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Carol Lessons To Share (Video)

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Published on: December 21, 2022

The Common Core Diva Lynne Taylor joins me in this episode as we look back in history at many cherished hymns and some not so well know and the people that wrote them, along with the story behind them.

Articles, links, videos and bonus videos, along with additional resources provided by Lynne.

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  https://pianistmusings.com/2017/12/05/god-rest-ye-merry-gentlemen-a-history/

Then, this article (which I heavily referred to in last week’s show): https://tinybeans.com/how-to-incorporate-social-justice-into-your-holiday-season/

Resourcesfor Show/ archives:

1) Away in a Manger (this one is especially appropriate for children).  It’s also a song which falsely connects to Martin Luther.  See: https://bereketkelile.medium.com/the-story-behind-away-in-a-manger-dd459c0f05d3.  Family activity suggestion: Play “Name that Tune” with some of your favorite Carols.

2) Joy to the World (Not really written for Christmas, yet is one of the most loved) https://galaxymusicnotes.com/pages/learn-the-story-behind-joy-to-the-world.  As far as Isaac Watts, he was the son of a non-conformist father. His mother loved them both so much, she’d carry Isaac in her arms to visit Dad in prison. Together, father and son would sing hymns during these visits.. When Isaac became bored with their songs, he complained to Dad and thus, Dad challenged him to write a better one. Which “Joy to the World” became the results!

Source: http://www.surfinthespirit.com/music/watts.html  (*Note: Dad was a non-conformist for NOT joining the Church of England. As a result, Isaac couldn’t go to school.)

Family activity suggestion: Sing this one backwards and see who laughs FIRST.

For example, you’d start at the chorus and work your way to the beginning.  Instead of “And heav’n & nature sing; Sing nature & heav’n and”.  Hint: having the words to this will be more helpful.

3) In a Cave (This one isn’t as well known as many of our Carols, but is quite beautiful)
Lyrics (some newer hymnals may not have this. It was more popular back in the 60s)
https://digitalsongsandhymns.com/songs/8390

YouTube version in English:
Suggested family activity: Listen to this in another language and hear how much more beautiful it is:

*Note: the particular language being heard is an ‘endangered one’ (meaning not that many people use it anymore. This language “Tangkhul” is located in India*
See: https://www.endangeredlanguages.com/lang/73744) Angels We Have Heard on High
https://dianaleaghmatthews.com/angels-we-have-heard-on-high/#.Y5Ihrn3MKM8
Family suggested activity: Read Luke 2: 6-20, This is the passage which is stated to have inspired this Carol.5) It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
https://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/the-angels-song—it-came-upon-the-midnight-clear.html
*This Carol has quite a history and the author was a firm believer that human law and God’s law were not the same. As such, God’s law was supreme.

This is especially noteworthy as to the time it was written in and the events in America occurring. See the 3rd verse.
Family activity suggestion: Since this Carol, in some ways, was a ‘social issue’ set to a Gospel message, what are some we could apply this Carol to, today? Pray for those issues together.6) The First Noel
http://www.classichistory.net/archives/first-noel-carol
This Carol has English roots which appear to go back to the 13th Century! At that time, “Miracle Plays” were conducted to help illustrate Bible stories.
Suggest Family Activity: Play “Pictionary” to illustrate your favorite Bible stories or passages. How quickly will someone guess?7) O Little Town of Bethlehem
https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/o-little-town-of-bethlehem-1457973.html
How wonderful it is that we have this Carol as a result of a Pastor’s trip to the Holy Land in 1865!
Suggested Family activity: What trips have you taken (together or separate) which have inspired you to create something? Are you planning an upcoming trip? If so, think of ways to look for those events which could be inspiring.8) Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
https://www.forestbaptistchurch.org/the-story-behind-the-carol-hark-the-herald-angels-sing/

This one is one of the only Carols which not only sings of Jesus’ birth, but of His 2nd Coming, too. It clearly sends a New Testament gospel message. Did you know many church hymnals leave out the 4th stanza?
Family suggested activity: Watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” together. Where will you hear this Carol in each?9) What Child Is This?
https://galaxymusicnotes.com/pages/story-behind-the-christmas-carol-what-child-is-this
This is a ‘hybrid’ Carol. It took a secularly recognized tune and applied Christian words. However, it’s the story of the author’s life which is even more praise worthy! He wrote the words after severe illnesses.
Suggested family activity: Play ‘Mad Libs” with some Christmas Carols.See the attached file. It’s 18 pages and the Christmas Carol Mad Libs start on Page 13. (The rest of the pages are designed as a teaching tool for language). ENJOY!10) While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
https://interestingliterature.com/2018/11/a-short-analysis-of-the-christmas-carol-while-shepherds-watched-their-flocks/
This one is one of the first ‘official’ Christmas Carols in English Literature due to the 1692 UK Poet Laureate’s (Nahum Tate) association! He’s even been given credit to being the one who rewrote Shakespear’s “King Lear” ending so it would be more happy.
Suggested family activity: Gift wrapping assembly line. To play this have a few real gifts to wrap or some empty boxes (you could even sneak in a few surprises for the kids). Make sure you have them, draw names to see who will be the paper cutter, who will be the wrapper, who writes the tag and attaches the bow, etc. Set a timer for 2 minutes ans see what sill fun happens!11) As With Gladness, Men of Old (another not so popular Carol)
To hear:

To see the lyrics: https://www.hymnologyarchive.com/as-with-gladness-men-of-old
*Note: This is more of an Epiphany song, than Christmas Carol, so for a family activity, use this to go along with your 12 Days of Christmas (shown in last week’s episode. It also draws upon the Wise Men’s visit, so extra ‘bonus points’ for dressing as the Wise Men.)

12) There’s a Song in the Air (known as the Grandma Carol)
https://music.allpurposeguru.com/2017/12/beloved-christmas-carols-theres-song-air/
*Note: Why the “Grandma” association? Lots of older women claim this song as their favorite Carol. At least where I grew up. It also didn’t hurt that this WAS my Grandma’s (mom’s side) favorite. My cousin Debbie, during her recording days, made a tape of this for her. Both are now in Heaven, probably singing away with the Choir.
Suggested family activity: Christmas Bingo (see this website: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/printable-christmas-bingo-games-1356265 )

13) I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/the-story-of-pain-and-hope-behind-i-heard-the-bells-on-christmas-day/
This Carol can be tied to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s family and the War Between the States.Take into consideration this was another song written over the concerns of the times being seen, experienced and triumphed over.
Suggest family activity: Have a Praise God session where you thank Him for seeing you through tough times and how He’s blessed you with others to share the burdens with.

14) Angels, From the Realms of Glory
https://www.staugustine.com/story/lifestyle/faith/2014/12/12/story-behind-song-angels-realms-glory/16092096007/
Another song borne out of dire circumstances, this lovely Carol focuses on Luke 2: 13 and 14.
Family activity suggestion: Weather permitting, go outside and enjoy the wonder of God’s creation. “Bonus” if you go out at night and see the stars. Bundle up and enjoy cocoa!

15) O Come, All Ye Faithful
https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2021/12/10/christmas-hymn-adeste-come-faithful-241957
This Carol has been translated into many languages. However, note that when it was translated into Nigerian, some word play was definitely happening! It’s also said this Carol draws from the Nicence Creed, especially the 2nd stanza. (See: https://ourdailybread.org/article/frfts-o-come-all-ye-faithful/)
Family activity suggestion: Bake and decorate cookies (or if cookies are a ‘no-no’, create a fruit basket) to share with a neighbor.

16) “Love Came Down at Christmas”
https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-love-came-down-at-christmas-1
This is one of the only other Christmas Carols I could find written by a woman. Her name was Christian Rossetti. Again, another person facing strife in life. Her poem, set to music does give great credit to the Incarnate Christ.

Suggested Family Activity: Read 1 John 4:7-11, the basis for the poem turned carol.

17) Finally, our last Carol! This one is titled “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne”.It’s also the only Carol I could find written by a lady named Emily E. S. Elliot.

Her aunt wrote the classic “Just As I Am”, too.
https://hymnary.org/text/thou_didst_leave_thy_throne_and_thy_king
(To learn about Emily and read the words) To hear the song (which you may not know: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4Bf0IowI3kThe reason I wanted to end with this one, is it stresses our need for Christ.
Suggested family activity: Have a dinner and movie night OR a dinner and game night.
Be sure to say thank you to each family member present. Remember, being a family was God’s idea and just look at who He chose for you to hang out with!

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