The Songs of Christmas: O Holy Night (Luke 1)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 2: O Holy Night by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877)
Scripture References: Luke 1:49-54 (Mary’s Song); Luke 1:68-75 (Zechariah’s Song) 
These are the notes from a message offered Sunday, 2/2/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Have you ever played the Telephone Game? A person whispers a sentence into a person’s ear, who then whispers it into another person’s ear, and so on and so on until the last person whispers it into the first person’s ear. What usually happens? It’s nothing like what the first said. As things get passed along, they get lost in translation

In our Preschool Chapel, I asked the children what Christmas is about. They responded presents, Santa, lights, reindeer, cookies… It makes sense.  This is the dominant story in our society. Radio is full of Santa Baby and Holly Jolly Christmas. TV is full of Frosty and Rudolf. This same story of sentimentality, gift giving, and you better be good, goes on for months. We start hearing it around Halloween.

zombies in manger cartoon

Our understanding of Christmas gets lost in translation. In the midst of so many other Christmas stories, how do we continue to know and share the Christian point of view of Christmas?

We read the scriptures and sing the story, but it can even happen to beloved Christmas Carols.

O Holy Night
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O 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 the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weaknesses 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 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.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

How O Holy Night Came to Be

  • In Roquemaure France at the end of 1843, the organ in the church of St. John the Baptist the Evangelist was renovated
  • To celebrate the event, the parish priest asked Placide Cappeau, to write a Christmas poem which would be set to music by the renowned composer, Adolphe Adam
    • Placide Cappeau was a local poet, lawyer, and wine merchant. He was a free thinker with no interest in Christianity or any other religion

Cappeau accepted the commission anyway. To prepare he read the gospels, especially the Christmas story (Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, John 1).

Did Cappeau find something secular and commercial, no
Did Cappeau find something saccharine sweet, no
Did Cappeau find something soft and sentimental, no

  • Verse 1 O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
  • Verse 2 Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, with glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
  • Verse 3 Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.

The sweet, soft and sentimental came with John Sullivan Dwight’s translation of Cappeau’s poem into English.

Cappeau read the Gospels, and this is what he found:

  • Mary the mother of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, magnifying and rejoicing in God her Savior
    • for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, (Luke 1:49-54)
  • Zechariah the father of John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaiming
    • Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:68-75)

Cappeau found the Christmas story powerful and prophetic and that’s what he wrote.

o holy night verse 1o holy night verse 2o holy night verse 3

Though he never placed his trust in Jesus, Cappeau had a chance to because he heard the real story. He saw the truth of Christmas-

  • God coming in the flesh to deliver us, rescue us, and redeem us
  • God dying and rising again to break the chains of sin, shame, prejudice, and isolation
    • Especially powerful given O Holy Night was written in the age where many were fighting to end slavery
    • Especially powerful since the song was banned for a time because Cappeau was a nonbeliever and the composer, Adolph Adam was Jewish

Don’t let Christmas get lost in translation.
Take time to read the scriptures, sing songs of faith, set up a nativity. Claim and share this story – the story of God’s truth, grace, and hope. This is why we sing and celebrate the coming of Christ. This is why we bow before him in reverence and faith

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

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O Holy Night reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The Songs of Christmas: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed (Isaiah 42; Jeremiah 23; Psalm 72; Luke 4)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
December 1: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Scripture References: Isaiah 42:16; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Psalm 72:1-7; Luke 4:16-19
Theme: Showers of Blessing

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed by James Montgomery
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free;
To take away transgression, and rule in equity.

He comes with succor speedy to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, are precious in his sight.

He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in his path to birth.
Before him on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.

To him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end.
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever; that name to us is love.

Prayer:
Reign and Rain down, Glorious One
Salvation flows from your coming
Living water to our desert
to our frail clay
to our dust

Creation flows from you
New life springing up
Hope and wholeness
Budding and blooming in our wasteland

Let all the earth drink of you
The fullness of your unfailing love
Flood us and fill us
That we may carry this great grace as it carries us

Additional Resources:

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.

Jeremiah 23:5-6
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Psalm 72:1-7
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound until the moon is no more.

Luke 4:16-19
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Excerpt from History of Hymns: “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” by C. Michael Hawn
Montgomery began writing poetry at age 10, inspired by the hymn of the Moravians, the same group that inspired John Wesley. Despite flunking out of school at age 14, Montgomery found a job in 1792 at a radical weekly newspaper, the Sheffield Register. He assumed the leadership of the paper not long after when the previous editor fled the country fearing persecution for his politics.

At this point, Montgomery changed the name of the paper to the Iris and served for 31 years as editor, during which he was a tireless supporter of social justice. He was jailed twice for his radical views, using the time in prison to write poetry.

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

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Noel reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: You Call, based on Isaiah 55.3-5

ANSWERING-THE-CALL 1500

Growing in Resilience
Based on Isaiah 55
Bonus Reflection: You Call, based on Isaiah 55:1-2, NRSV

Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Holy One of Israel
of all
Your love is unfailing
Steadfast
Sure

You call

You call
Your mouth opens wide
Your hand opens wide
Your storehouse opens wide
Your heart opens wide

You call, “Come, children open your ears”
“Listen, receive the promises like food for they are life”

Come, Listen, Receive the Holy One
Receive the promises
Receive life
Receive the call

Come, Listen, Receive
Let the Holy One make you glorious
Alive

Come, Listen, Receive, and Join the Call
Call to those you know
Call to those unknown
Call to family, friends, strangers
Call, “Come!” so they may come
and listen and receive
and be glorious
Alive

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

You call © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: The New is Coming, based on Isaiah 62.1-3

image-beautiful-lady-white-lace-dress-holding-diamond-crown-fantasy-medieval-period-106222770Growing in Resilience
Day 23, Read Isaiah 62
Reflection: The New is Coming, based on Isaiah 62:1-3, NRSV

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

The new is coming and everyone will see it
The high and powerful will take notice
Those far away will witness it, too

The new is coming, it will be
Justice shining
Liberation blazing
Light in the darkness
Never overcome

The new is coming
Brilliant
Like jewels in a royal crown
Each chosen, unique, valuable
Carefully, skillfully, beautifully placed
Catching the light of right relationship and hope

The new is coming
Raise your voice, O witness
Shout! Shout, O bearer of Good News
Proclaim the promise: The Eternal is making all things new

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

The New is Coming © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: You Carry Me, based on Isaiah 46.3-4

shepherd carry sheepGrowing in Resilience
Day 7, Read Isaiah 46
Reflection: You Carry Me, based on Isaiah 46:3-4

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb, even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Faithful One
You carry me before my first cry
You cradle me in my mother’s womb
You make me me and bless me with life

Faithful One
You carry me into my becoming
You bear me into a wider world
You inspire me and bless me with purpose

Faithful One
You carry me into maturity
You hold me as my flesh falters
and fails
You assure me and help me pass on your blessing

Faithful One
You carry me into forever
You draw me to your breast
You save me and bless me with the fullness of you

I am born
I am borne
I am born again
You carry me through

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

You Carry Me © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Release, based on Isaiah 43.18-19

healing hand lightGrowing in Resilience
Day 4, Read Isaiah 43
Reflection: Lead On, based on Isaiah 43:18-19

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Jesus,
You open the door to all that is hidden and hurtful
That we might let go of
All that is false and destructive
All that we think will save us but will not
All the guilt and shame we needlessly carry
All the regret that suffocates our future

silent prayers of confession

Jesus,
We release it all to you
Trusting your power and promise
You are doing a new thing
You are making a way
It’s bursting forth in us and our world
Hallelujah!

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Release © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayers for a New Year

huge clock

Please let me know the artist of this piece that I may give him/her credit.

Gratitude for a New Year
For the blessings of today
which remind us of the blessings of the past
which point forward to the blessings still to come
we give you thanks

Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90
ONE:
Eternal and Immortal One,
You have been our refuge from age to age.
Before the mountains were born,
Before the earth and the world came to birth,
From eternity to eternity,
You are God.

ALL:
To you, a thousand years are like a yesterday
Like a watch of the night

ONE:
You return us to dust
You sweep us away like a dream
We are like grass
In the morning we thrive,
We blossom
But come evening,
We are withered and dry

ALL:
Teach us to number our days
That we may gain your wise heart

Fill us with your faithful love
That we may sing your joyful story

Show us your wondrous deeds
That we may see your transforming power
That generations to come may see it as well

Let your favor, O God be upon us,
That the work of our hands
May bear forth your blessing
And bring your glory. Amen.

penitence by larry poncho brown

Penitence by Larry Poncho Brown

Prayer of Confession for a New Year
As the new year is born,
We remember and regret…

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we keep You at a distance
When we defy your bidding
When we make it harder
for people to know you

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we deny our weakness
When we wallow in our weakness
When we take advantage
of the weakness of others

Forgive us, Holy One,
When we refuse Your counsel
When we waste your gifts
When we withhold Your compassion from others

Silent Confession

As the new year is born
We labor to look forward
Our hearts fill with hope
For you are making all things new
even us… Amen

A New Year’s Blessing
By Steve Garnaas Holmes

My hope and prayer and confidence
is that in this new year
God will be lovingly present for you,
and you will more and more deeply trust
God’s delight in you.
Christ will lead you every step of the new year.
The Spirit’s gifts will unfold in you in new ways.
I rejoice that in this new year
beauty will surround you; grace will enfold you;
love will embrace and uphold you;
joy will bless you, and hope sustain you.
May you receive healing and wisdom;
may your creativity flower and your courage grow;
and in your hands may justice and mercy flourish.
I rejoice that these gifts await you in the new year,
and pray that you receive them with delight.
I give thanks for the gift of sharing together
the journey of this new year.
God bless us all.

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Click Here for a collection of quotes entitled Counting Our Days

Gratitude for a New Year © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Prayer of Confession for the New Year © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use these prayers in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish them in any form.