Friday, 26 December 2014

The Carols of Advent: Part Three

        Good Morning, Readers!  I trust you all have had a wonderful Christmas Day.  Before the Christmas Holidays are over, however, we come to our final post in the Carols of Advent Series.  The reason why I chose to post this after Christmas Day, is because I believe that this hymn, though rightly sung during Advent, ought also to be sung year round, as I outline below.  But first, the hymn:

"Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

"Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

"Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate Him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!

"Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!

"Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!"

        As we come to the last post in the Carols of Advent Series (see Parts One & Two), we also come to a grand hymn of praise for the saving work of Christ, but also a hymn of longing for His second coming.  Written in the mid 1700's by Charles Wesley, this hymn, although sung at Advent, is nevertheless a hymn that ought to be sung year-round.  This hymn begins by referencing the text of Revelation 1:7 (ESV): "Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen."  It continues, making reference to Christ's saving work on the cross; of his coming not just as a King, but as a Judge, yet also as a Redeemer of His people.  And finally there is an awesome doxology of praise to the Trinity, and a longing for Christ's promised return.
        We should sing this hymn at advent, remembering the coming of our Saviour to earth as a baby, but we ought also to sing it every day, looking forward to the time when Christ will come again in His glorious second coming.  Those who are his have nothing to fear when that Day comes, but for those who have not placed their trust in Christ there will be just condemnation.  My greatest longing is for those who do not have faith in Christ to put their entire hope in him, and to that end I pray for you, reader.  Will you be ready for Him?

        "Now to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever: Amen." ~ Rev. 1:5 - 6

Written and Posted by William A. Moore

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Carols of Advent: Part Two

"Hark, a herald voice is sounding:
'Christ is nigh,' it seems to say.
'Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!'

"Wakened by the solemn warning,
let the earth-bound soul arise;
Christ, our sun, all sloth dispelling,
shines upon the morning skies.

"Lo, the Lamb, so long expected,
comes with pardon down from heaven;
let us all, with deep repentance,
pray that we may be forgiven,

"That when next he comes with glory,
and the world is wrapped in fear,
with his mercy he may shield us,
and with words of love draw near.

"Honour, glory, might, and blessing
to the Father and the Son,
with the everlasting Spirit,
while eternal ages run."

        Hark, A Herald Voice is Sounding is one of my favourite Carols of Advent.  I learned it when I was very little, and the verses have stuck in my head ever since.  The text that is sung nowadays was translated from an old Latin chant titled Vox Clara Ecce Intonat.  This hymn is believed to have been sung as far back as the fifth century, even though the earliest manuscript dates from the tenth century.  However, it was an English clergyman by the name of Edward Caswall(b. 1814) who translated the hymn into English in the mid-1800's.  He also translated many other hymns from their Latin text into English, but this carol is likely one of the best known from his works.  From the darkness of sin and death, to glorious light of Christ, this Carol of Advent is a wonderful and glorious song of praise and worship to Christ our Saviour.  As the apostle John said, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.*"

Written and Posted by William A Moore

*John 1:5

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Carols of Advent: Part One

        This is the first post in a short series for Christmas called The Carols of Advent.  In three posts before Christmas we will be looking at three hymns normally sung during the Christmas season and briefly studying their history and theology.  Here is the first one:

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

        "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" is a beautiful hymn of longing and hope for the coming of our Saviour. The hymn was written by Charles Wesley, who was a missionary and hymn-writer, in the mid 1700's* for the season of Advent.  Since then, it has become one of the better known Advent hymns sung by Christians around the world.
        In the first verse, the singer longs for the coming of Christ, both now and in the future.  Now - for we yearn for Jesus to set us free from the bondage to sin in our flesh; and the future - when Christ will release us from our mortality and we will obtain eternal freedom as children of God. The second verse points out that Jesus is truly the only Comforter, and comes to bring peace, joy, and freedom in the end.  In the final two verses, we first see Christ as the One who died on the cross for our sins - the one who came in the likeness of man, condemned sin in the flesh, and raised to the right hand of the Father, where he reigns forever. Finally, by His Spirit, Jesus rules in those hearts which trust in Him, and by his work, not our own, raises us as new creations once and for all time.
        As today is two weeks before Christmas, let us sing or read this hymn looking forward to Jesus' coming.

Written and Posted by William A Moore

*This hymn is one for which the exact date of writing is not known.