Posts Tagged ‘#christmascarols’

Today is the day I celebrate my main man, more commonly known here simply as hubby (for, though he is famous in my heart, I like to keep his identity mostly to myself).

I am thankful for this man, born on the day (usually) following the dark winter solstice. He likes to say that his birth heralded the increase of more light. He does, indeed, light up my life.

I have now spent over 60% of my life with this man and I can no longer fathom life any other way.

Marrying so young, we have learned so much together. Music is an area where we do not often share common ground, except when it comes to hymns. He has opened my eyes to the beauty of the sound and theology that is expressed in ancient songs, usually sung in ancient cathedrals.

So, on this day of celebration of his birth, I thought I would share his favorite Christmas carol sung in his preferred manner (congregational singing … despite the fact that he almost exclusively listens to music sung by choirs … perhaps congregational singing is simply the way this carol is best intended).

Hark the Herald Angels Sing was originally titled, “Hymn for Christmas-Day” and truly it is that, for it is often sung at worship services on Christmas Day.

Written by Charles Wesley, it was first published in a book called, Hymns and Sacred Poems, over 280 years ago. Changes were made to the words, over the years, but the meaning, the theology, the story of the celebration of celestial heavenly choirs at the birth of the Savior of earth remained. The jaw-dropping, celebratory music of Mendelssohn was eventually added, as if it was designed especially for the lyrics.

It is based off of the passage from Luke 2:13-14 :

And suddenly
there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

When I asked hubby why this carol, he replied, “it is the perfect combination of musical score (Mendolhson) and theology….”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn 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 hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain]

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.

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A carol I did not grow up listening to at Christmas time is the oldest known to have been written in Canada (1642). It was written by a Jesuit missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, who wrote it in the language of the Huron/Wendat people of the area on the North Shore of Lake Ontario. Brébeuf immersed himself in the learning of the language, the culture and the spiritual practises of the Iroquois people.

His life’s end came when captured and killed, after the smallpox epidemic claimed so many of these First Nations peoples. Though he and another priest were tortured and killed, so were those of the Huron nation who had followed in the waters of baptism.

A Huron Carol, like his learning of the local language, was to give cultural context to the Christmas story for these people. It was, I think, an expression of love and respect for them. Isn’t this how we explain Christ and the Christmas story to all who do not know? We make it relevant, we show the fruit that is available to taste … in a way that the listener might hear and understand.

No one sings this carol better than Tom Jackson, of the Cree First Nations Band, in Saskatchewan.

My favourite line from the Huron Carole is

The Holy Child of earth and heav’n
Is born today for you

because the power in helping others is to know the power of the gift and to understand we do not know whether or not the child we are helping is “The Child”… peace tom j.”

The Huron Carole

Twas in the moon of wintertime

When all the birds had fled

That mighty Gitchi Manitou

Sent angel choirs instead

Before their light

The stars grew dim

And wandering hunters

Heard the hymn

Jesus, your King is born

Jesus is born

In excelis gloria

Within a lodge of broken bark

The tender Babe was found

A ragged robe of rabbit skin

Enwrapped his beauty round

And as the hunter braves drew high

The angel song rang loud and high


The earliest moon of wintertime

Is not so round and fair

As was the ring of glory on

The helpless infant there

The chiefs from far before

Him knelt

With gifts of fox and beaver pelt


O children of the forest free

O sons of Manitou

The Holy Child of earth and heav’n

Is born today for you

Come kneel before the radiant boy

Who brings you beauty, peace,

And joy


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