Tag Archives: hope

O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul 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, O holy 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 came the wise men from 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 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 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 pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

Words by Placide Capeau, 1847
Music by Adolphe C. Adam,

 


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 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.”
Luke 2:1 – 14


 

Have you ever heard a song that simply moved you as you listened to the words. A song that made you feel that you were experiencing the story being told. There are three key components to a song having this impact. The first is the words. They need to paint a picture that is so vivid you can see it all. The second is the music. Does the music draw you into it? Do you feel yourself moving emotionally with the music? The third component is that the words and music communicate the same message, that they fit together. When the picture drawn in your head by the words corresponds directly with the emotional movement of the music, you find yourself becoming part of it yourself. This is the case with Placide Capeau’s “O Holy Night.”

Now in full disclosure, this is my favorite Christmas hymn of them all. The words and music seem to transport me to that night so long ago. When I here this song performed by a singer who truly understands the dynamic flow of the music I am left silent and humbled with a vision of God’s gift in Christ.

So as we look at the words we are presented with what I believe is one of the most incredible pictures of the meaning behind Christmas. The hymn begins by setting the stage of what is to come. “O holy night, the stars are brightly shining; It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!” That is the foundation of Christmas, what the angels declared in Luke 2:11, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

The birth of the Savior is not done in a vacuum, however, but in a world in need. The hymn writes, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.” Since the fall as described in Genesis 3 the world had been slowly falling apart, waiting for the hope of a Savior. This is what Paul tells us in Galatians 3:22 where he says, “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin.”

Their hope was not in vain, for Christ was coming. The song tells us that the world was on a downward spiral, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” There are many things that people try to use to fill the void within them but they are all meaningless. As Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 1:2, apart from God everything is “’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” But in Christ, there is hope, there is meaning, there is worth.

As the hymn continues, the music of Adolphe Adam changes tone for we have moved from the dark sadness of a lost and pining world, to the joy and excitement of the message of a new hope. The music combines with Capeau’s words, “A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” You can feel and hear the excitement, excitement that come from hope that is based in the truth. This is the message we find in Psalm 119:147, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.”

Again the music changes tone to that of awe and wonder as the words declare the only true response we can have before this Savior. So Capeau writes, “Fall on your knees, O hear the angel’s voices!” This is our response before God, as Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” The maker of the world had come to earth and we fall to our knees before him in response to the message from the angels, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

The hymn continues to tell us that this Christ has made brothers of all those who believe. As the writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 2, verse 11, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” For we are not just brothers to one another, but with Christ himself.

Oh, on that holy night, so long ago, Christ was born that we might be free from sins dark hold. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:14) Therefore, with “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!”

 

 

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Word by Phillips Brooks, 1867
Music by Lewis H. Redner, 1868

 


“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2

“No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. “Your sun will no longer set, Nor will your moon wane; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be over.
Isaiah 60:19 – 20

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5


 

I grew  up in a small town, (Well, technically, I grew up on a farm outside of a small town) and while it was under 1,000 people, it was a booming metropolis when compared to the town my wife’s parents were living in during the fall 1997.  The town consisted of roughly 45 people.  There was a Church, a grain elevator, an elementary school and houses, all located on 5 or 6 streets.  We visited them at their house for Christmas that year and one evening I decided to take a walk around town. Understand, we had been living in the suburbs of Chicago for the better part of 9 years, so what struck me was how peaceful it was.  I could freely walk the streets, literally down the middle of the street, enjoying the quiet time to myself. As I walked through that sleepy little town at Christmas I could not help find thoughts of the Christmas hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” running through my head.

This Christmas hymn by Phillips Brooks begins with the words, “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.” Bethlehem was certainly a small town with a population of roughly 300 – 750 people. additionally, it was not a place of major significance. This is why it seems surprising that Micah prophesied in chapter 5 verse 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” This simple small town held a great promise of hope.

So the hymn continues, “Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light.” This light was promised in Isaiah 60:19. where we read “you will have the LORD for an everlasting light.” God promised that He would come to a world lost in darkness and so Jesus is the light shining in the darkness.  (John 1:5) He is the answer to “the hopes and fears of all the years.”

Yes the darkness of this world can seem overwhelming, but Jesus’s everlasting light shines forth that we may see. So it is from this simple seemingly insignificant town, that light came to a dark world. It is a light that shines the way to Christ, who alone as our source of salvation. We, therefore, can humbly come before Him with the prayer, “O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

Traditional American Version

Traditional British Version (Forest Green)

 

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Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Words and Music by Helen H. Lemmuel, 1922

 


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1 – 2

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28 – 30

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5

For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.” And this is the word which was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:24 – 25


 

I always hate showing up to the movie theater after things have started. First, because it means I missed the previews, and sometimes those are the best part of the movie. Of course, when this is the case, I feel like I wasted my money on the movie.

The other reason is trying to find somewhere to sit. This problem doesn’t necessarily have to do with how full the theater is, but trying to see in the darkness. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. You come in from the lights of the hallway, and can’t see anything in the room. You then have to stand there a couple of minutes while your eyes adjust and you can see where there are seats available.

The longer you remain in the room, your eyes continue to adjust until you can see around the room without any problems. But if you step back into the hallway your eyes focus on the light and again everything else fades into darkness. This is the image that Helen Lemmuel draws upon in her hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”

Lemmuel writes, “O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?” The words draw our minds to Jesus words in Matthew 11:28 where He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

“All you who are weary and burdened”. If we are completely honest, we have to admit, that anyone who has spent time in the world, is weary and worn down.

But there is hope in this weary world. The hymn goes on, “There’s a light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!” When we turn our eyes on Christ there is hope that can free us from the weariness of this world. This is why John writes, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

And thank God that He has not abandoned to be on our own. Yes, He has given us a light in the darkness. And the light is found in his Word, which is a lamp for our feet. (Psalm 119:105)

We can then rest in the truth that “His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well.” As 1 Peter 1:25 has told us, “But the Word of the Lord endures forever.”

Yes, as weary as we are, as alone as we may feel, there is hope in the darkness that surrounds us. So when we turn our eyes on Jesus and “look full in His wonderful face,” then we will see that “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”

 

 

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I’ll Fly Away

image

Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Words and Music by Albert E. Brumley, 1929

 


I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
Psalm 55:6

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16 – 17

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as also I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ
Colossians 2:16- 17

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Psalm 90:10

So with you: Now is your time of grief but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:22


 

Children all over have found themselves in the same place every year. Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for the excitement and joy that will come with Christmas morning and the gifts that will be found under the tree.

But it is not as simple as waiting for the excitement of that morning, because these same children have been told that “he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake,” Santa Claus can see their behavior and it will have a direct impact on what they receive for Christmas.

So we find children behaving well and getting along with their siblings. We see them doing extra chores and helping out at home. In short, they are facing the the work of today, hoping for the joy to come on Christmas morning.

This is the theme behind, “I’ll Fly Away.” Brumley writes, “One glad morning, when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away.” Just like the child waiting for Christmas has an end goal in sight, so we who have put our faith in Jesus Christ can can face the struggles of today knowing that there is an end target. This is not simply an escapist dream as some have proposed, but rather a reminder that whatever comes our way, it is temporary, giving us the strength to face it.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 17, Paul tells us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The fact is we all face troubles in our lives that are more than we can handle on our own, but our focus is not on them but the promises of God. Our hope of the end day, however does not have us living simply in the future, but giving us the strength to live today.

But even when everything seems to be going right it is a dim reflection of what is to be. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that “for we see now in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. . .” No. we look not at the shadows that darken our vision, but forward to the day “when the shadows of this life have gone.” Because Paul tells us that “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16- 17)

No, we do not look at hide away living in the future that has not yet come. Rather, we live today with the strength we find in what is to come. It is because of this that we can sing, “Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away; To a land where joy shall never end, I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).”

 

 

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