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 22

Read Proverbs 22

My mother-in-law grew up in the projects in Shreveport, Louisiana as one of seven kids. She remembers plenty of times when strangers dropped off Thanksgiving dinner or other meals on their doorsteps.

Now, each fall when she returns to her hometown, she gets together with her siblings to pay it forward. They visit the same projects where they used to live and bless the family living there with a bounty of food.

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Proverb a Day: Day 21

Read Proverbs 21

This verse is all about submission to God’s will. There are so many times in life that I strived to do the right thing and yet things didn’t turn out the way I envisioned or wanted. And at that point, as a believer, I have to let it go and be assured that I did my best, but victory rests with the Lord and it’s His will that prevails. I may not like it or agree with it, but I have to respect His sovereignty.

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Proverb a Day: Day 20

read proverbs 20

This verse is dedicated to all of the fine counselors and therapists I know. They are a special bunch of folks who can offer feedback, insights and so much wonderful counsel. It’s also dedicated to my niece, who is a psychology major. She listens well and doesn’t judge so I think she’s already on the right track.

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