up-to-date with current affairs. Let no one trick you to think that there is no need to read beyond the Bible. It is in the middle of the war when we’ll need to be well-versed with Biblical prophecies and then be able to link modern happenings with what we know must happen.

Don’t be fooled. The devil knows better than we do about what must happen — and shudder. Daily, the devil live out the vision of being swallowed alive due to the decision that he’s made earlier before the formation of the universe. The devil knew everything that must happen. The devil knew everything that lies ahead of him. Faced with the prince of the power of the air, it is in our every intention to work alongside him and to realise the purpose that he was called to fulfil. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling us to stand alongside him, but to rise above him. If we understand that the devil’s purpose was predestined by God to be fulfilled on this earth, we will understand that any action against the devil will be an act against God.

Don’t misunderstand me. Dancing alongside the devil is not accepting all the workings of the devil in this world. Rather, we are called to understand the works of the devil and to rise above him. Look, if the Bible says that there will be a global leader in the future who will unite global powers and the global economy, then we will work alongside him to achieve it. But if the Bible says that the global leader will cause people to worship him, then we will need the wisdom to consider alternatives to it. We can run, but we can’t hide. He is, after all, the prince of the power of the air. If we know that all the nations will turn to God and this is also the purpose of the devil, then work alongside him and be advocates of the Truth. But if we also know that the devil will pervert this to his own advantage and cause the world to worship him as the Creator, then we will need to stand our ground, one way or another — either by going into hiding or divorcing ourselves from the global economy.

Whether or not we put our faith in God, all of these must happen. But as Christians, when we pray for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, then we must be prepared that we’re inviting the devil into our midst. Therefore, we are called to ready ourselves for the war that is ahead of us.

In the stillness of my meditations, I have listed down a few pointers for our consideration as we prepare for the arrival of the latter days.

  1. Do we know the prophecies in the Bible well enough that we can determine where we are on the Biblical calendar of end-time prophecies?
  2. Do we know how to recognise true news sources from fake ones? Are we able to take decisive steps to determine the level of truth of the articles we read?
  3. Are we grounded ethically to God’s original design? Or are we easily swayed by the waves of modern trends?
  4. Are we prepared to divorce ourselves from the economy for the sake of survival? Going into caves and relying on agriculture to stay alive? Or are we overly reliant on modern technologies for our survival?
  5. Is our definition of love, sin, and forgiveness, grounded on Biblical truth? Or are we overly legalistic, condemning every “sinner” that comes our way, forgetting that we are too, the needy sinner who has fallen short of the glory of God?

We are called to dance with the devil. But much more than that, we’re called to rise above him. We are not to be swayed by the waves of modern trends, but we are called to be rooted in our faith in Christ. Are we ready for the dance?

Image by Efes Kitap from Pixabay
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https://themanifoldwisdomofgod.wordpress.com/2019/12/02/dancing-with-the-devil-in-the-latter-times/


James 4:7 (NKJV)
7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.


The “A” Word

May 10, 2019 by Discerning Dad

 

 

Men…we were created in the image of God to be the covering for our families…the rock, the foundation, the supplier, the hunter/gatherer, the fix-it guy, the put-gas-in-my-car guy, the guy who has all the answers for our kids crazy questions….the guy who mows the lawn and pulls weeds.

Well darn…that’s a lot of responsibility.

But do we let our family see us sweat about it? Heck no. Instead, we bottle in our feelings, restrict our positive emotional output and kick the dog when we are frustrated. If the dog’s not available, we kick the wife and kids…. maybe not physically but certainly emotionally.

A man’s hidden paradigm – anxiety – we bury it deep inside and don’t let ANYONE in to see all of it…maybe glimpses, but that’s all. The American culture is to keep anxiety buried (or medicated) so it can’t be seen. I have been (and still sometimes am) that man. The problem is that anxiety isn’t just about being worried. As men we don’t stand around wringing our hands waiting for things to get better.

We usually look for some sort of outlet to divert the need to think about the things that cause us stress…. any distraction. It can be sports, obsessing over a hobby, or maybe burying ourselves in our job. These things are socially acceptable…and the church community generally doesn’t have an issue with either.

On the socially “unacceptable” end of the spectrum, anxiety can also be the conduit that leads to other issues. We were designed to be on this earth and walk in the power and authority of God, but we trade that power and authority for other things.

Fear, Anger, Lust, Control

These attributes can be manifest in many ways…. family abuse, substance abuse, pornography, affairs…. pick your poison. If you are doing something not honoring God, I guarantee you know it. We may be very good at hiding our sins, but we know the entire time, unequivocally, that it is sin. But is this how God instructs us to deal with stress?

So, what does the Word say about how to deal with anxiety?

Let’s look at a scripture that Paul wrote while sitting in an uncomfortable jail cell, probably hungry (hangry?) and thirsty and not knowing what his fate may be at the very next moment…. a perfectly good reason to be stressed out….and probably a bit agitated.

Phil 4: 4-9 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Okay men…let’s break this down.

1. Rejoice in the Lord always …I will say it again, REJOICE! – God is our #1 priority! You are NOT rejoicing in your circumstances…. you are rejoicing in who God is and that He is with you during your circumstances. If you place your problems and circumstances before God, they are an idol in your life.

2. Let your gentleness be evident to all. – RELAX…. This begins very close to you and your circle of influence. At home. With the kids. With your wife. With the dog. Alone in the car dealing with traffic. At work. In public. Stop being defensive. Don’t feel the need to prove you are right. Take a cue from Elsa…. LET IT GO.

3. The Lord is near. Duh…you know this…. or at least you should.

4. Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
a. Bring your situations to God – Pray immediately and let God know specifically what your worries are.
b. Be THANKFUL – THIS IS HUGE! Let God know how much you appreciate all He has done in your life!! Think about this…. How great do you feel when your kids show you appreciation and gratitude just for being Dad??

5. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
a. Our Promise from God for being obedient to verses 4-6!

6. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
a. Verses 8 & 9 are NECESSARY!
b. Whatever unnecessary things in life cause you anxiety cut them out…This is necessary and will require for you to do some soul searching. If our current political situation causes you stress, stop watching the news, cut out social media, stop letting people bait you into conversations that get you fired up. YOU know your triggers. Identify them and leave them alone. Think about things that are pleasing to God…. I don’t think our Savior cares too much about Russian collusion.

7. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
a. And the God of peace WILL be with you. Wow! Mic drop.

Prayer: Lord – In the midst of my problems I choose to focus on YOU!! Regardless of the difficulties my path may present, YOU are GOD and YOU are MIGHTY, and YOU are SOVERGN. I will trust in YOU and LEAN on YOU for all things in my life. LORD, THANK YOU for all that YOU are in my life, Thank YOU for my family, my existence and the opportunity to REJOICE in YOU. I give my worries to YOU and accept the PEACE that YOU promise in my life. I choose today to focus on YOU and the things that please YOU. LORD, make your path and will clear to me daily. In JESUS MIGHTY name! Amen!

Jordan Lynde
Guest Discerning Dad

 

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VIDEO Godly Christian Living in Evil Times

June 14, 2016 BY AMERICAN COUNCIL OF CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

 

Few will deny that we are living in evil times. The enemy has “come in like a flood.” Every perversion imaginable to sinful man is now promoted as “good” or “normal.” Basic standards of morality and decency, which once prevailed in the United States, now have been largely abandoned. Sadly, as our society’s culture has sunk further into the swamp of moral degeneracy, a love for the world has eroded the standards of many Christians, which were once grounded upon the teachings of God’s Word. Selections of music, entertainment, clothing, and other choices necessary to godly living have become more similar to and less distinct from those of the lusts of the world.  Many of God’s people lack a zeal for putting a cultural difference between the clean and the unclean (Lev. 20:22-26).

The true child of God must reject and resist such worldliness.  The Bible warns that the world in which we live is in an important sense the domain of the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). What God has ordained for life in this world, Satan has sought to corrupt.  For this reason, Paul warns in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

1 John 2:15-17 commands us to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”  To love the world in this sense is to fail to love the Father.  To conform to the cultural norms produced by this lack of love for the Father is to communicate a similar lack of love for Him.

Some justify a greater conformity to the world by divorcing what is in the heart of a Christian from his outward appearance and actions. God indeed told Samuel: “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). However, what is in the heart will always manifest itself outwardly. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil” (Luke 6:45). Paul is concerned with both the transformation of the mind and the consecration of the body to holiness (Rom. 12:2).  Matthew Henry, in commenting on the holy behavior of older Christian women in Titus 2:3, says that Christians should have “an inward principle and habit of holiness, influencing and ordering the outward conduct at all times.”

God has commanded us: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). The Scripture is clear about the fruit of true holiness in the child of God: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). This fruitful holiness produced by God’s Spirit is antithetical to worldliness, the works of a flesh that produces both sinful desires and a wicked walk (Gal. 5:16-21).  Cultural choices are included among the works of the flesh.  Any music, clothing, entertainment, speech, or other cultural choice promoting fruitful holiness must not be conformed to styles developed to promote the worldliness of 1 John 2:15-17. This mandate applies equally to our personal lives and our corporate worship.  Our love for the Father provides powerful motivation for careful conservatism that draws a clear line well-removed from the gray of compromise in this regard.

Therefore, the American Council of Christian Churches, at its 71st Annual Convention, October 23-25, 2012, in the Cedar View Independent Methodist Church, Kingsport, Tennessee, affirms the need for all Bible-believing churches and individual Christians to separate from conformity to the cultural norms produced by this world’s love for possessions, pleasures, and pride.  As children determined to love our heavenly Father faithfully, we commit ourselves to the promotion and practice of consistently conservative, godly Christian living, regulated by cultural standards that demonstrate the distinctiveness of our calling as pilgrims and strangers in a world ruled by “the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience.”  It is our desire that in every area of our lives, the change that has called us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” would be seen plainly by others in a way that will “glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:9-12).

Picture: https://pixabay.com/en/hills-flowering-desert-flowers-960106/

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Psalm 91:1-66

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, …


Derek Prince – Evil Forces At the End Time