The O Antiphons — An Ancient Advent Devotion

I love Advent songs and Christmas carols. I love the tradition, the nostalgia, the familiarity. Most of all, I love the way a good carol points us to who Jesus Christ came to be and who he is for us today.

One of my favorites is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This carol has its origins in a set of seven Latin antiphons known as “The O Antiphons” or “The Great Antiphons.” The verses may have originated as early as the 6th century. They were used in the Benedictine Abbey, being recited by leaders in descending order before presenting gifts to members of the community. The O Antiphons were shaped into Latin verse in the 12th century. Continue reading “The O Antiphons — An Ancient Advent Devotion”

Hope and The Last Rose of Summer

It is no secret that the end of the year can be a depressing time for some. The holiday parties and family gatherings are over—leaving us to say goodbye to loved ones or remember those who departed this year. The decorations and lights come down. The days are dark and cold. The trees are brown and the fields are barren. A year draws to its end, perhaps with reminders of unaccomplished goals and the speed with which life progresses, and we wonder if the next year can bring anything different. For some, the world and the future appear bleak. Continue reading “Hope and The Last Rose of Summer”

Singing “The Excellency Of Christ” by Jonathan Edwards

At the center of the Christmas story is the miracle of the incarnation—the eternal Son of God becoming human, fully God and fully man. We find the creator of all things in the form of a baby, dependent upon a mother and father to carry and clothe and feed him. This theme continues throughout his life, as the one who is the source of all creation trusts in his Father to provide his needs. He who is the life-giver is executed. He who will be given all authority in heaven and on earth submits himself to the will of God.

In 2004, as a young pastor, I read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, “The Excellency of Christ.” This sermon from Revelation 5:5-6 discusses what Edwards calls the “admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ.” It is an extended meditation on the “meekness and majesty” that meet in Jesus Christ as described above. That sermon inspired me to pen a hymn so that I could worship Christ in song for these “diverse excellencies.” Continue reading “Singing “The Excellency Of Christ” by Jonathan Edwards”

A Christmas Carol

The season of Advent is incomplete without the singing of Christmas carols.

This week’s song— “How Beautiful the Mystery” —is  based on a Christmas carol I wrote in late 2000 as the text of our Christmas card. (Go ahead. Follow the link and have a listen. You can finish this post later.) I set the original text of this song to the existing hymn tune “Manoah.” Ten years later, my friends David Ward and Jeff Bourque would write a new tune, for which we added a chorus and additional verse. Continue reading “A Christmas Carol”

When the Worst Thing Happens

Naomi is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. Her story is told in the book of Ruth (which, in my opinion, is misnamed—Naomi is clearly the main character).

This week’s song— “A Sweet and Pleasant Providence” —is a hymn based on the story of Naomi. (Go ahead. Follow the link and have a listen. You can finish this post later.) Continue reading “When the Worst Thing Happens”