MESSIAH

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

I’m always torn when writing the title…  one of my professors in college threw a fit when someone referred to this work as Handel’s Messiah.  He told the student (thankfully it was not me) that it is simply MESSIAH and it’s not necessary to preface it with the author’s last name.  So, I split the difference – I didn’t put Handel’s name in the main title but added it on to the banner.  Everyone happy?  Good.  Let’s move on and talk about this magnificent work.

The oratorio Messiah by George Frederic Handel, although clearly stating “To God alone the glory,” was still met with skepticism and some even considered the work to be blasphemous!  Can you imagine?  It reminds me of the split reaction witnessed in my generation when “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” were released.  No, it’s not Handel, but you get my drift, right?

So, Handel thought he could fan the flames a bit by scheduling the premiere in Ireland instead of London because he didn’t want to be close to the Anglican Bishops.  He also advertised the piece as A Sacred Oratorio instead of emphasizing the name Messiah.

As most of us know, the piece depicts the life of Christ and not just one aspect.  It was written for Easter originally since it ends with the popular and majestic Hallelujah Chorus.  Actually, only the first third of the work is dedicated to the birth of Christ.  The second act is about the death of Christ and the third act of course focuses on His resurrection.  It premiered in the spring during the Lent season.

But here’s what transpired…  Laurence Cummings, the conductor of the London Handel Orchestra, determined that the work would be fitting for Christmas, noting that there is so much fine Easter music already, but very little music for Christmas.  By the 19th century, Messiah quickly became a Christmas staple, especially in the United States.

It blows my mind that Handel wrote the 259-page score in about 24 days with minimal errors.  Richard Luckett, author of Handel’s Messiah:  A Celebration, writes that there are some uncorrected errors or blotted out notes, but remarkably few mistakes considering the speed in writting the score.

We’re reminded by Lucinda today that Jesus is the Way to have life eternal in Heaven.  Aren’t we thankful?must-be-jesus

For Unto Us a Child Is Born is my favorite portion of Messiah that addresses the birth of Christ.  I once had the amazing opportunity to sing in a choir that performed this work and it’s probably the most challenging cantata I’ve been part of – but it was such fun to learn, and as an alto, it kept me on my toes.  There is so much back and forth, especially in this song.  If you lose your place you’d better just drop out until you figure out where you are – you could be singing along with the tenors if you aren’t careful.

THREE KINGS DAY

TL 1-6 THREE KINGS DAY

 

ABG WE THREE KINGS

1-6 TWELFTH DAYHa!  You thought Christmas was over, didn’t you???

Remember the Christmas song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”?  Well, there are twelve days of Christmas and contrary to popular belief, they begin on Christmas Day and end on January 6!  Today is THREE KINGS DAY, known as the day of the Three Kings (a.k.a. wise men or magi).  If you watch “Touched By an Angel”, you will know their names – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.  Their names are in the Bible too – but I retain more information from TV shows.  Anyhow, they saw the bright star of Bethlehem and followed it to the place where Christ lay in a manger and presented Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

So how do we celebrate this last day of Christmas?  If there are goodies on your tree, it’s time for the kids to eat them – this is known as the “plündern”  (raiding) of the tree.  These days we don’t use many sweets to decorate, but I know some kids who will be happy to eat the candy canes they find!   Then it’s time to take the Christmas tree down and dispose of it.  People used to burn their trees in a big bonfire, but I don’t suppose that’s going on much anymore, especially in America.  I think nowadays, the trees are left on the curb and they come along and make mulch out of it – and you get the bag of mulch.

When December 25th was finally adopted by the Western Christian Church as the date of the Feast of Christ’s birth in the fourth century, it’s believed that this change in date brought about the traditional “12 Days of Christmas.”  While it’s not at all my favorite song (I refer to it as the Redundant Christmas headache song), it’s still interesting to know the history – it helps me cope better.  So technically, we should not begin singing this Carol until Christmas Day – ah HA!!!  Now we know! 

The Western Christian Church celebrated the Feast of Christ’s birth on December 25th and the Eastern Christian Church still recognized January 6th as the day of celebration of the nativity.  January 6th was also kept as the physical birthday in Bethlehem.  In the Teutonic west, Epiphany became the Festival of the Three Kings, or Twelfth day.

I guess it’s like a RIGHT TWIX /LEFT TWIX THING.  The two factories make the same product but refer to the process in different terminology.  But they make the same thing – Twix!  I must be hungry – I’m using food analogies. 

The point I’m making is that we know the birth of Christ took place, and no matter what day we honor the birth, it’s the fact that we honor it that counts – not when we honor it.

The evening before Twelfth Day, prayers are said and dried herbs that have been blessed are burnt, their aroma filling the house.  Entryways are sprinkled with holy water and the master of the house writes C + M + B (first initials of the wise men) and the year above the front door of the house and the barn door – and write “Protect us again this year from the dangers of fire and water”.  Usually the words “Christ bless this home” are written as well.

In Austria and Bavaria, the custom of the Star Singers is still very much alive.  It is to signify the travel of the Three Kings and begins on New Years Day through January 6th.  Children dress as the kings and hold up a large star.  They go from door to door, caroling and singing a Three Kings’ song.  In return they receive money or some sweet treat.  In the old days the collected donations were given to unemployed craftsmen or veterans.  Today they go to organized charities of the church or the Third World countries.

Some older folks still remember when Three Kings Day was celebrated.  The evening of January 6th used to mean a big gathering with Christmas foods, Christmas carols sung around the piano and grandchildren eating the goodies off the tree before it was taken to be burned.

 

The standard tune now associated with The Twelve Days of Christmas is derived from a 1909 arrangement of a traditional folk melody by English composer Frederic Austin, who first introduced the now familiar prolongation of the verse “five gold rings” (everyone’s favorite part)!

So…  NOW Christmas is over – let’s sing the song together one last time…  on the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me…  (take a DEEP BREATH…)

12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING, 11 PIPERS PIPING, 10 LORDS-A-LEAPING, 9 LADIES DANCING, 8 MAIDS-A-MILKING, 7 SWANS-A-SWIMMING, 6 GEESE-A-LAYING

FIVE GOLD RINGS…  (take another DEEP BREATH)

4 CALLING BIRDS, 3 FRENCH HENS, 2 TURTLE DOVES…

AND A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE!!!  Along with that – maybe a good pair of earplugs.

Just because I cannot sing does not mean I will not sing.  😉

 

ABG WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM

CHRISTMAS DAY

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P&P MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE STEEPLE

 Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!  – Hamilton Wright Mabie

Nothing touches the heart quite like those wonderful (corny – my husband would add) Hallmark movies!  They are a large part of my Christmas tradition.  I keep the little package of Puffs right beside the recliner where I can reach them quickly and easily!  Hey, I know there will be “puffs” moments along the way – that’s what makes these movies so great – am I right?

 Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.   – Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

My favorite Hallmark Christmas movie for 2014 is THE CHRISTMAS SHEPHERD.  And yes – there is a dog (well, duh!)  You know the drill – wear Christmas jammies and fuzzy socks.  Get comfy with your favorite snack – and let’s get this show on the road!  Yes – look it up on You Tube – to post here would violate copyright laws.

 Remember
This December,
That love weighs more than gold!
– Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

I hope you enjoyed the movie.  And yes – I used the Puffs…  I admit it! 

“Let Every Day Be Christmas”
by Norman Wesley Brooks  

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.Peace on Earth, good will to men,
kind thoughts and words of cheer,
are things we should use often
and not just once a year.Remember too the Christ-child, grew up to be a man;
to hide him in a cradle, is not our dear Lord’s plan.
So keep the Christmas spirit, share it with others far and near,
from week to week and month to month, throughout the entire year!written December 17th 1976
by Norman Wesley Brooks
U.S. Design Engineer (1923–2002)

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!  May this day be filled with love of family and renewal of spirit as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  ❤

It’s not too late to order your copy of Lucinda Berry Hill’s new devotional book!  Everybody needs a new devotional book to begin this new year, right?

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Click on the link below to get your copy!

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000952694/A-Second-Cup-with-Jesus.aspx 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

TL MERRY CHRISTMAS

THE STAR STAYS
A culture Christmas is cold, commercialized and calculated.  Everyone is all about the bottom line financially.  How much will retailers make this year?  Profit margins and being in the black are the most important aspects of a culture Christmas.  No wonder it leaves non-Christians feeling cold and wanting.

To lean heavily on the mere traditions of Christmas is to miss the mark and to miss the meaning. If we are so wrapped up in the “doing” part of Christmas, we miss the “being”, the present that God wants for all of us to receive. He wants us to see His Son, Jesus. Celebrate His birthday and be grateful that He came to save the world. There is no greater gift than that. No new technological gizmo can top that!

A culture Christmas will have you on an emotional “high” for just a little while, getting all wrapped up in the glitz and glitter, the rushing and the flitting here and hurry there. It is fun and folly for a short time. Unfortunately, the result of that sort of celebration leaves you empty inside. When you indulge the carnal folly of Christmas, you end up with an empty soul and a sad credit card statement. Most people just over-spend and it takes the rest of the year to get the debt paid off – if it gets paid off.

There’s a better way to approach Christmas. It begins with pure simplicity and a level logic. It’s not based on external folly, but internal wisdom that will rule your heart. It is not a fleeting happiness, but a deep sense of peace and joy that will remain in your heart long after the last Christmas decoration has been put away for the year. Christ Himself wants to inhabit your heart and fill you will joy unspeakable and full of glory. He alone can replace the carnal desires with real peace and contentment that allow you to see beyond all the frills and fluff of a culture Christmas – to a personal celebration between you and Him.

For a Christian, Christmas is simply Thanksgiving all over again. We keep the same attitude of gratitude, adding our eternal thanks for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While we know that His birth is what we are celebrating, many of us also have a Christmas tree and exchange gifts. The difference is that we know in our hearts that God gave us the greatest gift of all, Jesus!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

TL MERRY CHRISTMAS

MISTLETOE FOR MAMA (USED 12-4-13)

A great BIG thank you to Lucinda Berry Hill for that wonderful poem! So sweet!!! ❤

November 27, 1969 came and went as all other days do. Mama made a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner and daddy and I enjoyed every bite of it! I remember helping mama clear the table before dessert. She stood in the middle of the kitchen making fake coughing noises. When she finally had daddy’s full attention, she gave him a very mischievous and playful glance over her horn-rimmed glasses as she tip-toed toward the refrigerator to remove a small paper bag. This was the official beginning of the Christmas season at our house – it was mama’s mistletoe!

Every year mama bought a fresh sprig of mistletoe from a local nursery. It was a tradition not to be trifled with, as this was serious business in the Turner household. Admittedly, the little sprig of mistletoe looked past its prime by the time Christmas was over. Regardless, it stayed right where mama hung it, over the kitchen sink, until the last ornament was taken from the tree the day after Christmas.

At 8 years old I was not actually helping with dishes yet, so my daddy would send me to the kitchen to fetch something – a napkin or the salt and pepper. When I got to the kitchen he would get a “two-fer”, from mama and me! I usually got more tickles than kisses, but it was still fun!

I remember times when I sat at the kitchen table doing homework when my daddy came home. Mama would be standing at the kitchen sink pointing at her mistletoe. What a clever woman! Daddy quickly put down his lunchbox and coat to kiss mama hello. I usually got a little peck on the head too.

As a small child, I learned that it is the tiny affections and fun times that make families healthy and happy. I grew up knowing the real meaning of Christmas, but I also grew up knowing in my heart that family fun, especially at Christmas-time, involves a little sprig of mistletoe and a lot of good old-fashioned love and commitment.