Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Meanind behind the carols #3

The First Noel (Nowell)
This French (or English) Carol is one of the oldest that we still sing, dating back to the 13th or 14th century when 'miracle plays' were a popular way to spread the gospel. The carol no doubt changed quite a bit as the years went by since it was not published until 1833 in a collection by William Sandys. "Noel" is the French word for Christmas, derived from the Latin word for birthday so it reminds us that Christmas is the first birthday of Jesus. With the 6 verses telling as much of the story as is possible to fit into one carol it's a classic for Christmas day.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Meaning behind the carols #2

O little town of Bethlehem
Philip Brooks was the writter and creater of this song. He was an Episcopal Priest, and he made this song while he was on a journey to the Holy Land in 1865. On Christmas Eve, while he was heading to Jerusalemfrom Bethleham, he stopped at an open field, to watch the dusk envelop the town. After that, he attended a 5 hour church service at the Church of Nativity. For 3 long years, he kept his memories to himself, and then he was motivated to share his memories with a Church gathering. And what he did, was write a 5 stanza poem, and he gave it to the Church organist, Lewis Redner, who gave the poem its musical background. And this song was first heard on December 27th, 1868; then later appeared in the Episcopal Hymnals, and soon enough becoming one the favorite Christmas Carols.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Meaning behind the carols #1

12 Days of Christmas
If like me you thought this wasn't really about anything other than presents, you'd be wrong. This song was orginally written for young people to learn and sing about their faith in code in order to be safe from persecution. Here is the true meaning:

Each of the items in the song represents something of religious significance. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help young Christians learn their faith. The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."
The "true love" represents God and the "me" who receives these presents is the Christian. Here you go:

The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God.
The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God.
The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Corinthians 13).
The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses".

The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.
The "seven swans a swimming" were the "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit". (I Corinthians 12:8-11; Romans 12, Ephesians 4; I Peter 4:10-11).
The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.
The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 & 23)
The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.
The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.
The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.

So, the next time you hear "The 12 Days of Christmas", consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in the Christian faith.