Dec 24, 2011

The Wish

The Wish

We all have a Christmas wish
A place to dream or make a list
Of the things that we have waited for all year
But of all the dreams I've ever had
There's none I've wished for quite as bad
As the one I'll tell you now if you will hear

I wish I were the lamb
That night in Bethlehem
That gladly shared the stable and some hay
I wish I were the star that guided from afar
The wise men to the place where Jesus lay
But in a place my feet have never trod

Somewhere in the heart of God
That little babe that seemed without a care
Cared for me and I believe that I was there
If I could travel back in time
To any place I had in mind
I know I'd choose the time of Jesus birth

I'd like to be a witness of
When God the Son came down in love
And the angels sang out peace to men on earth.
I wish I were the lamb
That night in Bethlehem
That gladly shared the stable and some hay

I wish I were the star that guided from afar
The wise men to the place where Jesus lay
But in a place my feet have never trod
Somewhere in the heart of God
That little babe that seemed without a care
Cared for me and I believe that I was there

© Debbie Wicker


Dec 19, 2011

Church Bulletin, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011

Christmas Carols - O Come, O Come, Immanuel

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-star, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads to Thee,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come to lead us Adonai,
Who to the tribes on height of Sinai
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

The Story behind “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is probably the oldest Christmas carol still sung today This popular hymn dates back to the ninth century and represents an important and ancient series of services celebrated by the Catholic church. It also presents the different biblical roles that the church believed Jesus fulfilled. The universal nature of faith presented in this song can now be best seen by the fact that it has crossed over from a hymn sung in Latin and used in only formal Catholic masses to a carol translated into, scores of languages and embraced by every Christian denom­ination in the world.

The writer of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is unknown. He was no doubt a monk or priest who penned the words before 800 A.D. He was also a scholar with a rich knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments. Once completed, the hymn was evidently picked up by many European churches and monasteries and became an intensely important part of the church. Yet for fifty-one weeks of each year it was ignored, saved for a single week of Advent vespers leading up to the celebration of Christ's birth.

In its original form, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” was known as a song of the "Great Antiphons" or “Great O's." The Latin text, framed in the original seven different verses, represented the different biblical views of the Messiah. One verse per day was sung or chanted during the last seven days before Christmas.

Much more than the very simple, almost monotone melody employed at the time, the words painted a rich illustration of the many biblical prophesies fulfilled by Christ's birth. So the story of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is really a condensed study of the Bible's view of the Messiah-who he was, what lie represented and why lie had to come to Earth. Even to this day, if one is a proficient Bible student, the song's lyrics reveal the unfolding story of the Messiah.

For the people of the Dark Ages-few of whom read or had access to the Bible-the song was one of the few examples of the full story of how the New and Old Testament views of the Mes­siah came together in the birth and life of Jesus. Because it brought the story of Christ the Savior to life during hundreds of years of ignorance and darkness, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” ranks as one of the most important songs in the history of the Christian faith.

The song owes its worldwide acceptance to a man named John Mason Neale. Born on January 24, 1818, this Anglican priest was educated at Trinity College in Cambridge. Brilliant, a man who could write and speak more than twenty languages, he should have been destined for greatness, yet many feared his intelligence and insight. At the time, church leaders thought lie was too evangelical, too progressive, and too much a free­thinker to be allowed to influence the masses. So rather than get a pastorate in London, Neale was sent by the church to the Madiera Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Pushed out of the spotlight and given the position of warden in an all but forgotten locale, it was expected that he and his ideas would never again find root in England. Yet Neale refused to give up on God or his own calling. On a salary of just twenty-seven pounds a year he established the Sisterhood of St. Margaret. From this order he began an orphanage, a school for girls and a house of refuge for prostitutes. And these noble ministries were just the beginning.

When he wasn't ministering to those who could truly be called “the least of these,” the often frail and sickly Neale reviewed every facet of Scripture and Scripture-based writing he could find. It was during these studies that lie came across the Latin chant “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in a book called Psalteroium Cantionum Catholicarum. Seizing on the importance of the song's inspired text, Neale translated the words into Eng­lish. Interestingly, in his initial work, the lyrics began, “Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel”

The tune that went with Neale's translation had been used for some years in Latin text versions of the song. “Veni Emmanuel” was a fifteenth century processional that originated in a community of French Franciscan nuns living in Lisbon, Portugal. Neale's translation of the lyrics coupled with “Veni Emmanuel” was first published in the 185Os in England. Within twenty-five years, Neale's work, later cut to five verses and called “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” grew in popularity throughout Europe and America.

Although sung countless times each Christmas, much of the song's rich meaning seems to have been set aside or lost. While both men-the ancient monk and the exiled priest-would probably be amazed that any still remember their work, the fact that few realize the full impact of the words would no doubt disappoint them greatly. After all, to sing a song and not feel the power and majesty of its meaning trivializes both the music and the lyrics.

The first verse of the song is taken from Isaiah 7: 14 and Matthew 1:23. It introduces Emmanuel-“God with us”-and Israel as a symbol for the Christian world, held captive on a dark and sinful Earth.

Isaiah 11 serves as the theme for the verse that begins “O come, thou rod of Jesse, free" (in some translations this is called the "Branch of Jesse"). In it the rod of Jesse represents Christ, who is the only one who can defeat Satan and bring eternal life to all those who follow him.

“O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer” presents the image of the morning star, a concept that can be traced back to Malachi 4:2. In this verse, the song states that the coming Savior will bring justice, honesty, and truth. He will enlighten and cast out darkness as "The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.”

The lyrics then turn to "O come, thou key of David," a reference to Isaiah
22:22. The words in this verse explain that the newborn King holds the key to the heavenly kingdom and there is no way to get into the kingdom but through Him.

The verse that begins “O come, O come, Adonai” (in some texts this reads “O come, thou wisdom from on high”) centers on the source of true wisdom. This comes only from God through his Son. Through the Savior, this wisdom can reach around the world and bring peace and understanding to all men. Thus, Christ's teachings and examples fulfilled all Old Testament prophesies.

Even today, when sung in a public hall by a small group of carolers or during a television special, the original chants of long forgotten monks can almost be heard. Although translated into scores of languages and sung in wild variety of styles and arrangements, the simplistic yet spiritual nature of the song remains intact. It is reverent, a tribute to not only the birth of God's child but also to the fulfillment of God's promise to deliver his children from the world. In this simple hut brilliant song, the echoed voices of clerics from the past gently urge today’s world to accept and worship the King who fulfills God's greatest promise to his children.

Excerpted from Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins, a 2001 publication distributed by Zondervan

Dec 15, 2011

Christmas Carols - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

The music is from the second chorus of a contata by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) written in 1840 to commemorate Johann Gutenberg and the invention of printing. The words are from a hundred years earlier, written in 1739 by Charles Wesley whose brother, John, founded the Methodist Church. "Hark, how the welkin (heaven) rings," he orginally wrote.

A colleague, the Calvinist Whitefield, substituted the familiar opening line over the protests of the author. In 1855, after both Wesley and Mendelssohn were dead, Dr. William Cummings put the words and music together in spite of evidence that neither author nor composer would have approved.

[Note: Mendelssohn had made it clear that his music was for secular use, and Wesley had specifically requested slow solemn music for his words.]

Sometimes given the English spelling, Nowell, it first appeared in print in England in a collection of William Sandys (1833). The words and music are traditional. Most think it is from 16th or 17th century France; others claim it never had any French origins and is very English.
Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Dec 13, 2011

Christmas Carols - Joy To The World

Joy To The World

The Scripture-based words of Joy To the World were written by renowned Methodist Minister Isaac Watts in 1719. The original music score is attributed entirely to Handel. The music familiar to this current generation was adapted from various songs and composers (including Handel) into an arrangement by Lowell Mason.

Lowell Mason (1792-1872) was at the forefront of radical changes to music practices of his day. He is considered largely responsible for introducing music into the American public school system. As music director of a large Presbyterian church, he boldly changed the accepted program format from that of professional choirs and orchestras to congregational singing accompanied by organ music. One can almost hear the excitement of his congregation in 1836 as they lifted their voices with freedom to sing for the first time, Joy To the World.

Joy To the World

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Article written by Connie Ruth Christiansen

Dec 11, 2011

Christmas Carols - O Holy Night

O Holy Night

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 Spirit 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, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, 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 he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

The Amazing Story of 'O Holy Night'

By Ace Collins

Declared 'unfit for church services' in France and later embraced by U.S. abolitionists, the song continues to inspire.

The strange and fascinating story of "O Holy Night" began in France, yet eventually made its way around the world. This seemingly simple song, inspired by a request from a clergyman, would not only become one of the most beloved anthems of all time, it would mark a technological revolution that would forever change the way people were introduced to music.

In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was the commissionaire of wines in a small French town. Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Placide when his parish priest asked the commissionaire to pen a poem for Christmas mass. Nevertheless, the poet was honored to share his talents with the church.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France's capital city, Placide Cappeau considered the priest's request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, "Cantique de Noel" had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his "Cantique de Noel" was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician's hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help.

The son of a well-known classical musician, Adolphe had studied in the Paris conservatoire. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world. Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adolphe the words of "Cantique de Noel" represented a day he didn't celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau's beautiful words. Adams' finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve

Initially, "Cantique de Noel" was wholeheartedly accepted by the church in France and the song quickly found its way into various Catholic Christmas services. But when Placide Cappeau walked away from the church and became a part of the socialist movement, and church leaders discovered that Adolphe Adams was a Jew, the song--which had quickly grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France--was suddenly and uniformly denounced by the church. The heads of the French Catholic church of the time deemed "Cantique de Noel" as unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion." Yet even as the church tried to bury the Christmas song, the French people continued to sing it, and a decade later a reclusive American writer brought it to a whole new audience halfway around the world.

Not only did this American writer--John Sullivan Dwight--feel that this wonderful Christmas song needed to be introduced to America, he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: "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." The text supported Dwight's own view of slavery in the South. Published in his magazine, Dwight's English translation of "O Holy Night" quickly found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War.

Back in France, even though the song had been banned from the church for almost two decades, many commoners still sang "Cantique de Noel" at home. Legend has it that on Christmas Eve 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous," the beginning of "Cantique de Noel."

After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out of his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel noch, da komm' ich her. Ich bring' euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring' ich so viel, Davon ich sing'n und sagen will," the beginning of Martin Luther's robust "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come."

The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of Christmas day. Perhaps this story had a part in the French church once again embracing "Cantique de Noel" in holiday services.

Adams had been dead for many years and Cappeau and Dwight were old men when on Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden--a 33-year-old university professor and former chief chemist for Thomas Edison--did something long thought impossible. Using a new type of generator, Fessenden spoke into a microphone and, for the first time in history, a man's voice was broadcast over the airwaves: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed," he began in a clear, strong voice, hoping he was reaching across the distances he supposed he would.

Shocked radio operators on ships and astonished wireless owners at newspapers sat slack-jawed as their normal, coded impulses, heard over tiny speakers, were interrupted by a professor reading from the gospel of Luke. To the few who caught this broadcast, it must have seemed like a miracle--hearing a voice somehow transmitted to those far away. Some might have believed they were hearing the voice of an angel.

Fessenden was probably unaware of the sensation he was causing on ships and in offices; he couldn't have known that men and women were rushing to their wireless units to catch this Christmas Eve miracle. After finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, Fessenden picked up his violin and played "O Holy Night," the first song ever sent through the air via radio waves. When the carol ended, so did the broadcast--but not before music had found a new medium that would take it around the world.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, "O Holy Night" has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry's most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work--requested by a forgotten parish priest, written by a poet who would later split from the church, given soaring music by a Jewish composer, and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as tell the story of the birth of a Savior--has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created.

Reprinted from "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas", from Zondervan.

Sunday Bulletin, Dec. 11, 2011

Dec 5, 2011

Christmas Carols

"We sing them every year! We’ve sung them all our lives! As Thanksgiving ushers in the Holiday Season, we begin to hear their familiar strains on the radio and in department stores. As the days of December pass, we hear them more frequently – in pageants, programs and even by carolers who keep their tradition alive. Wherever we hear them, we find ourselves singing along! The carols of Christmas are the golden threads of the Season’s festive tapestry that actually turn on the Christmas spirit in our hearts.

But, as with so many familiar things, carols are such a basic part of our lives and our Christmas history that we often take them for granted. We hum them and hear them year after year, but we hardly ever think about the significance of the words or the origin of the lovely melodies. We can actually overlook the fact that somebody wrote these wonderful songs, and as a consequence, we miss much of their magic. I hope you will join me for just a few moments as we explore the fascinating history of the carol as a genre of music and the stories behind just a few of our favorites.

In their earliest beginnings, carols really had nothing to do with Christmas – or even with Christianity, for that matter. The melodies were originally written to accompany an ancient dance form called the circle dance which was associated with fertility rites and pagan festivities in the medieval Celtic countries of Europe. As the Christian Church established itself in these areas, the familiar melodies and rhythms of carols found their way into Christian meetings and celebrations. But because the songs had such pagan roots, the Church was very uneasy about them for a long time. In fact, a Church Council in the mid-Seventh Century explicitly forbade Christians to sing carols, and the Church continued to frown on carols well into the Twelfth Century. (See, kids, the old fogies have always been against hip music!)

As the austerity of medieval Christianity began to soften, a kind of renaissance took place and carols merged with folk songs that were the Pop songs of the day – the songs that were whistled or sung by ordinary people. History credits Saint Francis of Assisi with bringing about a new interest in the feast of the Nativity and the Babe in Bethlehem. The priests in St. Francis’ order developed a style of religious folk song called a lauda. Laudas had happy, joyful dance rhythms that were so catchy and memorable that the song form soon spread across Fourteenth Century Europe. The religious lauda got mixed together with a popular pagan custom called wassailing, in which people sang from door to door to drive away evil spirits and drank to the health of those they visited. What evolved from the marriage of wassailing and the lauda was the custom of caroling, which is still so much a part of our Christmases some seven centuries later.

By the Seventeenth Century it was clear that everyone was having entirely too much fun! So the Grinch – otherwise known as the Puritan English Parliament – decided to abolish Christmas altogether! That’s right….not only did the carols get the axe, but the entire Christmas Holiday was eliminated. People who continued to celebrate the birth of Christ with happy and lighthearted carol singing were actually accused of witchcraft and risked imprisonment or death! It took several dark and gloomy decades before the prohibition against carol singing was lifted and people again began to write and sing carols freely. The popularity of the carol increased rapidly throughout the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, and it was during this time period that many of our favorite carols were created.

Which brings us to our first fascinating Carol Story and to one of the most prolific songwriters of all time. His name is Charles Wesley – all you Methodists will recognize that name as it was Charles’ brother, John, who became the patriarch of Methodism. During Charles’ lifetime, he wrote over 600 songs (quite a catalog for any songwriter)! One of his most famous lyrics is Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, which many theologians say is the entire Gospel of Christ in one song. The melody for this familiar carol was composed by the famous Felix Mendelssohn almost a hundred years after Wesley wrote the text. How did the words and music come together? Here’s the scoop behind the carol…..

The little known fact is that neither Charles Wesley nor Felix Mendelssohn would have wanted this music to be joined with these words. Felix Mendelssohn, a Jew, had made it very clear that he wanted his music only to be used for secular purposes. Charles Wesley, on the other hand, had requested that only slow and solemn religious music be coupled with his words. However, in the mid Nineteenth Century, long after both Mendelssohn and Wesley were dead, an organist named Dr. William Cummings, joined the joyous Mendelssohn music with Wesley’s profound words to create the carol we know and love today! (By the way, if you hear a slight whirring sound as you sing this carol… is probably just the sound of both Mendelssohn and Wesley turning over in their graves as they hear us sing the words and melody together!)

OK, on to the next carol! We have all sung the fun but zany lyrics to the Twelve Days of Christmas, but – if you are anything like me – you have absolutely no idea what the crazy images have to do with Christmas. Is this just a nonsense song? Not hardly!! The roots of this carol go back to that very depressing Puritan era in England when English Catholics were not allowed to openly practice their faith. The Twelve Days of Christmas was actually written as a catechism song for young Catholics to learn the basics of the faith. The True Love in the song represents God and the various gifts He offers to believers. The partridge in the pear tree is very symbolic as well. Apparently mother partridges will act as decoys to lead predators away from their young. So, in the carol, the partridge represents Jesus. Some of the other symbolic images are as follows

Two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments

Three French hens are the three eternal virtues, faith, hope and love

Four calling birds are the four Gospels

Five gold rings are the first five books of the Old Testament which give the story of creation and man’s fall into sin.

….and the images continue throughout the song!

Once you know the story behind the Twelve Days of Christmas, you will never hear the song again without being reminded of its deeper significance.

Now, we can’t ignore America’s contribution to our catalog of Christmas favorites! Did you ever wonder who wrote Jingle Bells? It’s one of the first carols we learn as children and is so much a part of our lives that most of us probably never even have thought about the fact that somebody really did write it! That somebody was James Pierpont and he wrote both words and music for the song which was to be part of a Thanksgiving program at his church in Boston back in 1857. Jingle Bells became such a hit that the children in his choir were asked to sing it over and over again every Christmas….and we have been singing it ever since!

Or how about O Little Town of Bethlehem? The writer of this carol was the influential American theologian of the Nineteenth Century, Bishop Phillips Brooks. Bishop Brooks wrote the beautiful words that we all know in 1868 in Philadelphia as he recalled a trip he had made to the Holy Land several years before. His organist, Lewis Redner, decided to write music for Brooks’ lyrics so that the song could be used by his children’s choir at Christmas. If anybody is still under the misconception that kids’ music is not as influential as more adult genres, consider the fact that both Jingle Bells and O Little Town of Bethlehem had their starts in kids’ Christmas programs!

And that brings us to one of the most beloved of all the carols – the lovely and elegant, Silent Night. The story behind this carols started way back in 1816 in Austria when a pastor named Joseph Mohr wrote the simple words as a poem. Then, as Destiny would have it, two years later on Christmas Eve, the organ in Pastor Mohr’s church broke down just before the Christmas Mass. Determined that the Mass should not be without music, Mohr gave the poem he had written two years earlier to his organist and friend, Fanz Gruber. Gruber immediately composed the melody and arranged it for two voices, choir and guitar – just in time for the midnight service.

But that was just the beginning of the impact of that simple song. The two writers of the carol thought they were simply doing something to get through a difficult situation with their church service. But almost two hundred years later, Silent Night is still the most performed and recorded Christmas song in history! In fact, there is a wonderful story about the song that comes out of World War I. On Christmas Eve fighting was actually suspended on many of the European fronts while people turned on their radios to hear Austrian opera star, Ernestine Schumann Heink, sing Stille Nacht. She was not only an international celebrity, but Ms. Heink was also a mother with one son fighting for the German Axis and another son fighting for the Allies. Her rendition of this beautiful song had the power to actually bring a few moments of peace to a very troubled world!

Such is the potential of a song and the challenge to us as songwriters. As you celebrate Christmas this year, let yourself experience and feel all the wonder of the Season….and then, let those feelings flow into your songs. Who knows? Maybe someday someone will be telling the story behind YOUR carol. "

Article taken from
Stories behind the Christmas Carols
by Mary Dawson

Ministry Outreach - NU2U Resale

Have you thought about being a volunteer?

Joel Ashby and Gayle, one of the staffers at NU2U.
Joel was able to volunteer at NU2U on Novenber 9,
because the company he works for offers a day's pay when you
volunteer at a local charity. He choose NU2U!

This picture is of the outside of NU2U Resale. It's located in Redford, MI.
We have taken donations from Grace Bible Church to this faciltiy.

The proceeds from the sales at NU2U go to help pay for students' tuition and the
school they operate in Detroit, Westside Christian Academy.
This was a dream come true for Daryl Ounanian and the staff at Westside.
And we're grateful to help in any way we can!