Merry Christmas!

I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas. I pray that the Creator of the universe will make His power known to you. I pray the God who reigns forever as the triumphant King of Kings and Lord of Lords will make His holiness known to you. I pray that He who has conquered death and the grave will make His love real to you this holiday season and throughout the coming year.

You’ve heard Handel before. It is not quite as well known that The Messiah’s lyrics come straight from scripture. So, here are selections from Acts I and II, with along with the scripture references.

Isaiah 40:1-5

1. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. . . .
3. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4.Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.
5. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Malachi 3:3

1. The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in:Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.
2. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire.
3. And He shall purify the sons of Levi. . . that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Isaiah 7:14

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name EMMANUEL, God with us.

Isaiah 9:2

2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Isaiah 9:6

6. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:8-14

8. There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
9. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes , lying in a manger.
13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Zechariah 9:9,10

9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee. He is the righteous Savior.
10. . . And he shall speak peace unto the heathen.

Isaiah 35:5,6

5. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.

Isaiah 40:11

11. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; and he shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Matthew 11:28, 29

28. Come unto [Him], all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and [He shall] give you rest. 29. Take [his] yoke upon you, and learn of [Him]; for [he is] meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:30

30. [His] yoke is easy, and [his]burden is light.

Revelation 19:6

6. Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Revelation 11:15

15. . . the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever.

Revelation 19:16

16. . . . KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS.

Then sings my soul!

Over the past month or so, I’ve visited several churches around the state for different occasions (a baby dedication in Columbus, a baptism in Milledgeville, etc). One thing I have noticed is the stark differences in music from church to church. I love music in general, but to me a church service is not complete without hymns. Praise and worship music (along with other contemporary styles) has its place, granted. And, I’m certain it ministers to some who hear it. But, for me, church is not church without the old traditions.

They just do not write songs like that anymore. Take, for example, The Love of God:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

  • Refrain:
    Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
    How measureless and strong!
    It shall forevermore endure—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

The new songs do not come close to the meaning and depth of these lyrics which have stood the test of time. They fill me with such a sense of peace each time I hear them that is unmatched.

Our neighbors love music as much as I (and my family) do. Quite often, they will come up, and we will drag out the hymnals and we just sit around the living room singing. This past Sunday evening was one of those occasions. We had, as we normally do, a wonderful time. It is so nice to be able to sit and spend time with such a family!