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Dear Friends

A Message from the Manse


T’is the season to be jolly—when countless choirs are rehearsing for cheery Christmas concerts and Community Carol singing along with Nativity Plays and all the chaos enjoyed.

Music is central to Christmas celebrations. As we practise and prepare, I wonder how many of us  take time to appreciate what a rich inheritance we have in our Christmas music, with all its familiar words and uplifting melodies.

Martin Luther, wrote, “I am strongly persuaded that after theology, there is no art that can be placed on a level with music affording joy, peace and strength to the heart.” Take for example, that “glorious song of old,” we know from the Carol:

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

On a wintry night in Boston, 1849, a New England minister, Edmund Sears, penned the words that came to him while he read Luke Chapter 2. He sent the words to an editor, who published it. Sears was writing at a time of social unrest in the United States. This was the period of the Fugitive Slave Law, and Civil War was looming between the North and South. How could the hope of the Christ-child’s birth speak to such times? Sears wanted to express the longings of the toiling masses.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel—strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

This poem speaks just as profoundly to our world now, as it did then. We yearn for hope and need to be reminded that in God’s realm, love is the answer. We could not fit all the verses in but here is another.

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Meantime, God bless you this Christmas and in the year

God Bless


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