Hope is a four-letter word

He is my light, my strength, my song

He is my light, my strength, my song

Hope.

A small word that feels so flimsy, tenuous, whisper thin.

Dandelion seeds scattered with breath.

Just have hope

–a punch in the gut.

A four-letter word, bitter and twisted in the mouth.

Like hinging your life on nothing.

Air.

A concept.

Because:

My circumstances are too deep, too dark, too heavy.

Suffocating with their too muchness.

And I can’t hold them with human hands,

And my eyes can’t see for the tears that blind.

And hope is a slap on sensitive skin.

hope is a white flag

hope is a white flag

But maybe that’s the point.

Nothing is ours to carry.

To plan. To plot.

To wrestle into being.

To hold on tight with human hands, so weak.

To see with human eyes, so myopic.

It’s light, a letting go.

It’s heavy, an anchor for the soul.

It’s hinging your life on everything, because in the end, there’s nothing left but

Hope.

It’s everything.

Despite the bad news.

Despite the diagnosis.

Despite the years of waiting.

Despite the years of yearning.

Despite the pain.

Despite the despair.

Despite the rain.

Despite the scorching heat of the desert,

Despite the thorns and stones of the wilderness.

Despite the feasts of others when you’re dining on crumbs.

Despite the failure, the fears,

the groaning, the tears.

Hope is both the stubborn holding tight,

Hannah’s silent prayer, Jacob’s I will not let go until you bless me grip,

And the wild, free-fall from great heights,

letting be, letting live, letting go.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

“In Christ Alone”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

after the rain, the sun

QUOTE it is well

Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question

– Elisabeth Elliot 

It’s hard to accept that you are in control, that you have a plan that’s good.

It’s hard to trust in a story I haven’t written myself.

I wish I could skip ahead a few chapters and see what’s next.

Then I’d be able to trust you. Then I’d be able to relax and enjoy my life and not get bogged down by the what ifs.

Then I could say with confidence that your promises are good.

But it doesn’t work like that, does it? It’s not that easy.

I guess there’s purpose in the process.

Your will is in the waiting.

If I knew all the answers to my deepest questions, I’d only trust myself–my efforts. My abilities.

I wouldn’t cling to you so desperately, the bleeding woman with nothing else but hope.

If I knew it all I wouldn’t need you. You’d be a benevolent benefactor I’d acknowledge on occasion–“thanks for everything!” and our relationship would dissolve into YOU GIVE and I TAKE.

I would miss the unexpected joy of a miracle, the tiny ray of sun struggling through the clouds when it’s rained and rained and rained without stopping.

I would learn nothing in the dark times, the hungry times, the wandering, the wondering in the wilderness.

I wouldn’t see the beauty in the brokenness, the way you whisper in the wind:

I’ve got this.

So I relent.

I relinquish control to the one who orders the storm to still.

I silence my soul to the rhythm of waves on the shore.

It is well.

Immanuel

In the wake of a tragedy, the world is sensitive and throbbing, like a wound irritated and freshly opened. Fingers are pointed and blame is cast–from guns to mental illness to the government to the belief that God was “kicked out of the public school system long ago,” the last one standing out from the others as something that makes me so, so sad and not for the reason you’d think.

It’s simply because I don’t think it’s true.

In her blog, Rachel Held Evans counters the argument that “God did not show up at Sandy Hook because ‘God is not allowed in public schools,’ because ‘we have systematically removed God from that place'” by stating:

God can be wherever God wants to be. God needs no formal invitation. We couldn’t ‘systematically remove’ God if we tried.

photo courtesy of www.weheartit.com

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

Like Rachel Held Evans, I feel troubled and provoked by the assertion that God can be removed from somewhere, especially in light of the Christmas message that He sent His son to be Immanuel.

God with us.

Allow me this space to vent.

God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), He is higher and more powerful than our human laws, and our government, and our educational systems and institutions, all the ways in which we attempt to organize our messy and sinful world.

He is more infinite, more far-reaching, and big that even our most sophisticated systems and intelligent laws cannot even begin to explain what He can do.

To think that a law, a bill, or an institution can keep God out is to greatly limit how vast and powerful He is. Preventing children from saying the Lord’s prayer in schools will not keep Him out, because, as Rachel Held Evans says, He cannot be kept out. He is everywhere at all times, God with us, even when we can’t feel it, even when we think something we’ve done or let happen will keep Him out.

What’s even more troubling to me than the loss of the Lord’s prayer in schools is that hearts have turned away from Him and don’t know His love. Because His people, Christians, aren’t showing them love–they’re keeping it to themselves, sequestered in their churches and programs and systems and then shaking their heads in disbelief when the rest of the world doesn’t follow suit.

They think that what a broken and hurting world needs is another church, another building, another system, another organization, another program or law, turning their noses up at the whiff of anything subversive or different, forgetting how subversive and different the very core of their religion is.

It is not, I believe, the system, the government, the organization, the program or law that people need. Telling people what to do and how to live their lives and “taking over” the government is not going to cause people everywhere to fall on their knees and take up Christianity.

It is you, Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

It’s people, showing His love to other people in the simplest of ways, showing others how valuable they are without a script or a tract or a million-dollar church building or the “anointing” of another spiritual celebrity.

As previously mentioned, Jesus was different. He didn’t require the most sophisticated synagogue to reach out to people, or traveling funds or ministry school degrees or the celebrity status of the modern-day spiritual leader.

His ministry was so simple. He sat with people–the prostitute, the tax collector, the homeless, the adulteress, the sick and poor and forgotten and neglected and built relationships with them. He listened to them, broke bread with them, wiped their tears and spoke to them, the ones from whom many church people would turn away.

Because it was the religious people who ticked Him off, how they inflated their own egos and turned his “church” from being about people to being about getting money from people.

It is my personal opinion that many Christians are fighting the wrong fight. They’re fighting for laws to be passed and systems to be changed, when they should be focusing on how they can change their own hearts from being marred by self-righteousness and pride.

The fact of the matter is simply this:

Jesus loved people, and if we want to change the world, that’s what we have to do too.

The Cave Song

I found myself poised at the mouth of a cave that emitted a low, beckoning song. I looked behind me at the mess of harvested fields and tangled forests, and the chill of solitude swept through my bones. Craving warmth, craving respite from slaying my own dragons, I stepped inside the cave and measured my footsteps by the rhythm of the cave’s welcoming song.

What struck me most about the cave song was how closely it resembled the song of my heart. As my fingers sought the cool, damp stone of the cave’s walls and the song ribboned around me, I was gripped with creeping recollection. There had been times when the pain of betrayal, the sting of rejection, or the abrupt brush of dismissal had forced me under blankets or flinging arms wide to the sea, to draw in and out of myself and let salt air or quilted comfort rock me with the steady thrumming of my very own dear soul.

And now this song, a crescendoing lure that began at the roots of my heart and its memories of oneness, brought me down deeper and darker into the cave’s serpentine throat.

My body responded to them before my head could comprehend that I wasn’t alone. Goosebumps prickled my skin and the hair on my arms rose as if blown on by cold air. I knew then, as my hand met flesh instead of stone wall that there were others like me, groping in darkness for something other than our own existence, our minuscule perceptions. As we walked in silence, I wondered if they could hear the same song, if the beating drum mimicked their hearts, if the chords struck and otherworldly undulations mirrored their hidden souls.

Crackling light spilled suddenly covering black with gold and the twisting tunnels broke open to reveal a hive of rooms electric, pulsing, living. There were all manner of people and creatures glimmering like stars, winged, glowing, dipped in fluorescent light. Once my eyes adjusted to this new brilliance, I explored room after room, feet advancing as if possessed. These people, this species of cave dwellers, roamed and danced and played instruments individually, but moved as if one to a cacophony of sounds.

golden cave man

I was approached then, by a man so beautiful I nearly doubled over with the sudden sharp acknowledgment of loneliness. His eyes burnt with fire and promise and his bare, burnished torso gleamed like the future. Before all logic and consideration we were interlocked, dancing to private unheard symphonies and there was gold dust in my hair, between my fingers, on my eyelashes and resting on my tongue. It tasted like stolen sweetness and my heart song quickened its tempo into a crashing riot of thunder and lightning.

Those eyes, his hands knotted with mine, held me for eternities. In those arms I imagined a warrior and myself a hero’s beauty, my body’s pleasure and relief of handing the sword to someone who would fight for me. He swept me into inner rooms and hidden chambers and showed me secret things and I could see it so clearly: life’s companion threshing wheat and overgrown weeds, making me beautiful and bold and wonderfully, exquisitely held. Held when blankets wore too thin and held when teetering too close to the cliff’s edge. Songs sung in harmony.

Eve’s kingdom for Adam’s kiss.

Lower and lower into the cave’s depths, my hand in his. So deep was I, so drunk on this feeling I rode like a wave, that I didn’t realize until seconds later that he was gone with as little logic and consideration as he had approached me.

His absence left me hollowed and hasty to leave the cave; in that moment of sharp desperation I saw there was no escape. I trudged like a wounded animal seeking my golden man. Flashes and glimpses danced on the walls, and I flung myself at them, only to crash headlong into stone and choke on gold dust lodged in my throat. It was then I heard the sliver of a new song, thin as violin strings and delicate as moth’s wing from the bowels of this new wretchedness. But I was like a lost child, a kitten, easily diverted by baubles and tricks of light.

I followed the shadow dancers and joined the mass of people and creatures like me transfixed by the cave’s seductive song. It was a party like none I had ever seen, a celebration of ourselves and our enjoyment of each other. All around me, those with severed limbs and giant gaping holes like mine flirted, fanned flames, posed in beguiling shapes. I saw then that it was a feast and we were feasting on each other’s souls. And the hole inside me gaped open, vulnerable, grotesque, and demanded instant filling. The cave people found solace in other arms, found ecstasy and delight in mutual mastication.

I saw how easily it was to replace one golden man for another, how with each dance and touch of hand the connection was more shallow, each split less severe. Bees to flowers, all of us were bees and flowers both, the honey and the beast.

All the while we caroused in perfect entrancement, a new song spun itself around me softly, approaching and retreating like a rolling tide. It was just sweet and pure enough, small teaspoons of honey, to give me pause. For brief moments I’d see myself as if from afar and perceive that we were a hurting lot with holes too big and ugly to fill. But the cave song was louder, it was catchy and quick and we were all singing it raucously. And the cave people, the golden men, were easier to see and touch than intangible threads of solitary songs.

How intoxicated I was then, high on the fraternity of cave people, blinded by light so fantastic, by a sense of belonging so exquisite I could scarcely recall what it was like as a lone heroine in a world beyond the cave. How powerful, how cozy, the labyrinthine walls of the cave! How simple it was to join in the song that everyone sings, to pretend I was nothing before singeing moments, incendiary connections with other cave dwellers.

oh to be an illuminated one

The new song told me other things, whispered to me secrets whilst I reeled from one golden man to another. It persisted. I hid and it found me. In a particularly dark moment of gasping recklessness it blasted my eardrums until I could hear nothing else, and the cave dwellers moved as if through water. My eyes were opened and I saw:

The glittering cave world for what it was. Emptiness inhabited by empty people. Chains shackling even the most graceful dancers. A place of shadows and illusions and artificial light. A deep and dark sadness masked in grand robes of idle celebration.

And I fought it, as the dancers coaxed and pleaded for me to return, as hands clasped mine and my heart responded, as I remembered how cold, how gut-punching and lonely it could be outside the cave. But the new song now sung my name like an urgent mantra and my eyes could not help but see the fear and falsity driving every gesture and embrace. I saw a tiny pinprick of light, dimmer but more honest than the cave’s bulbs and flares and my soul leapt before I did and I followed it, the hollow cave song growing less and less enticing.

I emerged from the cave and morning broke, tumbling over me like rain, like rebirth.

… And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! –Matthew 6: 23b

So come out of your cave walking on your hands

And see the world hanging upside down

You can understand dependence

When you know the maker’s hand.

So make your siren’s call

And sing all you want

I will not hear what you have to say.

Because I need freedom now

And I need to know how

To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I’ll find strength in pain

And I will change my ways

I’ll know my name as it’s called again.

— “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons

This Charming Man

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in "(500) Days of Summer"

 “I love The Smiths,” Summer says to Tom, and from that moment, he’s a goner.

Oh, The Smiths.

I’m only half-joking when I say that the two most important questions I should ask when considering someone are: “Do you love Jesus?” followed by “Do you love The Smiths?”

Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to

They’re one of my favourite bands and when someone else admits to loving The Smiths or sings along to Morrissey’s maudlin lyrics, I feel an instant kinship. Like people who love Jane Eyre and John Hughes. It’s not like they’re rare things to like, it’s just that they’ve made such a huge impression on my life and when I meet someone whose life has also been shaped by these things, some groovy connection is made.

I was introduced to The Smiths by my big sister–five years older and definitely cooler–who passed on to me many amazing bands (but not Depeche Mode … ugh!), and it was probably when we were watching “The Wedding Singer” and I first heard “How Soon Is Now?” I was hooked. Douglas Coupland’s book Girlfriend in a Coma only intensified the infatuation.

I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does

The Smiths sang for a generation–not mine, but the one before it since I wasn’t even born when they first came onto the scene–they sang of loneliness and despair and heartbreak and yearning. Morose lyrics, jangly guitar riffs and mordant humour, listening to them causes me to lament growing up in the Noughties and not the Nineties. It makes me yearn for the easy slouchiness of original Smiths fans wearing thick black eyeglasses frames before it was hipster and for the chain-smoking and coffee-guzzling depiction of twentysomethings in “Reality Bites.”

There is now a romanticism that surrounds the 90s–it seems to me a simpler time of plaid shirts and ripped jeans and listening to R.E.M on vinyl in your friend’s basement. The Noughties have so much excess and polish–all honesty and sincerity is obliterated and entertainment is manufactured in a lab by billionaire cool hunters. Pop culture is sold in a bubble gum machine churning out the likes of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber and it’s gross. Give me Morrissey sighing about rejection and depression anytime, any day, anywhere.

Irish blood, English heart

I might walk home alone, but my faith in love is still devout

In the book Not That Kind of Girl by Carlene Bauer, one of those losing-my-religion memoirs popular among the “raised religious until I came to my senses” set, the author speaks of growing up in the Nineties and her constant struggle between being Christian and wanting to be cool–in the sort of ’90s intellectual New York City way. In the end, coolness wins and Christianity is something she “grows out of,” along with youth group acoustic guitar sing-alongs and ice cream socials.

Early on, the author laments that she “had given up on thinking Christian rock would give (her) anything as good as U2, the Smiths, or R.E.M.:”

The music I listened to was not at odds with Christianity. The Smiths taught the same thing that Christianity did: that humans, as demonstrated not just by the war and destruction raging around us but by the masses at my high school who loved Guns N’ Roses and New Kids on the Block, were not capable of choosing the good, the higher, or the true. They were always going to choose what made them feel good, what didn’t tax them, what allowed them to wallow in cheap sentiment and pretend that everything was fine. Left to their own devices, I saw, and Morrissey confirmed, we would not strive to perfect ourselves, to right wrongs, or to think of others. The world was indeed a terrible place. But the Smiths came from an island that had no use for God anymore. We were fallen, said the Smiths, but there would be no grace.

love in vinyl

I had a lot of issues with the memoir and found some of Bauer’s personal conclusions about Christianity to be unsettling. Mainly, that Christianity and coolness are mutually exclusive. Or, that having a deep and reverent love for The Smiths,Virginia Woolf, and the Norton Anthology of American Literature, and having a deep and reverent love for Jesus is impossible. Generally speaking, most (but not all) of Christians nowadays don’t hold to the belief that your faith restricts you to music solely performed by Republicans living in Backwater, USA and novels about chaste pioneer women in bonnets. If anything, some are so bent on being “culturally relevant” that their morals have gotten lost somewhere in the first ten minutes of The Bachelorette

There is a light that never goes out

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and cast judgment on what people choose to watch and the music they listen to. I myself need to take care that I only get on my soapbox and bemoan the flocks that throw their money to the industries that propagate the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises and Katy Perry and Justin Bieber from an artistic and critical standpoint and not a Christian one. Who am I to judge taste? Who am I to say what makes another’s heart beat faster and soul feel set on fire?

Spending warm summer days indoors writing frightening verse

I’ve long ago abandoned the hope that Christian music would give me anything as good as U2, The Smiths, and The Smashing Pumpkins (note the omission of R.E.M.) because I realized God was the one who created music, who created Bono and Morrissey and Billy Corgan who in turn give the world amazing music and I’d rather listen to them then the watered-down Christian version of them. Is the devil behind the secular music industry? I don’t really think so. Do we need to be careful about the entertainment we consume? Absolutely, but I believe it’s subjective and personal. If you don’t judge me for finding solace in The Smiths, then I’ll try really hard to not judge you for finding whatever it is you find in Twilight and Justin Bieber.

At the end of the day, I just want something honest and true. And I thank God for The Smiths.

One Thousand (and counting!)

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

So it seems I’ll have to add Ann Voskamp to my ever-increasing list of women writers who inspire me. After hearing about her from Christine and checking out her blog, I decided to purchase her book, One Thousand Gifts, from Amazon. It’s absolutely gorgeous and her writing style is infused with poetry. I’m reading it slowly and savouring it, which is just how I feel it should be read.

In the book, she works on making an ongoing list of God’s little daily gifts–things for which she is grateful. She keeps a Gratitude Journal (something Sarah Ban Breathnach also recommends keeping) and in doing so, discovers just how blessed she truly is. While it may at first seem trite (“I’m thankful for chocolate? Really?”), Voskamp shows how a heart overflowing with gratitude actually brings one closer to God:

I think how God-glory in a cheese ring might seem trifling. Even offensive, to focus the lens of a heart on the minute, in a world mangled and maimed and desperately empty.

I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.

–from One Thousand Things, AnnVoskamp. Zondervan, 2010.

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

I’ve started my own Gratitude Journal and I’m noticing that ever since I started recording the tiny little things in life that make me smile and my heart say thanks, I’m much more aware of their abundance. And when I’m noticing, aware, saying thanks, and recording, I’m in a constant state of prayer. Gratitude is a beautiful thing.

Here is a portion of my gratitude list thus far:

1.  receiving books in the mail

2.  finding old letters from good friends and rereading them

3.  yoga by candlelight

4.  napping under a thick pile of blankets

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

5.  a tree in Vineland adorned with tiny china teacups

6.  pictures of tea and personal tea rituals

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

7.  my Billy bookshelf stacked with books

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

8.  piecrust

9.  the craft aisle at Walmart

10.  pink toenails

11.  church bells

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

12.  personal, amateur photographs

13.  smooth black ink on the blank white pages of my journal

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

14.  a hot shower after shoveling the snow

15.  the sky turning light blue to orange gold at 6:30 a.m.

16.  dancing to The Smiths first thing in the morning at work

17.  licking honey off the lip of a teacup

18.  dessert first!

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

19.  thin steam rising from a coffee cup, dancing and curling

20.  listening to Nick Drake’s meditative “Black Eyed Dog” on my bed with my eyes closed as the sun sets and my dog’s  head rests on my arm

Repeat the Sounding Joy

Et Verbum Caro Factum Est: "And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us" -- John 1:14

Yesterday I experienced something of a Christmas miracle.

I went to the mall–which, on a Monday morning was busier than a Friday evening during normal shopping hours–to purchase a gift card for my workplace Secret Santa. It was a specialty store (the name of which I cannot mention in case my coworkers read this and the Secret Santa is ruined!) and predictably very crowded with long lineups.

I got the gift card, then went to the bathroom and into some other stores, feeling kind of grumpy about being in a mall, slipping on the wet floors with my broken, trackless Aldo booties, surrounded by consumerism and Christmas greed, bitter that I had to get a gift for a coworker. I was generally a big Scrooge McDuck.

As I climbed into the van, my mom noticed that my shopping bag was ripped at the bottom and stuff I had purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart was falling out. My gift card was nowhere to be seen.

I traced my steps through the mall with no luck. I waited in a lineup at the information desk to ask if they had received any gift cards from that store, but they hadn’t. I marched/slid back to the store, receipts in hand, hoping they’d let me purchase a new card or cancel the one I had just bought. I figured there was no way in hell someone would find a gift card of that value from that store and not keep it for themselves.

It turns out human honesty and integrity are still alive and well at the Pen Centre in St. Catharines. The store clerk informed me that some kind stranger had found the gift card in the women’s washroom and promptly returned it to the store. Needless to say, I felt ashamed for having such a poor attitude about the gift exchange and my faith in humanity was restored.

Something else struck me when I was at the mall yesterday. As I was waiting for my mom to come back from Home Sense and pick me up at the mall entrance, I could hear Mariah Carey’s version of “Joy to the World” piping through the mall’s speakers. Even though I’m not a Mariah Carey fan, the words of that song are poetic and powerful and it made me wonder if people realize that Christ’ s sovereignty is being proclaimed in a centre of materialism.

Whether darting in and out of stores with arms full of gifts or busting my buns at the coffee shop during the busiest time of the year, I can’t help but notice that nestled between the trite and silly songs on the loudspeakers about “Santa Baby” and “Frosty the Snowman” are golden hymns that have been sung every Christmas in grand churches and decorated doorsteps since the days of top hats and petticoats.

let heaven and nature sing

As much as we try to be politically correct and dilute the Christian origins of Christmas under piles of candy canes and gift wrap, the songs ringing through the atmosphere proclaim a gift too immeasurable to be fit into a box with ribbons and bows and too big to be placed under the Christmas tree. The beautiful lyrics and heavenly melodies remind us of the reason why we get together with our loved ones every year and exchange presents, why we take the time out to offer each other gifts of kindness, altruism, and love in the spirit of the celebratory season.

I have a big weakness for old hymns, and the ones we sing at Christmas have a special place in my heart because of the season’s significance to my faith. The lyrics are just so rich and sacred and there’s something so lovely about singing them with others; new life is breathed into songs written in the 1700s when sung in community.

Here are some of my favourite ancient carols. Their beauty is absolutely breathtaking:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing written by Charles Wesley, 1739

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 the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Joy to the World — written by Isaac Watts, 1719

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

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, 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,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, 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,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

 

O Holy Night — written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, 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 Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

fall on your knees ...

The picture above may be a bit tongue-in-cheek and I’m by no means anti-Santa, but the implications are profound. When confronted with the miraculous and majestic message of that silent night, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

For your listening pleasure, here’s another beautiful old hymn performed by one of my favourite musicians:

Dearest friends and blog-readers, my wish for you this Christmas is that you’d be filled with comfort and joy. The richest blessings for you and your loved ones.