O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Veni, veni Emanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude, gaude, Emanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been reflecting this past season on a few of my favorite Christmas hymns. O Come, O Come Emmanuel has been stuck in my head in particular this season, partially because I have already heard it several times, but also because I have been digesting the words.

I decided to briefly inform myself about the history of this hymn, and the history is deep indeed. The hymn is actually a collection of Latin antiphons from the 12th century, a series of call and responses that might have been a liturgy in a medieval church. The melody is from a 15th Cen­tu­ry pro­cess­ion­al for French Franciscan nuns. The choir at our church sang a beautifully haunting arrangement a few weeks ago. Listening to them sing made me feel like I was back in Chartres cathedral in France, in awe of the architecture and the deep-seated history of such a place.

The verses are not only beautiful, but also have prophetic meaning. I will highlight a few:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel refers to Isai­ah 7:14: “Be­hold, a vir­gin shall con­ceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Em­man­u­el.” Em­man­u­el is He­brew for “God with us.”
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

The “Rod of Jesse” references Isai­ah 11:1: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jes­se”
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

“Day-Spring” comes John the Baptist's father, Zacharias, in Luke 1:78: “The day­spring from on high has vis­it­ed us.”
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

“Thou Key of Da­vid” is in Isai­ah 22:22: “The key of the house of Da­vid will I lay up­on his shoul­der."

--All information directly and indirectly from Cyber Hymnal

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Christmas Tour

Welcome to our home! Please wipe your feet and take off your shoes. (You might trample a kitty). Have some milk and cookies. This is our very first Christmas with both of the girls, and as you can see this has made decorating very interesting. We decided to keep the decorations sparse, so the only ones you will currently see at our house is in this corner. Here is our lovely tree, otherwise known as the kitty playhouse. The girls spend much time climbing the boughs in order to get a better view of the outside. The branch sticking out of the side is supposed to be at the bottom, but the kitties find it easier to climb without this branch in its rightful place. Take note that we have an ornamentless tree this year, since the kitties insist on chasing them.

Over here is our beautiful fireplace, which alas, has almost never be used. We hung the stockings with care, and fortunately they have only been attacked once. The one in the middle was made for me by my grandmother, while the ones at the ends were given to me for the kitties by my mom. Notice we are short one stocking.

Feel free to take a gander out on the balcony. This is a Christmas . . . um, tomato. The first of the season! We are hoping that we will have a bumper crop before the heat picks back up. :-) Although, the plant does look somewhat sad.

Well, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget your shoes, and please take some cookies on your way out!

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25 Things about Christmas

I found this little meme on Ashley's blog and thought it would be perfect to help get me more in the Christmas spirit.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I tend to stick to gift bags, especially if I have some on hand or the gift is an odd shape. I do like to wrap, though. If only I were better at it!
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial for now. I think it would be too much for our small apartment to have a real tree.
3. When do you put up the tree? The past few years we have helped my parents in Atlanta put up theirs the day after Thanksgiving, and we'll put up ours sometime when we are back in town.
4. When do you take the tree down? Sometime after Christmas
5. Do you like egg nog? I
absolutely cannot stand the store bought stuff that comes in a paper carton. Bleh. I had real eggnog a few years ago and quite enjoyed it.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I really don't remember much of anything I received as a child. Maybe the child's sewing machine I received one year from my grandparents.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? No, but I would love to get one!
8. Hardest person to buy for? Most everyone. I'm really horrible about thinking of creative gifts.
9. Easiest person to buy for? Probably Stu
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mailing cards. E-cards just aren't the same.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Nothing I can think of!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? "It's a Wonderful Life."
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually right before I need to give the gift. I'm such a procrastinator!
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I can remember.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Nothing I particular. We never really established food traditions at Christmas like we have at Thanksgiving. I guess if I had to say one thing it would be my grandmother's Christmas cookies.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear lights.
17. Favorite Christmas song? It really depends on the year. This year I've really been enjoying "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." I've really fallen in love with older carols and hymns this season. I might spend some time researching their history. Who knows, maybe another blog post?
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel. Growing up we would always visit my grandparents. Now we travel to Stu's parents up in Dallas.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeers? Sure. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen, and of course the most famous reindeer of all--Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer!
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. We have a really beautiful burgundy ribbon.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? One present on Christmas Eve, and the rest on Christmas morning!
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People who spend way too much time obsessing about gifts and getting stuff.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? In the past we have decorated our tree with burgundy and gold, with many of the ornaments being angels I have received over the years from my grandparents. This year we didn't hang up any because the kitties like to climb the tree a little too much!
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? See number 15
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Hmmm. I'm going to have to think about this one.

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Sunday Ponderings: The Genesis of Advent

Our pastor has started a new series for the Advent season on the first few chapters of Genesis. Last week he compared the first chapter in Genesis to the first chapter in John. (Which, alas, I didn't take notes and I don't remember the finer points of his sermon. For those interested, you can listen to it here. Incidently, his sermon last week coincided with the Jesse Tree passage of the day--Creation.)

This Sunday we had a guest speaker who continued the series and expanded from last week. This week's passage was Genesis 2:4-9.

4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The pastor discussed how when God created the heavens and the earth, He created by Himself. Man can only respond to the creation God has made, and was created to be completely dependent on God. He gave Adam the breath of life, a garden to live in, food to eat, and an earth to tend. When God created the tree of knowledge of good and evil he instructed Adam to not eat of it, since man should turn to God alone for his needs. The pastor likened God's instructions to driving eastbound in a westbound lane of Interstate 10--God gave the command for our own safety and protection, since the result of the offense would be death. Adam, of course, utterly rebelled against God's grace and care and now would experience death. God in His continuous grace gave Christ in the Incarnation in order to redeem us, His chosen people.

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