Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent 2017, Post #11, Ancient and Traditional Christmas Songs

A Welsh carol from the 1700s.  

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O'er they spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night.

Love, to thee my thoughts are turning
All through the night
All for thee my heart is yearning,
All through the night.
Though sad fate our lives may sever
Parting will not last forever,
There's a hope that leaves me never,
All through the night.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express

I went to see this yesterday, mostly because I can't pass up an Agatha Christie.  I am a student of the detective fiction genre.  I'm writing one now, and I'm reading Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, in which all the tropes of the detective genre are created.  Wilkie doesn't get enough credit; he's a genius.  The narrative technique, the characters, the method, it's all there.  There would have been no Sherlock Holmes without Wilkie Collins, writing much earlier.

Anyway, back to the movie.  It's good, worth a watch, but it is not an accurate portrayal of Hercule Poirot, by a long shot.  Poirot is fussy and very fat; he lives in his head and his body enjoys the food; he doesn't chase criminals down bridge scaffolding.  So don't go looking for faithfulness.

It was still fun, though, and moving.  I think they changed the ending--(spoiler, but most know the plot)--instead of them all happening to be there, they are recruited and are the only passengers on the train, which should have been suspicious in the first place. 

Hyperbole, Growth, and Eight-Year-old Tweets

Someone recently mentioned that with the flood of sexual harassment complaints going back decades and re-surfaced tweets from eight or nine years ago, a new precedent is being set.  Even if the guilty person has grown and changed in the subsequent time, it doesn't matter.  Jobs must be lost and the guilty must be punished.  I'm not talking about ongoing behavior, a la the self-righteous Matt Lauer and pig Harvey Weinstein.  I'm talking about something done when a person was young and stupid and hasn't done for years.

The new precedent has a law of unintended consequences:  Why bother to change if what you do is going to follow you forever?  You're doomed; your fate is determined by your mistakes.  

I am glad God doesn't hold us to that standard.

However, I think we Christian fall into a different type of hyperbole.  I heard a well known speaker say the other day on the radio (oh, we must fill up air time and blogs and websites!) "Herod was living his own way, he was the king on his own throne."  And then the kicker, "Just like us."

Umm, excuse me? 

Do we have to make a spiritual lesson by saying all of us are like Herod, a genocidal maniac? Anyone with a sane mind would say, "Wait a minute.  I'm not Herod.  I'm a sinner, I need forgiveness, but give me a break. Is this what I signed up for?  Being called Herod for the rest of my life despite trying to live for God?"

Our hyperbole will be the death of us. 

Advent 2017, #10, Traditional Carols; Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

I was reading Philippians 2:5-11 for a future teaching assignment and thought that this hymn contains more theological knowledge about the incarnation.  It dates from mid-1800s.  Too many of the Christmas carols get stuck on mangers, barns, and animals rather than the Incarnation's mystery.

1 Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

2 Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

3 The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

4 Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

5 When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying "Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee."
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Advent 2017, Post #9, Ancient/Traditional Christmas Carols

This one, by William Chatterton Dix, and whose title is the first line, is sung to "For the Beauty of the Earth." 
1. As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led by Thee!

2. As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to Thy lowly bed,
There to bend the knee before
Thee whom heaven and earth adore,
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy-seat!

3. As they offered gifts most rare
At Thy cradle, rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King!

4. Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And when earthly things are past.
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

5. In the heavenly country bright
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down.
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Advent 2017, Post #8, Traditional Christmas Carols

A few thoughts:  There are websites where one can find ancient carols, so I don't want to overdo here.  This one is from the 1840s in England, written by a woman who would become a Anglican bishop's wife:  Cecil Alexander.  Cecil is seen as a man's name today, but Beverly used to be a man's name, so these things change.

We were supposed to travel this weekend but this sudden snow in North Georgia has prevented that, so I am home to enjoy a weekend by myself of hot chocolate and decorating a tree.  And listening to carols. 

Once in Royal David's city
   Stood a lowly cattle shed.
Where a mother laid her baby
   In a manger for His bed.
Mary was that mother mild,
   Jesus Christ that little child.

He came down to earth from Heaven,
   Who is God and Lord of all.
And his shelter was a stable,
   And his cradle was a stall.
With the poor and mean and lowly,
   Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

And our eyes at last shall see Him
   Through His own redeeming love,
For that child so dear and gentle
   Is our Lord in Heaven above;
And He leads His children on
   To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor, lowly stable,
   With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in Heaven,
   Set at God's right hand on high,
When, like stars, His children crowned
   All in white, shall wait around.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Advent 2017, Post #7, Ancient Christmas Carols

While Shepherd Watched their Flocks by Night
1. While Shepherds watch'd their Flocks by Night,
     All seated on the Ground,
The Angel of the Lord came down,
     And Glory Shone all around.
2. "Fear not, said he, (for mighty Dread
     Had seiz'd their troubled Mind)
Glad Tidings of great Joy I bring
     To you and all mankind.
3. To you in David's Town this Day
    Is born of David's Line,
   A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord;
    And this shall be the Sign.
4. The heav'nly Babe you there shall find
     To human View display'd.
    All meanly wrapt in swaddling Bands,
    And in a Manger laid.
5.  Thus spake the Seraph, and forthwith
      Appeared a shining Throng
  Of Angels praising God, and thus
      Addressed their joyful Song:
6. "All glory be to God on high,
      And to the earth be Peace;
Good Will, henceforth, from Heaven to Men
      Begin and never cease.

Advent 2017, Post #11, Ancient and Traditional Christmas Songs

A Welsh carol from the 1700s.   Sleep my child and peace attend thee, All through the night Guardian angels God will send thee, All throug...