Thursday, December 20, 2007
Last night our small mountain town held its first annual Caroling Party along the main street. The community church set up a sound system and had a keyboard, two guitars, and a few singers to lead the caroling, and a Power Point system flashed the lyrics on a white screen next to the singers. Many people from the community came to huddle around the portable fire pits, gripping cups of coffee, hot cider, or hot chocolate. Toddlers made up an adorable manger scene near the beginning of the evening, and after a few carols sung together, the community spent time chatting around the fire pits or in front of the tables laden with homebaked Christmas goodies and the scent of fresh popcorn from a popcorn machine wafted over the group. An hour into the two-hour event, the caroling itself began in earnest, and in the cold we gathered near the singers and musicians, and, still gripping cups of warm drinks, the community sang into the darkness, our breath creating grey clouds in the crisp night air. After we sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful," the woman standing next to me asked in which language I was singing, and I told her that this carol was originally written in Latin, and that's how I was singing it (thanks to Bing Crosby who sings it in Latin on our favorite Christmas CD and our kids using Latina Christiana).
The highlight of the evening came a bit earlier when we all sang one of my favorite carols, "O Holy Night." The lyrics are soooooo beautiful and true that I often find myself in tears of wonder at the love of God and how badly I need Him. I thought I'd post the lyrics to the carol here from our Advent devotional Christ in the Carols. I encourage you to read these words with new eyes and with a heart of worship to Our Saviour who loved and still loves this sinful world so much:
O Holy Night
(M. Cappeau de Roquemaure, translated by John S. Dwight, 19th Century)
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 soul 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!
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!
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!
A friend on one of the Yahoo loops I take part in mentioned the busy-ness of this season and was feeling overwhelmed by all she has to accomplish over the next few days. I so understand! Yet I plan to take my own advice that I gave to her: take a few minutes in a quiet place to light a candle and meditate on Scripture or sing a carol, breathing deeply (but not inhaling the candle smoke!) in order to refocus our minds and hearts on Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, our Saviour, whom we are "so busy" celebrating.
May we all keep our focus on the Reason for these Holy Days, and "His power and glory evermore proclaim" as the days of Advent wane and Christmastide approaches.