Twenty-five Days of Christmas Cheer: December 25th (Merry Christmas!!)

A very Merry Christmas to all of you!!

Here is a photo of our church’s altar and chancel decorated for the season. The service this morning was absolutely beautiful. It’s always wonderful to worship with fellow believers and to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

https://i2.wp.com/sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/s720x720/526874_530441610316448_1016219659_n.jpg

Twenty-five Days of Christmas: December 9th Sunday Serenade

It’s finally snowing!! At the time I posted yesterday, I didn’t realize we had snow coming today; now it’s been snowing since at least 6 am and it’s after noon. Soooooooo happy now!! Anyway.

This afternoon, my husband and I are going to be attending a German language Christmas service at another Lutheran church in the area. We went to this together three years ago, shortly after we began dating, but then circumstances arose the last two years that caused us to be unable to go. Two years ago, everything that day was cancelled because of a gigantic snowstorm, and last year, he was working and I didn’t want to go alone.

Today it’s finally beginning to feel like Christmas is just around the corner. Perhaps it’s the snow. Perhaps it’s the anticipation of the service this afternoon. Perhaps it’s simply the joyful message that I heard in church this morning: Christ was born as a babe for us and we no longer need fear eternal torment and separation from God because of our sins.

Here is a link to a Christmas carol entitled “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” for today’s Sunday Serenade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8rC-1MHFGo

Enjoy!

 

Twenty-five Days of Christmas Cheer: December 7th (My Favorite Christmas Carols)

Let me begin this post by mentioning Pearl Harbor. Please, as a nation (America), and elsewhere in our world, let us never forget what happened, both on this day in 1941, and the rest of the war. We don’t need to go through another world war. Yes, the possibility is there; it always is. As long as people disagree and become violent about disagreements, the possibility is there. All the same, let us never forget what WWI and WWII did to our world. World peace isn’t attainable, but we still must never forget.

****************************************************

Now, onto more Christmas cheer! I hope you all liked my post about St. Nick’s Day! Maybe it inspired you to think of your own favorite stories involving Santa Claus. Also, I didn’t end up getting anything done yesterday that I intended to. Days like that are frustrating, to say the least, but when the reason is that my mother-in-law randomly invited me over for lunch, I think it’s all good. She lives barely 5 minutes away when the weather is good, so yeah. Hopefully today I am going to do some baking. I totally intended to make gingerbread cookies yesterday afternoon, but yeah that didn’t happen. Today, however, instead of making the cookies, I am going to attempt to do some sewing first. A dear friend from my family’s church let me borrow one of her sewing machines, so I bought all the supplies to make an adorable Christmas apron, complete with ruffly eyelet! I haven’t done any sewing since last year summer, when I made my wedding dress, but hey, an apron should be a lot simpler than a wedding dress, right?! And I can’t legitimately do any Christmas baking until I’ve made my Christmas apron….

*******************************************************

So, favorite Christmas carols. Now, when I say carols, I am referring to the sacred songs about the Christ Child. You’ve already read my few mentions of my dislike for secular Christmas songs, haha. Now, I don’t hate secular songs; they can be lots of fun. Many of the classics like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Silver Bells” I really do like. It’s the modern ones I can’t stand…but that’s a post for another day!

Growing up, the hymns of the church were my favorite kind of music. I adore the pipe organ (as I think is mentioned in older posts on this blog), and I also adored the evening church services as a child. I still do adore them. There’s something quite special about worshiping the Lord in a sanctuary only lit by inside lights and candles. Anyway. I am going to list my top ten Christmas carols/hymns. At least I think it will be ten. Also, other than number one, these won’t be any truly particular order.

1. “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” (This was the first Christmas hymn I learned on the piano, and it was because I begged my teacher. Words cannot honestly express how much I love this hymn. Pretty sure it will always be my favorite.)

2. “Once in Royal David’s City” (Absolutely gorgeous hymn. The music is soft and soaring all at once and the words truly express the joy of Christ’s birth.)

3. “Angels from the Realms of Glory” (Another gorgeous hymn that lyrically expresses the joy our of Savior’s birth.)

4. “O Come, All Ye Faithful” (Any time I sing this one on Christmas morning, it brings tears to my eyes. Oh wait, they all do…)

5. “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” ((I think I adore this one for the poetic words. It’s just so beautiful.)

6. “Angels We Have Heard on High” (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I like any carol or hymn that mentions angels.)

7. “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” (Okay, so this one should be higher on the list. Penned by Martin Luther and clocking in at 15 verses, this is a wonderful, wonderful hymn about Christmas.)

8. “Joy to the World” (Help, I’m already at number eight! Seriously though, who doesn’t love this one?)

9. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (We always sang this one during the candlelight portion of our Christmas Eve service. I know it so well that I didn’t even have to bother with reading the words by candlelight…and I was usually in the balcony of the sanctuary anyway so I would stand at the rail and sing, the organ behind me and the candlelit church spread out below me…such a beautiful sight and feeling that always warmed my heart and brought tears to my young eyes.)

10. “Silent Night, Holy Night” (This one is the same as the previous one.)

Okay, I could honestly go on. I also love “Away in a Manger” and “The First Noel” and many others. But I tried to think of the ones that evoke memories that of Christmases past that I will never let go of as long as I live. The reason for the season is and always will be the reason that I and my family celebrate Christmas. I cannot listen to or sing carols without dwelling deeply on how and why Jesus Christ came to earth for us. It is the most important story ever told, seriously, and deep down in your heart of hearts, you know that. The Lord came down to rescue us from our debilitating sin by becoming one of us and yet sinless so that He could be the all atoning sacrifice and we would not be condemned to eternal darkness. All that He asks of us is that we believe. Faith is not easy, but it is the beginning and end of our lives.

I will post more about the Truth of Christmas when the day comes, and I dearly hope and pray that those of you who do read this blog will not dismiss what I have to say as religious drivel, because it isn’t.

Sunday Serenade: The Battle Hymn of the Republic

I love when Veteran’s Day actually falls on a Sunday. There is something glorious about being in the presence of God and specifically remembering those who have fought to keep our country free so that we may be in the presence of God and worship Him freely. This morning, our church had a service of a kind that I have never experienced before. (They do this every year for Veteran’s Day, but we didn’t start attending there until last December.) The sanctuary was decorated with American flags, we recognized both those veterans who have fallen and those who are still with us, and we sang some of the patriotic hymns that I adore so much.

One of these hymns is “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” penned by Julia Ward Howe in 1861. Below I have posted the complete lyrics to this gorgeous and emotional hymn, with the verses we sang this morning in bold.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

***************************************

Our country used to be a shining light in this world. I fear that this will no longer be the case for many, many reasons, one of them being our poor excuse for a President. I honestly mean no disrespect to the office of the Presidency, but when the man who is in the position does not respect it nor the country he is supposed to be leading, it is quite hard to respect him. Lord, give me strength.

I pray so hard for America. We don’t necessarily need to be the greatest nation in the world, but the freedom we have is precious and I would not like to see that lost. Not to mention the sad economic status that is going to put everyone in debt. Technically, we are all already in debt. The social issues are terrible, as well, because things like abortion, gay “marriage,” and “women’s rights,” are tearing our country apart. So few people value life and moral living anymore that those who still do get lost in the cries of “ME, ME, ME, IT’S MY BODY, IT’S NOT A CHILD,” etc, etc, etc.

So of course, now you know where I stand. I hope this does not keep you from reading my future posts, nor that you post hateful comments. If you do, I will probably delete the comments. Hate speech is not free speech; and that goes for everyone across the board.

**************************************

Finally, let me share with you a recording of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” from YouTube. It is instrumental, played on the King of Instruments, the mighty pipe organ. I hope you enjoy it. This has been Sunday Serenade.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

(Anybody want to help me understand why I can’t get a video to show up in my posts?!?!?! Maybe I should have stuck with Blogger. It was EASIER. Sigh.)