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,
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,
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]

Preserving the Good – 31 Days of Christmas Carols/O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis)

I love Tasha Cobbs. When Tasha sings about Jesus you know she really means it! I hope in everything I do, in all I say, I hope my love of Jesus comes through as if I REALLY BELIEVE IT! Because—yes, I do!

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me.” ~John 14:1

Grace – Eric Enstrom (1918)

O Come, All Ye Faithful (attributed to various authors)

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:
O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
Christ the Lord.

Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!
Glory to God, glory in the highest:
O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!
O come, let us adore Him, (3×)
Christ the Lord.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/We Three Kings

‘We Three Kings’ has always seemed to me a perfect Christmas Carol, capturing the dignity and wisdom of the Magi who visited and worshipped the Christ child.

“And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” ~Matthew 2:11

Adoration of the Magi – Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1655)

We Three Kings Of Orient Are – John Henry Hopkins (1857)

We three kings of Orient are;
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of light,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign. [Refrain]

Frankincense to offer have I;
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising,
worshiping God on high. [Refrain]

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb. [Refrain]

Glorious now behold him arise;
King and God and sacrifice:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
sounds through the earth and skies. [Refrain]

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

The video of this song by Anna Hawkins, the reverence, the scenes of Israel touched my heart. I would love to see Israel in person, but if I can’t, I so appreciate the glimpses technology gives me of the land God has blessed, and where my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lived his life here on earth.

I love the way the light, in this rather dark, classical painting of the Nativity, shines out from the Christ Child. He is the light of the world—and this artwork, painted in the 1700’s by an artist who is now unknown, captures the way the Savior ‘disperses the gloomy clouds of night,’ not only in the world, but also in our heart, mind, and spirit.

The Nativity – Anonymous (1700’s)

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” ~II Corinthians 4:6

O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL (Between 1500’s and 1700’s, might be as early as 12th century)

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Adonai, Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Hark the Herald Angels Sing

The beautiful baritone voice of Nat King Cole is one of my best Christmas carol memories. I’ve listened to his carols and songs of Christmas since I was a very young child. Well known for his rendition of ‘The Christmas Song,’ his voice seems blessed with the ability to bring a sense of the divine to the wonderful old Christmas carols. Instead of jingle-jangles and merriment, which I enjoy also, I always choose first those old, sweet songs that bring me a sense of reverence and awe for the newborn King.

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe—” ~Hebrews 12:28

Worship of the Shepherds by Agnolo Bronzino (1539)


Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!
Christ, by highest heaven adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the favoured one.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th’incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!
Hail! the heaven-born
Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King !”

~Charles Wesley (1739)

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Bring a Torch Jeanete Isabella

This Christmas carol is one of the lesser known in the United States, but in the Provence section of France, where the carol originated, it is still sung by children dressed as shepherds and milkmaids, as they walk to Midnight Mass.

Church of the Nativity/Birthplace of Jesus

BRING A TORCH, JEANETTE ISABELLA (17th Century Christmas Carol)

Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella!
Bring a torch, to the stable call
Christ is born, tell the folk of the village
Jesus is born and Mary’s calling.
Ah![a] Ah! Beautiful is the Mother!
Ah! Ah! Beautiful is her Child

Who is that, knocking on the door?
Who is it, knocking like that?
Open up, we’ve arranged on a platter
Lovely cakes that we have brought here
Knock! Knock! Open the door for us!
Knock! Knock! Let’s celebrate!

It is wrong when the Child is sleeping,
It is wrong to talk so loud.                                                                                                  Silence, now as you gather around,
Lest your noise should waken Jesus.
Hush! Hush! See how He slumbers;
Hush! Hush! See how fast He sleeps!

Softly now unto the stable,
Softly for a moment come!
Look and see how charming is Jesus,
Look at Him there, His cheeks are rosy!
Hush! Hush! See how the Child is sleeping;
Hush! Hush! See how He smiles in His dreams!

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Angels From the Realms of Glory

Who doesn’t enjoy singing Angels From the Realms of Glory? I love to watch small children sing this carol at Christmas. Oh my, how they get into the Gloria in Excelsis Deo refrain. I tend to sing like a child myself when I’m alone in the house, but when I go out, alas, I tend to put my adult persona back on. I’d rather stay the exuberant child wherever I may be. One day perhaps I will throw off my respectable self and shout like a child singing of the Savior.

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

Song of the Angels William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

ANGELS FROM THE REALMS OF GLORY by James Montgomery (1816)

Angels from the realms of glory
Wing your flight through all the earth
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth
In excelsis deo
In excelsis deo
Shepherds, in the fields abiding
Watching o’er your flocks by night
God with man is now residing
Yonder shines the infant light
In excelsis deo
In excelsis deo
Sages, leave your contemplation
Brighter visions beam afar
Seek the great desire of nations
Ye have seen His natal star
In excelsis deo
In excelsis deo
In excelsis deo
In excelsis deo

(The original refrain is
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ the newborn King.)

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

“Why wish upon a star when you can pray to the One who created it?” ~Unknown

I searched in vain for someone to credit for the great quote above. How true the words are—why do we seek earthly wisdom first instead of finding ‘rest’ in Him? He knows all the answers. He put all the stars in place. Nothing is too hard for Him!

Nasa’s Hubble Telescope – A Quintet of Stars

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen “is one of the oldest extant carols, dated to the 16th century or earlier. The earliest known printed edition of the carol is in a broadsheet dated to c. 1760. The traditional English melody is in the minor mode; the earliest printed edition of the melody appears to be in a parody, in the 1829 Facetiae of William Hone. It had been traditional and associated with the carol since at least the mid-18th century, when it was recorded by James Nares under the title “The old Christmas Carol”.” ~Wikipedia

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN (Traditional Christmas Carol)

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Fear not then, said the Angel
Let nothing you affright
This day is born a Savior
Of a pure Virgin bright
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s pow’r and might
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Silent Night

Silent Night, Holy Night—Today I reread a few paragraphs of one of my favorite sermons by Charles Spurgeon. I also began watching a documentary on Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Reading Spurgeon’s words, listening to the actual preaching of Lloyd-Jones, brings ‘the nearness of eternity’ just a little closer. The words of Martyn Lloyd-Jones are so appropriate for the days we are living in now.

The Christian is a man who can be certain about the ultimate even when he is most uncertain about the immediate.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The Nativity – Benjamin West (1738-1820)

“And when the Lord Jesus has become your peace, remember, there is another thing: good will towards men. Do not try to keep Christmas without good will towards men.” ~C.H. Spurgeon

SILENT NIGHT Composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, oh, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/The First Noel

“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” ~ Matthew 2:2

In Bethlehem, the summers are long, warm, arid, and clear and the winters are cold and mostly clear. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 41°F to 86°F and is rarely below 35°F or above 92°F.”

I’ve been very cold at night while camping. Sleeping is not sound when your feet are freezing and your breath is frosty. Remembering cold nights makes me wonder if the Shepherds had their robes pulled over their heads to keep in the warmth. Would the light of the angels and star penetrate the fabric and create a glow inside?

You see, I like to imagine myself a participant there on that hillside. I have more in common with shepherds than I do wise men. Surely, one of the shepherds was awake and on watch. Did he or she alert the others with a cry of alarm, or did the shepherd’s voice fail him? Had the star been steadily brightening in the sky, or did it suddenly appear, near bright as the sun? Christmas Carols lead my imagination into familiar and loved scenes. For me, the songs and tunes are treasures of the season and make this one of the best times of the year.

Hugo van der Goes (c.1420-1440-1482)

THE FIRST NOEL BY Davies Gilbert 1823

The First Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay;
In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
O’er Bethlehem it took it rest,
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Noel – “A term signifying the holiday season, Noël comes to us from the Latin verb nasci, meaning “to be born.” In the book of Ecclesiastes, the birth of Jesus is called natalis. A variation of this word, nael, made its way into Old French as a reference to the Christmas season and later into Middle English as nowel.”

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Joy to the World

As I sang along with Dolly Parton, and other YouTube videos of JOY TO THE WORLD, I was suddenly caught up in the words “far as the curse is found.” Some renditions, such as Parton’s, leave this phrase out, but others include it. I am comforted by the lyrics that Christ Jesus rules the world with truth and grace; he defeats the curse of sin and death. This verse of the song reminds me of Bible verses I love—

“Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle by the farthest sea, even there Your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast. ~Psalm139:7-10

Bethlehem Church of the Nativity

The words from Psalms remind me that wherever there is man, wherever there is good or evil, the Lord is with us in every situation. Wherever the curse of evil works it’s way in, the Holy Spirit can cast it out. There is nothing too hard for the Lord God Almighty ‘who was, and is, and is to come.’

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” ~Revelation 1:8


Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields & floods, rocks, hills & plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

I like to imagine myself in that field with the shepherds. Was the first sign of the angel appearing to them a glimmer of light, or was there an instant bright sunburst? A great company of the heavenly host, oh my, how I wish I could see that sight, hear them praising God.

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds – Thomas Cole/1834

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears 1849

It came upon the midnight clear
That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven’s all gracious king
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing

All ye, beneath life’s crushing load
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look, now for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing
And hear the angels sing

Bible Reference

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~Luke 2:8-14

Preserving the Good/Pots & Pans – Candied Ginger

Ginger is full of nutrients. Ginger beefs up your immunity and helps your body function well. I love soaking a fresh piece of ginger in boiling water to make a tea. I recently found organic ginger and it was a good price. I decided it was time to make candied ginger, but…before I go on with that part of my post, let me explain a bit about preserving the good.

In the November 15, 2020, In Touch devotional, I read great words about preserving what is good. Lately, evil not only seems to be at the door, it seems to be using a battering ram to destroy everything of worth. I am going to take the advice of these wise words and try to preserve what is good in any way I can. It can be by words, by deeds, or by a blog post containing a good tip or something beautiful.

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. ~Philippians 4:8

Today I actually preserved ginger by an easy candying process, no thermometers were needed. I’m including an outstanding youtube demonstration of the process I used. The only difference for me was to finish my ginger off in my dehydrator on a low setting. I couldn’t resist tasting it before it was completely dried and it is SO good. I also saved the syrup in ice cube trays, about a 1/2 tbs in each, to use for tea or upset stomach. If you like ginger, give this easy technique a try.