December 13, 2020

3rd Sunday of Advent

Text:  Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, Kolm, 1710

Music: French processional, 15th Century

Played by Piano guys

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.

REFRAIN:  Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, Shall come to you, O Israel!

O come, O Wisdom from on high, embracing all things far and nigh; In strength and beauty come and stay, teach us your will and guide our way.  REFRAIN

O come, O come, O Lord of might, as to your tribes on Sinai’s height, in ancient times you gave the law, in cloud and majesty and awe.  REFRAIN

O come O Branch of Jesse, free your own from Satan’s tyranny; from depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o’er the grave.  REFRAIN


Isaiah 40:1-4

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.  A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

This is another ancient hymn, the tune from the 15th century and text in the 1700’s used as verses during the four weeks of Advent.  Notice that in each verse, Christ has a different name: Emmanuel, Wisdom, Lord of Might, and Branch of Jesse.

Over the last several years we’ve had the opportunity to hear Irene Koenigs’ brother-in-law sing a joyful version of this hymn.  Even though it was still in a minor key (many Advent hymns are), he brought the words to life in a minstrel kind of way with his wonderful voice and guitar! We were invited to join him with the words of the refrain:  REJOICE, REJOICE!!  I will always think of this hymn in two different ways now…the slow chant of the 15th century and the Madrigal sound of Gary Altergott. — Carolyn Masterson


Dear Lord Jesus, we REJOICE in your coming!  Whether we sing slowly and contemplatively or with joyful  exuberance, we know your coming means salvation for us and the whole world! Amen.


December 13, 2021

3rd Monday of Advent

Text:  North American, 19th Century

Music:  James R. Murray, 1841-1905

Music:  William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921; arr. David Willcocks, b. 1919

Sung by:  Children

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger no crib for his bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head; the stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing; the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.  I love you Lord Jesus; look down from the sky and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in your tender care and fit us for heaven, to live with you there.

Luke 2:4-7

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.  He went to be registered with Mary to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.



This is a Sunday School favorite from my childhood.  We always sang this when the Sunday School would sing for church around Christmastime. –Carol Emmel

The simplicity of the text makes this carol a perfect one for children and yet…don’t we all want Jesus to be near us, stay close by us forever, and love us?


Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay close by me forever and love me I pray.  Bless all the dear children in your tender care and fit us for heaven to live with you there.  Amen.


December 14, 2021

3rd Tuesday of Advent

Text:  12th Century France; trans. Robert Davis, 1920. 

Music: Orientis Partibus

Sung by:  Tennessee Ernie Ford

The Friendly Beasts

Jesus our brother kind and good was humbly born in a stable rude.  And the friendly beasts around him stood. Jesus our brother, kind and good.

“I,” said the donkey, all shaggy and brown, “I carried his mother up hill and down.  I carried his mother to Bethlehem town” “I,” said the donkey, all shaggy and brown.

“I,” said the cow, all white and red, “I gave him my manger for his bed.  I gave him my hay to pillow his head.” “I,” said the cow, all white and red.

“I,” said the sheep, with curly horn, “I gave him my wool for a blanket warm.  He wore my coat on Christmas morn.” “I,” said the sheep, with curly horn.

“I,” said the dove, from the rafters high.   “I cooed him to sleep so he would not cry. We cooed him to sleep, my love and I.”  “I,” said the dove, from the rafters high.

Thus every beast, by some good spell in the stable rude was glad to tell  of the gift he gave Emmanuel The gift he gave Emmanuel.   

Luke 2:15-19

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us”  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.



This song tells the story of the animals that were in the manger during the very first Christmas and how they gave their own gifts to the Holy Child at the Nativity.

The Friendly Beasts was a favorite when I was teaching Kindergarten!.–Jeanie Harbeck

The origin of the Christmas carol dates back to the 12th century in France. The melody of which was based from the song, Orientis Partibus.  Robert Davis made the English translation during the 1920’s and was then featured in Burl Ives’ album, Christmas Day in the Morning, during the 1950’s.


Dear Lord Jesus, as we think of the beasts at the manger and what they might have brought to you as gifts, help us to give to each other the gifts of love, help,  trust, and understanding. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

December 15, 2021

3rd Wednesday of Advent

Text & Music:  James S. Pierpont

Sung by:  Willie Nelson

Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.  O’er the fields we go laughing all the way. Bells on bobtails ring making spirits bright.  What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight. Oh!

Chorus:  Jingle Bells Jingle Bells jingle all the way.  Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.  Hey!   Jingle Bells Jingle Bells,  jingle all the way.  Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh Hey!

A day or two ago, I thought I’d take a ride and soon Miss Fanny Bright was seated by my side.  The horse was lean and lank, misfortune seemed his lot. He got into a drifted bank and then we got upsot. Oh! Chorus

 Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!  Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!  Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!  Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!  Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! (AND JINGLE BELLS!) Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!



Jingle Bells” is a classic song sung at Christmas time, but it didn’t start out that way. First published in 1857, it was written by James Lord Pierpont, to be sung on Thanksgiving — not Christmas. … Medford, Mass., where sleigh races were popular in the 1800s, claims itself as the birthplace of the song.

I feel REALLY happy every time I hear this song. –Austin McGrath


Dear Lord, we know that you want us to praise you in all the wonderful ways that we can:  singing, shouting, playing trumpets, drums, bassoons, flutes, clarinets, bells (and yes even jingle bells) .  We thank you for sending your son Jesus to save us from our sins and bring us at last to eternal life with you.  Amen.

December 16, 2021

3rd Thursday of Advent

Text & Music: Chris Rice

Sung by:  Chris Rice

Welcome to Our World

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking; how we need to hear from God.  You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting, welcome holy Child, welcome holy Child.

Hope that You don’t mind our manger, how I wish we would have known.  But long-awaited holy Stranger, make Yourself at home, please make Yourself at home.

Bring Your peace into our violence, bid our hungry souls be filled.  Word now breaking heaven’s silence, welcome to our world, welcome to our world.

Fragile finger sent to heal us, tender brow prepared for thorn, tiny heart whose blood will save us, unto us is born, unto us is born.

So wrap our injured flesh around You, breathe our air and walk our sod, Rob our sin and make us holy, perfect Son of God.

Welcome to our world.

Luke 2:7

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.



There is something about this song that has always brought the truth of Jesus’ birth into fullness for me.  I’m not a cynical person, but I do find myself at Christmastime noticing just how much “sweet” is out there.  I am looking for a God who chooses to come and live in the broken world I see. I am searching and waiting for a God who doesn’t shy away from tears and broken hearts and the violence and apathy that is around us.  I am looking for a God who comes not into a golden clad throne from the “right” kind of family, but into a food bin for a barn animal, born to a poor family without a home. I need THAT God. I need the Jesus of scripture, coming to my world.  That is the ultimate good news, for me. –Pastor Matthew Rose 


Dear Jesus, as we come to the end of our Advent season of waiting, let us truly remember that you are a God who came into our world, a tiny baby, born in a stable.  In scripture you have told us that you are a God for EVERYONE. Amen.

December 17, 2021

3rd Friday of Advent

Text:  French carol; tr. H.F. Hemy,1864

Music:  French carol; arr. Edward S. Barnes, 1887-1958

Sung by:  Pentatonix

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains, and the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains. 

REFRAIN:  Glo—–ria in excelsis Deo;  Glo—–ria in excelsis De–o.

Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong?  What the gladsome tidings be which inspire your heav’nly song?


Come to Bethlehem and see him whose birth the angels sing; come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn king.


Luke 1:8-14

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  The angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”


This carol was a solo sung at our church during the Christmas pageant when I was the “Angel of the Lord”!  –Jeanie Harbeck

Way back when I was first working with Choristers at my church in Illinois (children’s choir ages 3rd-6th grade), I would try to get them to take a deep breath and sing through the WHOLE breath.  The refrain of this carol was perfect for this! I would tell them to try to get through the whole “Glo—ria” without taking a breath! Each chorister used an arching arm, moving through the phrase to help illustrate.  I honestly don’t know if I was the first to use that technique or if I learned it from Helen Kemp (my Choristers “guru”). In any event, when I see it used today to help Kiddos love that song and message, I smile!! –Carolyn Masterson 🙂


Dear Lord Jesus, help us to remember and celebrate your birth with wonder and child-like faith.  Amen.

December 18, 2021

3rd Saturday of Advent

Text:  African-American spiritual, refrain; John W. Work Jr., 1872-1925 stanzas

Music:  African-American spiritual

Arranged by Joel Raney,  Hope Publishing.   Played by Our Savior’s Praise Ringers

Go Tell It on the Mountain

REFRAIN:  Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and ev’rywhere.  Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!

While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flocks by night, behold, throughout the heavens there shone  a holy light. REFRAIN

The shepherds feared and trembled when, lo, above the earth, rang out the angel chorus that hailed our Savior’s birth.  REFRAIN

Down in a lonely manger the humble Christ was born; and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn.  REFRAIN

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as  children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying , ”Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.



Think about the fact that the refrain and music of this carol was “written” and then handed down generation to generation by African-Americans.  Then look at the scripture for today…God sent his Son to free the slave and make us all heirs of his kingdom! AMEN! and AMEN!


Come, Brother Jesus, Come.  Come to our family at home; come to our Church family and to the whole world.  We need you desperately, and with your coming, teach us how to love each other. Amen.

December 19, 2021

4th Sunday of Advent

Text & Music:  Alfred Burt & Wilha Hudson

Sung by:  James Taylor

Some Children see Him

Some children see Him lily white,               The baby Jesus born this night.             Some children see Him lily white,             with tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown, The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.  Some children see Him bronzed and brown, With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,        This Savior whom we kneel beside.        Some children see Him almond-eyed,     With skin of golden hue.

Some children see Him dark as they,    Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.      Some children see him dark as they,       And, ah! they love Him, too!

The children in each different place will see the baby Jesus face like theirs but bright with heavenly grace and filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing, and with your heart as offering, come worship now the infant King.  ‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

Acts 10:34-36

Then Peter began to speak to the Gentiles:  “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–He is Lord of ALL!


I love how this carol reminds us that we all have a different visual of what Jesus looked like as a baby and as an adult and as our Savior—Polly Mauer

Some Children See Him” was composed by Alfred Burt (April 22, 1920 – February 7, 1954) an American jazz musician who wrote between 1942 and 1954 an annual Christmas carol with an old family friend, Wilha Hutson. He would send the festive song out each year as an annual holiday gift. This was the one he wrote in 1951.

If you haven’t listened and watched the complete Youtube for this song, please go back and do that now.  A woman named Tina P. added all the photos to this beautiful rendition by James Taylor as a gift for her church.  It just brings to mind how we are all human beings, looking at Jesus as OUR Savior and Lord..that little babe in the manger.


Dear Jesus,  we are reminded that you didn’t come for one “people” or race but for ALL.  As we come to the day of your birth, help us quiet ourselves and come to worship you as infant King and our Redeemer.  Amen.

December 20-23, 2021

4th Monday-Thursday of Advent

During this week, go back to some of your favorite Advent Devotion days, play the music and review the words to the hymns and songs.   Have a blessed week before Christmas. 

Christmas Eve devotion follows this one.

Text:  Placide Cappeau,  1808-1877

Music:  Adolphe Adam,  1803-1856

Sung by Martina Mcbride

O Holy Night

O holy night!  The stars are brightly shining.  It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth!  Long lay the world in sin and error pining till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.  A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

REFRAIN:   Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices.  Oh night divine. Oh night when Christ was born.  Oh night. O Holy night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming with glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.  Led by the light of a star sweetly gleaming 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.  REFRAIN:

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 love ever more proclaim.  His power and love ever more proclaim.


Philippians 2:10-11

So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.



At a Martina McBride Christmas concert…just a single spotlight was on Martina and she held the high note on “Divine” so long and sung from her gut, that you couldn’t help but get chills!  It pierced the darkness of the “night”. — Rev. Tracy Gingrass

In Roquemaure at the end of 1843, the church organ had recently been renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest persuaded wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau, a native of the town, to write a Christmas poem.[1] Soon afterwards that same year, Adolphe Adam composed the music. The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey. Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music, translated the song into English lyrics in 1855.[2]


Oh God, our world seems to thrive on violence and brutality and the callus taking of human life.  Yet you teach us to love one another and promise to be our friend.  May your law of love and gospel of peace give me a thrill of hope, and embolden me to proclaim: “Jesus is Lord”!  Amen

December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve

Text:  Revelation 19:6, 11:15, & 19:16

Music:  George F. Handel

Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The Hallelujah Chorus
|: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!:|
|: For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!:|
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
|: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!:|
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
|: King of kings, and Lord of lords, 😐
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings,

Revelation 19:6, 11:15, & 19:16

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”

And on his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”



Handel’s crowning achievement, Messiah, was not an immediate success. In 1741, Handel was heavily in debt following a string of musical failures. It seemed that his career was over and he may even be forced to go to debtors’ prison. On April 8, 1741, Handel gave what he believed to be his final concert.

Later that year, two key events changed the course of Handel’s life and the landscape of music forever—his friend Charles Jennens wrote a libretto taken from the Bible, based on the life of Jesus Christ, and gave it to Handel. Then, Handel was given funding by a group of charities from Dublin, Ireland, to compose a new work for a benefit performance that would help free men from debtors’ prison. Handel would also receive his own commission for composing the work, which in turn helped him on his path to reversing his own misfortune.

In 1910 the Mormon Tabernacle Choir made its first recordings, which included the “Hallelujah” chorus; this was most likely the first recording of Messiah music outside of England. It was also the first recording of a Messiah piece to use an established choir, as all early recordings were made using temporary choirs comprised of provisional singers.

So, how did standing for the Hallelujah chorus become tradition? Well, here’s the thing — we honestly don’t know. The most accepted reason is that King George II stood up during the chorus at the Messiah’s 1743 London premiere. Unfortunately, Snopes wasn’t around back then to fact-check any of the reasons given for that ascendant, magisterial behavior. Some believe the king was so moved by the music that he stood up to show his reverence. And, since it was considered good etiquette to stand when the king stood, the audience had to follow suit. –from The Tabernacle Blog, 2016


Teach us to love, O Lord.  May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives.  As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior.  Amen.y

And on this Christmas Day 2020:

May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.