Saturday, December 06, 2014

Sing Christmas Dec 6

Ding Dong! merrily on high
In heav'n the bells are ringing
Ding, dong! verily the sky
Is riv'n with angel singing
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis

E'en so here below, below
Let steeple bells be swungen
And i-o, i-o, i-o
By priest and people sungen

Pray you dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers
May you beautifully rime
Your evetime song, ye singers.

George Ratcliffe Woodward   1848-1934

This carol sounds very old, but in fact was first published in 1924. Its author, George Ratcliffe Woodward, had an interest in ancient poetry, and presumably just wanted to make the carol sound archaic. He set it to a genuinely old French dance tune, however; Branle de l'Official” was first published in the late 16th century.

It is a carol that expresses the pure joy of the Christmas celebration. It paints a picture of heaven rejoicing at the birth of Christ, and invites us to join in with the song in whatever way we can. It can be quite a challenge to sing, with its long chorus of Glorias, but the challenge often seems to make it more fun. It’s impossible to sing it without smiling!

The first verse, with its image of heavenly rejoicing echoes two of Jesus’ parables, in which he talks about a lost sheep and a lost coin. (Luke 15.3-9). Their owners search for them high and low. When they find what they had lost they call their neighbours to a party to rejoice with them, probably spending as much on the festivities as the sheep and the coin were worth in the first place! In the same way, he says, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine who need (or think they need) no repentance.

·         When did you last feel a sense of pure joy, and what caused it?
·         What is the most joyful part of Christmas to you? What about it makes you happy?
·         Have you ever resented the joy of others, feeling jealous of them or that they were not entitled to their rejoicing?

Bible Reading: Jesus said: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” John 15.11

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