Songs for the Christmas Season: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

The story behind this lesser known Christmas hymn, Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne, is so rich. It’s written by Emily Elliott (1836-1897), the niece of Charlotte Elliott, author of the hymn, Just as I am. She was a devoted worker of rescue missions and Sunday Schools in Brighton, England. She wrote the song for the children’s choir at her father’s church there. She wanted to teach children the Biblical truths behind the advent season, and the song was based on the verse from Luke 2:7, “but there was no room for them in the inn.”

As a believer reflecting on the truths of the nativity season, I am humbled to think that the King of all Kings left His Royal throne to come as a lowly babe in a manger because God loved us that much.

The refrain is beautiful: “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, There is room in my heart for Thee!” In listening to this song, I’m always convicted to ask, “Am I making room in my heart, my life, for the King during the hustle and bustle of Christmas?” As a wife and mother and “Martha” type, I struggle with that. But reflecting on this hymn, and the true meaning of the season, I strive to be like “Mary,” who sat at the Lord’s feet.

Listen to this amazing rendition of the hymn by the great George Beverly Shea.

I’m getting the history of these Christmas hymns from 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth Osbeck. If you are interested in studying about the “story behind the hymn,” definitely check out this inspirational resource!

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It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

In the spirit of the season, I thought it’d be neat to look at the history behind some of the Christmas songs and hymns that we’ve all come to love and enjoy. Throughout this month, I’m going to pick out a few songs and tell you about their history and share a link to the song.

By the way, I’m getting the history of the hymns from 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth Osbeck. If you are interested in studying about the “story behind the hymn,” definitely check out this inspirational resource!

Here goes the first one Christmas carol … It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

This was a classic Christmas hymn that I grew up singing in the Mennonite and Baptist church that our family attended in Topeka. It was written by William Sears, a Unitarian minister in Massachusetts, and was first published in 1849 right after the end of the Mexican-American War. Musical scholars note that the hymn’s third stanza refers to “man at war with man hears not” may refer to the Mexican-American War and also the social strife of the impending American Civil War. This is a five-stanza hymn and while I am mostly just familiar with the first stanza the words from the third stanza ring true to me, “O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing.”

There is so much worldly noise around us, but at Christmas, focusing on the message and beauty of Christ and the angels’ pronouncement of the newborn King, helps me drown out the “woes of sin and strife” and focus on the good. Love this version by Norah Jones.

Tell me, how do you focus on the true meaning amidst the hustle and bustle of this season?

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Proverb a Day: Day 31


Here we are at Proverbs 31. I wish I could quote the entire Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character. Today’s Proverbs are dedicated to the two greatest women I have known in my life who are both in heaven: My grandmother, Ruth, and my mom, Jaya. My heart misses them every day yet their examples of faith and values found in this rich chapter guide me daily, hourly and even minute by minute sometimes. I am eternally grateful for their teaching, example and most of all, love.

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