Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sing Christmas: Dec 14

See him lying on a bed of straw;
a draughty stable with an open door,
Mary cradling the babe she bore;
The prince of glory is his name.

Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem
To see the Lord of love again
Just as poor as was the stable then,
The prince of glory when he came

Star of silver sweep across the skies,
Show where Jesus in the manger lies.
Shepherds swiftly from your stupor rise
To see the Saviour of the world.

Angels, sing again the song you sang, 
sing the glory of God’s gracious plan;
Sing that Bethl’em’s little baby can
Be the saviour of us all.

Mine are riches from your poverty,
From your innocence, eternity;
Mine, forgiveness by your death for me,
Child of sorrow for my joy.

Michael Perry, 1942-1996

Not all popular carols are ancient (and you may have been surprised by earlier carols in this series that aren’t as old as they seem, like “Ding Dong Merrily”, written in 1924). Every “traditional carol” was new once, of course, and this favourite of many, sometimes known as the Calypso Carol, was written in 1965. Although the title might make it sound as if it should be West Indian, it was written by an Englishman, Michael Perry, when he was at Oak Hill Theological College, training for ministry. He wrote it for a college carol concert, but it was somehow picked up by Cliff Richard, and used to fill a gap in a carol programme he was presenting. The rest is history. Michael Perry went on to be one of our most prolific modern hymn writers , and ended up as vicar of St Peter and St Paul, Tonbridge.
The carol is a joyful evocation of the scene in the stable. Mary, shepherds and angels gather around to wonder at this child, the prince of glory. But the point of the carol is that they aren’t the only ones invited to kneel at the manger. The chorus is a prayer for all those who sing it. “Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem…” This carol stands in an ancient tradition of imaginative engagement with Biblical scenes; St Francis built Christmas cribs so that people could imagine what it might have been like to be there, and countless artists have tried to help us be part of Jesus’ birth.

·         Imagine yourself in the scene. Where are you? Hovering by the door, or right in the centre of the action?
·         What do you feel and what do you want to say and do?

Bible Reading: Jesus’ mother treasured all these things in her heart.

Luke 2.51

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