Day 6/12: Heaven Everywhere (Christmas songs Countdown)

Here is a cheery song which reminds us that Christmas brings a sense of hope: we truly can be the selfless people we were designed to be, as we turn our eyes from ourselves and become just a little kinder and more generous towards our fellow humans. There is a little bit of ‘Heaven Everywhere’ at Christmas. The song is from Francesca Batistelli’s 2012 ‘Christmas‘ album.

Heaven Everywhere

I hear the bells, they’re ringing loud and clear
You can’t help but love this time of year
It’s Christmastime, there’s something in the air
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

Somehow there’s a little more of love
And maybe there’s a little less of us
Or maybe we’re just slightly more aware
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

It’s the smile on a man who has finally found hope
It’s the tears of a mother whose child has come home
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

It’s funny how it takes a holiday
To show us how the world could truly change
If we all took the time to really care
There’d be a little more of heaven everywhere

It’s the smile on a man who has finally found hope
It’s the tears of a mother whose child has come home
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
It’s the grace that we show to a world that needs hope
It’s giving our lives knowing they’re not our own
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Hallelujah, halleljuah

It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain

Songwriters: Ben Glover / Francesca Battistelli

Heaven Everywhere lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Capitol Christian Music Group
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Day 5/12 – Salvation is Born (Christmas Songs Countdown)

This has to be one of the most beautiful (and unfortunately less well known) Christmas songs I know, which was published in 2005 by Sovereign Grace Music. I arranged it for a three or four part choir with soloist at some point during the Noughties, and we performed it at our Christmas services. (If you are interested, I could probably find the score.) Enjoy this message!

VERSE 1
Come let us worship, come let us adore
Jesus, Messiah, our Savior is born
Carol His glory and sing His sweet Name
Offer a life of thanksgiving and praise
VERSE 2
Join with the angels proclaiming to earth
Join with the shepherds in awe of His birth
Join all creation rejoicing this morn
The glory of God-become-man has been born

CHORUS
Come, let us adore Him
Jesus, the hope of the world
Come, worship before Him
Christ, the Messiah has come
Salvation is born

VERSE 3
Prophets foretold Him, the Promise of God
The hope of Salvation and light of the world
Born in a stable and born as a man
Born to fulfill God’s redeeming plan

© 2005 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

Salvation is Born by Greg Tulenko, sung by Shannon Harris from the album
“Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man”
© 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

Day 4/12 – Somewhere in Your Silent Night (Christmas Songs countdown)

“Somewhere In Your Silent Night” (by Casting Crowns, 2017)

All is calm and all is bright
Everywhere but in your heart tonight
They’re singing carols of joy and peace
But you feel too far gone and too far out of reach

Somewhere in your silent night
Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried
Hope is here, just lift your head
For love has come to find you
Somewhere in your silent night

From heaven’s height to manger low
There is no distance the Prince of Peace won’t go
From manger low to Calvary’s hill
When your pain runs deep
His love runs deeper still
He has always loved you, child
And He always will

Somewhere in your silent night
Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried
Hope is here, just lift your head
For love has come to find you
Somewhere in your silent night

Lift your head
Lift your heart
Emmanuel will meet you where you are
He knows your hurt
He knows your name
And you’re the very reason that He came

Somewhere in your silent night
Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried
Hope is here, just lift your head
For love has come to find you
Somewhere in your silent night

Love will find you
Love will find you
Love will find you

Writer(s): MATTHEW WEST, JOHN HALL, BERNIE HERMS

Day 3/12 – Noel! (Christmas Songs Countdown)

Continuing the countdown of 12 great songs for the twelve days before Christmas. Here is Chris Tomlin’s ‘Noel‘ sung by Lauren Daigle.

Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel
Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel

Songwriters: Edmond Martin Cash / Matthew James Redman / Chrisopher D Tomlin
Noel lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group, Music Services, Inc

Day 2/12 – Candlelight Carol (Christmas Songs Countdown)

From Australian a cappella vocal group, Idea of North, on the album ‘This Christmas’ from (2012). The song is based on a carol by John Rutter (2001). Listen below or find more info here.

Candlelight Carol

Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep on the hay
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Gloria! Gloria in excelsis deo
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will rock him and sing him to sleep

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Gloria! Gloria in excelsis deo
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Day 1/12 – ‘Help from Heaven’ (Christmas songs countdown)

In the twelve days remaining until Christmas, I thought I’d share some of the best songs I’ve found floating around on the ridges of various compilation CDs. This first one comes from ‘These Christmas Lights’ (2016) by Matt Redman.

There is a moment, every heart needs a rescue
There is a season, every soul needs a break through
Help from heaven, we all need help from heaven

There is a whisper, a voice of hope inside you
There is an answer, a name above to guide you
Help from heaven, we all need help from heaven
Help from heaven, help from heaven

When the world is on our shoulders
And we need a hand to hold us
When no miracle is found, still believe, oh
When the sea of night surrounds us
And all questions try to drown us
Just believe, just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven

There is a reason, those tears will not be wasted
There is a future, for all those broken pieces
Look to heaven, all we need is help from heaven
Help from heaven

When the road ahead is hidden
And we need a new beginning
When the battle’s closing in, still believe, oh
When we step in to the promise
And the hands of grace that hold us
Just believe, just believe in help from heaven
Help from heaven, help from heaven

Taking heart and holding on, hope is closer than we know
Hand that will not let us go, help from heaven
Taking heart and holding on, hope is closer than we know
Hand that will not let us go, we all need help from heaven

The Bridge – Casting Crowns

Lyrics:

Oh, you lead us home

Oh oh

 

The world’s getting darker by the day

I’m on my knees but don’t know what to pray

The broken things that broken people do

But knowing just how far You came for me

Gives me hope for every soul I meet

There’s no one so far gone that You can’t reach

So reach through me

Let them see, Lord, let them see

 

Your love is the bridge

You built with a cross

And Your truth is the light

That searches for the lost

Your grace won’t stop reaching

Your mercy won’t let go

‘Cause Your love is the bridge

And Your truth leads us home

Oh, You lead us home, Oh

 

You never told the broken they were whole

You spoke the truth that healed their broken souls

You’d never leave us here to fight alone

With love we earn the right to speak Your truth

It’s not just what we say, it’s what we do

I want to be a bridge that leads to You

So reach through me

Let them see, Lord, let them see

 

No rescue so relentless

No greater love than this

Where sin leaves a canyon

Your love builds a bridge

 

Writers:

Mark Hall, Matthew West, Bernie Herms and Seth Mosley

Be Essential Songs (BMI) (admin at EssentialMusicPublishing.com). My Refuge Music (BMI) (adming at CapitolCMGPublishing.com). Hickory Bill Doc / So Essential Tunes (SESAC) (admin at EssentialMusicPublishing.com) (C) 2018 Provident

The glory of Christmas is Christ!

I just commissioned this Christmas card design, featuring a line from Matt Redman’s ‘O Little Town/Glory of Christmas’. Thanks to my daughter Emily, you can buy yours here:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/emilyrdesign/works/29091114-glory-of-christmas-card?p=greeting-card

Gracefully Broken

Enjoying this new Matt Redman song, from his latest album “Glory Song”

From Mere Inkling – Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and music


Today’s post comes from one of my favourite sites: Mere Inkling – a writer who always has much biblical wisdom to share, and many insights into the writings of Lewis and Tolkien. Enjoy!

Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Music

“Have you ever written something that inspired a musician talbumo compose new music? J.R.R. Tolkien hoped to do so one day, and had he lived to hear the scores of the Lord of the Rings trilogy created by Howard Shore, he would have been in awe.

I was reading Tolkien’s correspondence last week and came across a fascinating letter he wrote to a musician who was requesting permission to write a serious composition based on The Hobbit.

This would have been quite different than the quaint “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” made famous by Leonard Nimoy. (I wish their choreographer had read the book, so we could have been spared the tiny T-Rex arms sported during the chorus by the dancers.)

Anyway, returning to more serious musical ventures, in 1964 Tolkien received a request for permission to write a “Hobbit Overture.” It came from British composer Carey Blyton (1932-2002) who would become best known for his song “Bananas in Pyjamas.”

Tolkien’s response to the composer’s query is fascinating, on several levels. First, he is gracious in extending his permission, without any restrictions. And, in 1967 Blyton did compose “The Hobbit” Overture, opus 52a. It appears on the CD, British Light Overtures 3.

Secondly, he shares his unspoken desire that his work might someday inspire music. Then he makes a curious comment about the illustrations of Pauline Baynes, which would similarly grace the work of C.S. Lewis.

After that, Tolkien describes his own, musically impoverished, upbringing. Finally he expresses his deep appreciation for good music, despite his lack of knowledge on the subject.

And Tolkien accomplishes all of this in just a handful of sentences!

You certainly have my permission to compose any work that you wished based on The Hobbit. . . . . As an author I am honoured to hear that I have inspired a composer. I have long hoped to do so, and hoped also that I might perhaps find the result intelligible to me, or feel that it was akin to my own inspiration—as much as are, say, some (but not all) of Pauline Baynes’ illustrations. . . . .

I have little musical knowledge. Though I come of a musical family, owing to defects of education and opportunity as an orphan, such music as was in me was submerged (until I married a musician), or transformed into linguistic terms. Music gives me great pleasure and sometimes inspiration, but I remain in the position in reverse of one who likes to read or hear poetry but knows little of its technique or tradition, or of linguistic structure.

It is common for people of sincere Christian devotion, such as Tolkien and Lewis, to express an appreciation for the divine capacity of music to touch the human spirit.

luteMartin Luther, for example, wrote much about music. “Music is God’s greatest gift,” he proclaimed. He was not only a composer of hymns, but also an acceptable player of the lute, which he used to accompany his children during their family devotions.

Music is deeply intertwined with the heart of Christian worship.

C.S. Lewis on the Subject of Music

One of the modest challenges in contrasting fellow Inklings J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis results from the significantly different natures of their literary corpora. While they both wrote fantasy, though of a vastly different magnitude, Lewis’ vocation as one of Christianity’s chief modern apologists necessitated that he defend the faith in diverse contexts. Thus, he wrote numerous essays and a number of texts addressing a wide range of considerations that his friend Tolkien never discussed in print.

Because of this distinction, it is relatively simple to discover what Lewis thought about the nature and powers of music. Typical of the man’s practical orientation, Lewis appears little interested in the abstract attributes of music. What interests him is its confluence with human existence. The following profound insight comes from his essay “On Church Music.”

There are two musical situations on which I think we can be confident that a blessing rests. One is where a priest or an organist, himself a man of trained and delicate taste, humbly and charitably sacrifices his own (aesthetically right) desires and gives the people humbler and coarser fare than he would wish, in a belief (even, as it may be, the erroneous belief) that he can thus bring them to God. The other is where the stupid and unmusical layman humbly and patiently, and above all silently, listens to music which he cannot, or cannot fully, appreciate, in the belief that it somehow glorifies God, and that if it does not edify him this must be his own defect.

Neither such a High Brow nor such a Low Brow can be far out of the way. To both, Church Music will have been a means of grace; not the music they have liked, but the music they have disliked. They have both offered, sacrificed, their taste in the fullest sense.

But where the opposite situation arises, where the musician is filled with the pride of skill or the virus of emulation and looks with contempt on the unappreciative congregation, or where the unmusical, complacently entrenched in their own ignorance and conservatism, look with the restless and resentful hostility of an inferiority complex on all who would try to improve their taste—there, we may be sure, all that both offer is unblessed and the spirit that moves them is not the Holy Ghost.

This discussion about church music is particularly interesting due to Lewis’ personal dislike for much of the music used in worship, which I’ve written about before.

Lewis described his own church music pilgrimage in “Answers to Questions on Christianity.”

My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches . . .

If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament [holy communion], and you can’t do it without going to Church. I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it.

I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

In “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis addresses this notion that we must look beyond the music itself, to assess its influence on our humanity.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.

For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

Lewis recognized the deep influence and mystery with which music communicates and inspires. It is no accident that Narnia’s creation itself comes through Aslan’s song.

The Lion was pacing to and fro about that empty land and singing his new song. It was softer and more lilting than the song by which he had called up the stars and the sun; a gentle, rippling music. And as he walked and sang the valley grew green with grass. It spread out from the Lion like a pool.

It ran up the sides of the little hills like a wave. In a few minutes it was creeping up the lower slopes of the distant mountains, making that young world every moment softer.

Returning to “On Church Music,” Lewis expands on the importance of our intentions as we approach music.

It seems to me that we must define rather carefully the way, or ways, in which music can glorify God. There is . . . a sense in which all natural agents, even inanimate ones, glorify God continually by revealing the powers He has given them. . . . An excellently performed piece of music, as natural operation which reveals in a very high degree the peculiar powers given to man, will thus always glorify God whatever the intention of the performers may be. But that is a kind of glorifying which we share with the ‘dragons and great deeps,’ with the ‘frost and snows.’

What is looked for in us, as men, is another kind of glorifying, which depends on intention. How easy or how hard it may be for a whole choir to preserve that intention through all the discussions and decisions, all the corrections and the disappointments, all the temptations to pride, rivalry and ambition, which precede the performance of a great work, I (naturally) do not know. But it is on the intention that all depends.

When it succeeds, I think the performers are the most enviable of men; privileged while mortals to honor God like angels and, for a few golden moments, to see spirit and flesh, delight and labour, skill and worship, the natural and the supernatural, all fused into that unity they would have had before the Fall. . . .

We must beware of the naïve idea that our music can ‘please’ God as it would please a cultivated human hearer. That is like thinking, under the old Law, that He really needed the blood of bulls and goats. To which an answer came, ‘mine are the cattle upon a thousand hills,’ and ‘if I am hungry, I will not tell thee.’ If God (in that sense) wanted music, He would not tell us. For all our offerings, whether of music or martyrdom, are like the intrinsically worthless present of a child, which a father values indeed, but values only for the intention.

At the outset of this column I declared Tolkien would have been “in awe” of the musical score written to accompany the Lord of the Rings movies. Lewis too, I believe, would have been impressed by the scores composed for the three Chronicles of Narnia films made thus far. We owe a debt of gratitude to three composers: Howard Shore,* Harry Gregson-Williams,** and David Arnold***.

An Historical Postscript

In the spirit of Lewis and Tolkien, who appreciated the importance of music, we’ll close now with another engaging quotation from the wry pen of Doctor Martin Luther.

I wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God.

The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them…. In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.

A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”

_____

* Howard Shore has nearly a hundred credits as a composer, conductor and orchestrator on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). In addition to the Tolkien cinema projects, he has also worked on a number of other very successful films and ninety-six episodes of Saturday Night Live. Shore won three Oscars for his work on Lord of the Rings.

** Harry Gregson-Williams has nearly a hundred credits on the IMDb, including a number of box office successes, a variety of popular video games, and several productions in the Shrek series. He won awards for his work on the Chronicles of Narnia series and another of my favorite films, Kingdom of Heaven.

*** David Arnold, wrote the score for the third Narnia film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He has seventy-three credits listed on IMDb, ranging from this year’s Independence Day: Resurgence, all the way back to a BBC made for tv picture entitled Mr. Stink.

https://mereinkling.net/2016/08/02/tolkien-c-s-lewis-and-music/