Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Carol of the Bells

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

~Romans 15:13

I love the way this verse from Romans reinforces the same joyful message as ‘Carol of the Bells.‘ This song, by whoever performs it, and whatever the accompaniment, seems to exude amazing energy. That’s how I want to go into 2021…with energy! I don’t want to be fearful, or without confidence, and I want to pray, sing and rejoice in the Lord Jesus every day. I hope your 2021 will be blessed, peaceful and full of energetic JOY!

CAROL OF THE BELLS by Mykola Leontovych/Peter Wilhousky (1914)

Hark! how the bells
Sweet silver bells
All seem to say
“Throw cares away.”
Christmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old
Meek and the bold

Ding, dong, ding, dong
That is their song
With joyful ring
All caroling
One seems to hear
Words of good cheer
From ev’rywhere
Filling the air

Oh how they pound
Raising the sound
O’er hill and dale
Telling their tale
Joyf’ly they ring
While people sing
Songs of good cheer
Christmas is here
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/The Holly and the Ivy

THE HOLLY AND THE IVY (traditional English Christmas Carol 15th – 16th century)

“Christians consider holly symbolic of Jesus Christ in two ways. The red berries represent the blood that Jesus shed on the cross on the day he was crucified. Legend states that holly berries were originally white, but that the blood Christ shed for the sins of humankind stained the berries forever red. A holly’s pointed leaves symbolize the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head before he died on the cross.” ~How Stuff Works

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. ~Acts 4:12

THE HOLLY AND THE IVY

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown:
O, the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom,
As white as lily flow’r,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
To be our dear Saviour:
Refrain

The holly bears a berry,
As red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
To do poor sinners good:
Refrain

The holly bears a prickle,
As sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
On Christmas Day in the morn:
Refrain

The holly bears a bark,
As bitter as the gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
For to redeem us all:
Refrain

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown:
Refrain

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Good Christian Men (Friends), Rejoice!

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~Colossians 3:16

When I researched the lyrics for this Christmas carol, I found two versions, one signifying men as the recipients of the words, and another set of lyrics with the song sung to friends. Whatever way you choose to sing the song, the message remains the same, “Jesus Christ was born to save!”

Gaudenzio Ferrari 002
Gaudenzio Ferrari – Musizierende Engel (1530-1540)

GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE! – Medieval Latin Carol – translation by John Mason Neale (1853)

Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ was born today.
Ox and ass before him bow,
and he is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
now ye hear of endless bliss:
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He has opened heaven’s door,
and we are blest forevermore.
Christ was born for this!
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian friends, rejoice
with heart and soul and voice;
now ye need not fear the grave:
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all
to gain his everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/The Gifts They Gave

The more the words, the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone? ~Ecclesiastes 6:11

Years ago, a lady I worked with ridiculed this version of The Gifts They Gave, not realizing Johnny Cash singing this sweet song was one of my favorites. It reminds me to watch what I say and to not criticize much, if at all. Something I dislike, or find laughable, just might be precious to someone else.

The Adoration of the Magi – Gentile da Fabriano (1423)

THE GIFTS THEY GAVE (12th Century)

Jesus our brother, strong and good,

Was humbly born in a stable rude,

And the friendly beasts around Him stood,

Jesus our brother, strong and good.

I, said the donkey shaggy and brown,

I carried His mother up hill and down

I carried her safely to Bethlehem town;

I, said the donkey shaggy and brown.

I, said the cow all white and red,

I gave Him my manger for His bed,

I gave Him my hay to pillow His head;

I, said the cow all white and red.

I, said the sheep with curly horn,

I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm,

He wore my coat on Christmas morn;

I, said the sheep with curly horn.

I, said the dove, from the rafters high,

Cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry.

We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I;

I, said the dove, from the rafters high.

And every beast, by some good spell,

In the stable dark was glad to tell

Of the gift he gave Immanuel;

The gift he gave Immanuel.[3]

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In

I learned something as I composed this post…camels are known as the ‘ships of the desert.’ The song refers to the wise men and their camels.

WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM. 

Adoration of the Magi – Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1655-60)

I SAW THREE SHIPS COME SAILING IN by William Sandys (1833)

I saw three ships come sailing in
on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day.
I saw three ships come sailing in
on Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three
on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three
on Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there
on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day.
The virgin Mary and Christ were there
on Christmas Day in the morning.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Ding Dong Merrily on High

Although the big day is over, and in spite of so many world crises, even though I might sound cliche, I hope to keep the spirit of Christmas in my heart the whole year through. We’ve made some adaptations due to current circumstances of the pandemic, but I have hope for a brighter year. As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one.”

The Christmas Tree – Albert Chevallier Tayler (1911)

DING DONG MERRILY ON HIGH by George R. Woodward (1924)

Ding dong! Merrily on high
In heav’n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv’n with angel-singing.
Glo——————————ria,
Hosanna in excelsis!
Glo——————————ria,
Hosanna in excelsis!

E’en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And io, io, io,
By priest and people sungen:
Glo——————————ria,
Hosanna in excelsis!
Glo——————————ria,

Hosanna in excelsis!
Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers;
May you beautifully rhyme
Your e’entime song, ye singers.
Glo——————————ria,
Hosanna in excelsis!
Glo——————————ria,
Hosanna in excelsis!

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Handel’s Messiah, Hallelujah Chorus

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. ~John 14:3

I love this stunning video combining beautiful scenery and cities with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. I don’t think this song would actually be considered a Christmas Carol, but no matter, I’m including it in my 31 days. What better day to shout and sing, ‘Hallelujah!’ than Christmas 2020? No matter what is going on in our world, He still reigns.

HALLELUJAH! by George Frideric Handel (1741)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord
And of His Christ, and of His Christ
And He shall reign for ever and ever
And He shall reign for ever and ever
And He shall reign for ever and ever
For ever and ever, forever and ever
King of kings (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And Lord of lords (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
King of kings (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And Lord of lords (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
King of kings (Forever and ever Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And Lord of lords (King of kings and Lord of lords)
And He shall reign
And He shall reign
And He shall reign forever and ever
King of kings (Forever and ever)
And He shall reign (Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)
And He shall reign forever and ever
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever
Forever and ever
Forever and ever
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/No Room & Have You Any Room

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ~Luke 2:7

When I was a child my parents sang in many Christmas cantatas. While performing, Born a King, by John W. Peterson, everyone in the choir dressed in robes fashioned after clothing in the time Jesus was born. My parents had the roles of Joseph and Mary, and sang No Room as a duet. It was over fifty years ago, and I still remember it perfectly. I recall being like a parent myself, so proud of them!

Christmas Eve is a good time to think of bygone days, family and friends still with us, and those who have left and are now with the Lord Jesus. In all you do this day I wish you the joy of the Spirit, and pray you feel the blessing of our Father in Heaven all around you today and in the coming year.

Adoration of the Shepherds – Gerrit Van Honthorst (1622)

No Room (c John W. Petersen)

Have You Any Room for Jesus? (unknown 1871)

Have you any room for Jesus,
He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission,
Sinner, will you let Him in?

Refrain:
Room for Jesus, King of Glory!
Hasten now His Word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.

Room for pleasure, room for business,
But for Christ the Crucified,
Not a place that He can enter,
In the heart for which He died?

Have you any room for Jesus,
As in grace He calls again?
Oh, today is time accepted,
T’morrow you may call in vain.

Room and time now give to Jesus,
Soon will pass God’s day of grace;
Soon thy heart left cold and silent,
And thy Savior’s pleading cease.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Coventry Carol

I include this Christmas Carol with a heavy heart, for the slaughter of the innocents continues today; it is so entrenched in everyday life we aren’t aware of the reach of its insidious tentacles. Even a quick search of how deeply infiltrated our lives are with this horror causes me to want to run away to an uninhabited place and live totally off the land. At Christmas, sad talk is shunned, but turning away doesn’t make the problem disappear. What to do? I’m completely baffled. I can only leave it on God’s altar and ask him to show me the way.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. ~Psalm 139:13-16

Flight Into Egypt – Titian 1508

Coventry Carol – Unknown (16th Century)

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.
Thou little tiny child,
Bye bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we sing,
“Bye bye, lully, lullay?”

Herod the king, in his raging,
Chargèd he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor child, for thee
And ever mourn and may
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
“Bye bye, lully, lullay.”

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Good King Wenceslas

Wenceslas was a real person: the Duke of Bohemia, a 10th-century Christian prince in a land where many practiced a more ancient religion. ~NPR

When people are ordered to show tolerance and kindness it breeds nothing but hypocrisy. True kindness almost never springs from force, but must be born within to be genuine. Authentic kindness grows out of love, love for God, love for others, and also love of self. The self-loathing being fobbed off as ‘wokeness’ in our culture today will not bring about love or kindness, but only perpetuate darkness and unrest.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Saint Stephen’s Day, also called the Feast of Saint Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day to commemorate Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr or protomartyr, celebrated on 26 December in the Latin Church and 27 December in Eastern Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox Churches that adhere to the Julian calendar mark Saint Stephen’s Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which places it on 9 January of the Gregorian calendar used in secular contexts. In Latin Christian denominations, Saint Stephen’s Day marks the second day of Christmastide. ~Wikipedia

GOOD KING WENCESLAS by John Mason Neale 1853

Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gath’ring winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me, if you know it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me food and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither,
You and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together,
Through the cold wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger,
Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread now in them boldly,
You shall find the winter’s rage freeze your blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, while God’s gifts possessing,
You who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I’ve loved the tones of The Carpenters for decades, and they don’t disappoint in this version of ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.’ Fifty years ago, on Christmas Day, I received a record player and an album of the Carpenter’s titled ‘Close to You.’ How has time gone by so quickly?

I still have the album. It’s easy now to bring up the old songs sung by the Carpenters on tablet, Fire television or computer, but holding the old album in my hands takes me back to when I unwrapped it all those years ago.

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along th’unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing, singing, on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Little Drummer Boy

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. ~Colossians 3:23-24

The Drummer Boy – William Morris Hunt 1862

I loved this song as a child. I love it as an adult. “I played my best for Him.” This year, whatever unfathomable event might take place, I will strive to be my best for Him.

Little Drummer Boy by Katherine Kennicott Davis 1941

Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum
A new born king to see
Pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the king
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum
So to honor him
Pa rum pum pum pum
When we come
Pum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum pa rum

Little baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our king
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum
Shall I play for you
Pa rum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum

Mary nodded
Pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for him
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for him
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum

Then he smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum
Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum
A new born king to see
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum
Me and my drum
Me and my drum
Me and my drum
Rum pum pum pum

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Do You Hear What I Hear?

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” ~Mark 16:15

The Earth / NASA – Apollo 17 Crew

Said the King, pray for peace, people everywhere. I pray for peace, I also pray I will be able to ‘Go into all the world to proclaim the gospel.’ I feel the two go hand in hand. I didn’t know until I read the history of this song that it was composed as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The link to the history of the song can be found below.

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR? by Gloria Shayne & Noël Regney (1962)

Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star
Dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
(Do you hear what I hear)
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear
(Do you hear what I hear)
A song, a song
High above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
(Do you know what I know)
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
(Listen to what I say)Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
(Listen to what I say)
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S

“If I, a lowly singer, dry one tear or soothe one humble human heart in pain, then my homely verse to God is dear and not one stanza has been sung in vain.” ~Jim Reeves

What do I leave behind me? My prayer for the coming year is to live each day as the gift it is, and try to do as much good as I can, no matter what the circumstances.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

The Angelus – Jean-Francois Millet 1857

C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S by Jenny Lou Carson

When I was but a youngster,
Christmas meant one thing,
That I’d be getting lots of toys that day.
I learned a whole lot different,
When my Mother sat me down,
And taught me to spell Christmas this way:

“C” is for the Christ child, born upon this day,
“H” for herald angels in the night,
“R” means our Redeemer,
“I” means Israel,
“S” is for the star that shone so bright,
“T” is for three wise men, they who traveled far,
“M” is for the manger where he lay,
“A”‘s for all He stands for,
“S” means shepherds came,

And that’s why there’s a Christmas day,
And that’s why there’s a Christmas day.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/I Wonder As I Wander

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.     ~Luke 6:12

So often when I walk outdoors in nature I feel the presence of God with me. Away from the clatter and noise of our current civilization, I am able to quiet my inner voices and listen to Him. Sometimes it’s just a quiet walking about, at others I return to my home with insight and renewal within my spirit. This song seems to capture how I feel when I wander.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. ~Genesis 1:14-15

Nocturnal Landscape – Henry Ossawa Tanner

I WONDER AS I WANDER by John Jacob Niles

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God’s heaven, a star’s light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God’s Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/What Child is This?

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. ~Luke 2:52

Adoration of the Magi – Jan de Bray 1674

If the tune sounds familiar, it is also the tune of the folk song, ‘Greensleeves.’ “The King of kings, salvation brings – Let loving hearts enthrone Him.” I hope to live this stanza out in my heart every day.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS? William Chatterton Dix 1865

What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear for sinners here,
The silent Word is pleading.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Hail, Hail, the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him,
The King of kings, salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise the song on high,
The Virgin sings her lullaby:
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/ O Holy Night

‘Till he appeared—the soul felt its worth. The song speaks of a thrill of hope, and somehow the music, the words, the way the song soars does seem to bring to me a thrill of hope.

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? ~Exodus 15:11

Carlo Maratta – Navtivita – 1655

O HOLY NIGHT – composed by Adolphe Adam 1847

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Chorus
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming;
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:
So, led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land,
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend;

Chorus
He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!

Chorus
Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Away in a Manger

The first time I remember being in a children’s Christmas program I sang ‘Away in a Manger,’ as a duet with a boy named Juddie Sweet. The church was pastored by my father in the small town of Clinton, Pa, about an hour out of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania. A camp-meeting, appropriately called Clinton Camp, was in the same town. I was in several years of Christmas programs afterwards, but it is this one I remember best. I have never lost my love for this beautiful Christmas Carol, so beloved by little children for over a century.

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. ~Luke 2:7

The Nativity – Federico Barocci (1597)

AWAY IN A MANGER – Unknown Author (1880’s)

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle ’til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

Preserving the Good – 31 Days of Christmas Carols/O Little Town of Bethlehem

Bethlehem—what sounds, smells, sights were experienced by those in the town on that night long ago? Did anyone sense they were living in a moment that would change the world and all mankind forever? In our own lives, what do we miss because we are focused on the ordinary, caught up in our everyday routines, rather than seeking the divine?

Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.” ~Micah 5:2

Bethlehem Gateway – 1898 – Photograph taken in 1898 – artist unknown

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM by Phillips Brooks

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary
And, gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to all on earth!

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel!

Perserving the Good – 31 Days of Christmas Carols/Go Tell It on the Mountain

‘Go Tell It on the Mountain,’ doesn’t sound like a typical Christmas Carol, but the words are a reminder to celebrate Christ Jesus’ birth, and also tell it all over the world. The song was compiled by John Wesley Work Jr., and dates back to at least 1865.

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!” ~Isaiah 52:7

Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting almost seems to have a voice of its own. I can almost hear the sky singing when I look at the painting, and I love the small church at the center with the mountains in the distance.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN (Spiritual)

Refrain:
Go, tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere;
go, tell it on the mountain
that Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
o’er silent flocks by night,
behold, throughout the heavens
there shone a holy light. [Refrain]

The shepherds feared and trembled
when lo! above the earth
rang out the angel chorus
that hailed our Savior‘s birth. [Refrain]

Down in a lowly manger
the humble Christ was born,
and God sent us salvation
that blessed Christmas morn. [Refrain]