I have chapel today at school. We’re going to sing Christmas carols with bible verses and me talking in between. Except that I have a cold, and I don’t have any confidence that I’ll be able to talk at all. So in tomorrow’s chapel the part of Lloyd Sommerer may very well be played by Joel Stoltenow. He has the part memorized, so, theoretically, I could just call in sick tomorrow.
WARNING: If you click on the play button below, it will download about 25MB of junk. You’ll have to wait for that to download before you can go to the next slide.
Here’s the text if anyone want’s to give their own chapel…
Please remain seated during the hymns today. I think standing while we sing is a great tradition, but we are going to be singing a lot today and I wouldn’t want you to get tired.
We make our beginning in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Oh Lord open our lips that our mouths may declare your praise.
Last year we sang quite a few Christmas Carols that I thought might be a little less familiar to you. This year we’ll be doing a few more of the old stand-bys. Most of the songs have been transposed down a whole step to make them easier to sing. If you don’t have perfect pitch, you can pretty much ignore that.
1. O Come All Ye Faithful (piano)
O Come All Ye Faithful is a very old song. It was originally written in Latin and about 250 years ago it was translated into English. Since that time there have been many versions and translations. The version of this song (and others that we sing today) might not be the version that you are familiar with. Sometimes I’ve picked modern versions and sometimes ancient ones. Don’t let that bother you. Just sing whatever version you want. No one will care.
Luke 2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
2. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (opening notes on piano)
Just like O Come All Ye Faithful, O Come, O Come Emmanuel was also originally sung in Latin. From this it is logical to assume that all Latin songs start out with “O Come.”
This song was originally a chant. Probably sung in the catacombs of Rome in the first few centuries after Christ was born. It’s fun to imagine it echoing down underground passages or through medieval cathedrals. To make it sound like a chant, all you have to do is sing each phrase all in one breath. Each phrase ends with a rest: here, here, here and here, so they are easy to find. A rest, for those of you who don’t know is just what it sounds like.
We’ll be singing this one A Cappella. That phrase is Italian for “In the manner of the church” but now-a-days we use it to denote singing without instruments.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
3. The Angel Gabriel (piano)
This carol is based on an old Basque carol. Basque is the area between Spain and France where they speak Basque (go figure). It was translated into English about 115 years ago by Sabine Gould, the same person who wrote Onward Christian Soldiers. Sabine had spent the winter in Basque lands as a boy and when he translated the song he gave it a very Victorian feel, “Wings as drifting snow and eyes as flame.” Beautiful. My wife (that is to say, Mr. Sommerer’s wife) really likes this one, but only when it’s sung quickly, so we’ll pick the pace up a little for this one.
Luke 1:26-28 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
4. People Look East (piano)
Of all the songs that we sang last Christmas, this one was Mrs. Kuhn’s favorite. It’s a pretty new song as far as these things go. It was written in 1928 by a children’s author, the same women who wrote Morning has Broken.
To really get a feeling for this song you have to look at the last line of each verse. Here Jesus is Love and each verse names Him in a different way. If you then look back at the start of each verse you can see that we are anticipating His coming in ways specific to those names.
This is an advent hymn, and it’s one of two that we’re singing today. I will make no apologies for singing Christmas hymns during the season of Advent. We only have one chapel during the season of Christmas anyway, and that’s not nearly enough.
Would you fold your hands, bow your heads, close your eyes and pray with me before the next song? This prayer will sound like the Common Table Prayer, but it’s not, so don’t get tricked into joining in.
Come, Lord Jesus, and be a guest in our hearts this Christmas as you were the guest in an innkeeper’s stable on that first Christmas.
Come, Lord Jesus, as the Messianic Rose long ago foretold by Isaiah. As the shoot that springs forth from the stump of Jesse, may we be branches of your true vine bringing forth good fruit.
Come, Lord Jesus, as a star to shine in our hearts so that we may shine forth to other, that they too may come to worship you.
Come, Lord Jesus, as the Lord of all, humble born for us. Amen
Mathew 2: 1-2 Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
5. I Wonder as I Wander (guitar)
This is one of the only songs that we’ll sing today that originated in America. It’s an old Appalachian song, but we don’t really know how old. It was first written down in 1933 when John Jacob Niles paid a little poverty stricken child twenty-five cents for each time that she would sing it to him. After eight times he had it.
This song might not be familiar to you, and to make matters worse, we’re not singing it in the key you see on the screen (that would just be way to high). So if you don’t know it and want to wait until the second verse to join in, that would be okay. We’re going to sing the first verse again at the end anyway, so you won’t miss anything.
It’s suppose to be sung Espressivo, but only Miss. Wisroth and Mr. Morris know what that means. You can think of it as hauntingly beautiful or forlorn.
Luke 2: 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night
6. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (piano)
This beautiful carol is from Poland. It was first translated into English around 1920, so it’s pretty new as well. The song is short and to the point, as is my introduction for it.
Luke 2: 12 This will be a sign unto you: You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger
7. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (piano)
There are some people who are offended when hymns and such use words like “men” to refer to everyone, to both men and women. It really bothers some people. It doesn’t bother me, but I’m a guy, so maybe I just don’t get it. I asked my wife what she thought and she said that she’s old school, and it didn’t bother her either.
But if it bothers you, Feel free to sing, “Pleased as man with us to dwell”. I hope you don’t use stuff like this as an excuse not to sing. And the same goes for those of you who like the original. I hope you don’t use that for an excuse not to sing when a more modern version is placed before you.
“Hark” means to listen. It’s short for “harken” (I’m sure that clears it right up). And many of you know that a Herald was the guy who made royal proclamations. So the first line here is really something like, “Listen, The King’s messenger is saying…”
Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Gloria in excélsis Deo Et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis. [Gloria een ex-chel-sees Dayoh. Eht enn terrah pahks hoe-mee-nee-buhs boe-nay vole-uhn-tah-tees] that is: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
8. Come, Your Hearts and Voices Raising (piano melody only)
This one was also originally sung in Latin. It was translated into German by Paul Gerhardt. There’s an actual festival day to celebrate Paul Gerhardt, the great Lutheran Hymn writer. It’s October 26th (5 days before reformation day) if you ever want to have a party for him. I mention that, because if we were to sing all 8 verses of this hymn, you would see a wonderful recounting of the entire gospel message, with the Christmas story woven throughout it. That’s a very Lutheran thing to do.
Luke 2: 10-11 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
9. Away in a Manger (guitar)
Last year before we sang this hymn I mentioned that even though Away in the Manger is sometimes called Luther’s Cradle Hymn, it wasn’t actually written by him (though he did write a number of hymns, including Christmas carols).
We now think that Away in a Manger was written in America, sometime before 1885. Many people consider it America’s favorite Christmas Carol.
There’s an odd thing about it though. People who are under 12 years old love to sing it. People over 16 years old like to sing it too, but there are a few years in there where it seems too childish to some people. I hope that it doesn’t seem that way to you. I hope that you always have faith like little children.
Luke 2:4-7 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
10. On Christmas Night all Christians Sing (piano melody only)
This song is also know as The Sussex Carol from the area of Southeast England where it is thought to have originated. I know it’s not the most familiar Christmas carol, but it’s an easy one to learn because the first line of each verse repeats. Besides, I like it, and so does Daniel Schaeffer.
Luke 2:20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
11. Joy to the World (piano)
I think of Joy to the World as the quintessential Christmas hymn.
But it has one line in it that maybe we should take a look at. In verse three it says, [sing-songy] “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.” that first part is easy enough, right? “He comes to make His blessings flow” But what does “Far as the curse is found” mean? Everywhere that sin is found. That is to say, Everywhere. “He comes to make his blessings flow everywhere”
At my church in Honey Creek, Missouri it would be the final song that we sang at the end of the service on Christmas morning. It’s joyous. It’s triumphant. It’s glorious.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
12. Silent Night (guitar)
But it’s not Christmas morning yet, and so we’ll finish up with a quiet little Christmas carol. I hope, that in the hustle and bustle that leads up to Christmas in our modern lives, you keep a quiet little place in your heart. A silent night in your heart for a baby born 2000 years ago to take away your sins.
Luke 2:16-19 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
< hr />
Oh, and it’s Lauren’s birthday today. Lauren, for your present, I made you a post