I am going to present something different this time; I wanted to put up one more this year, , but the “topics” in mind need more prayer and patience than the remaining hours provide, so:
I am sharing some Christmas poems, which are rough drafts of some of the songs and poems which, reworked, revised, rewritten, added to and worked again, became the text of an Advent Cantata, instigated and composed, arranged, and conducted by my dear, beloved and late friend Tom Shellenberger.
Who am I, a poor sinner, to speak of our Lord
Who created the heavens and earth with a word,
Who has ordered the seasons and bright stars above,
Made the angels and oceans, the lion, the dove,
Who is Master of lightning and winds and of rains
Of trees at the rivers, of mountains and plains,
Of cattle and oxen, and sheep in the fold,
Of midsummer heat and the deep winter cold;
He sent forth His angels years ago to the mild
To tell of the birth of the Savior, the Child.
Now He’s told us to go, to tell the world of
These things He has done for us in His love.
We had turned from God.
We loved the works of our own hands.
We desired crowns of gold
At the cost of our fellow man.
Summers earth was hard as iron,
Winters water was like stone;
We feared that God had turned away;
Our sin was all our own.
As He promised long ago
God our Father made it so,
Sent His perfect Son to win
Souls of men out from their sin
Who released the prisoners chained
And washed clean the sick and stained.
As He promised in the past
In darkness and ‘mid icy blast
This the new thing He has done
New covenant made, new life begun;
His word His children doth sustain
Makes deserts flower as with rain.
As He promised, He has done
His Son, His love, our soul has won
From that fiend who held us bound
In sin and darkness all around;
Born as man in a stable plain,
Who died yet lives: Salvation reign.
The days are short and the colder winds blow;
The harvest was brought in weeks ago.
The wood has been stacked by the kitchen door,
The straw laid thick on the cowshed floor.
The ox turned the ground for the last time this year;
And it’s up to God to feed the deer.
Now, hardy shepherds, wrap up and go
Fetch the flocks from the mountain before the deep snow.
The path was long and the way was slow
But lit by a star that seemed hung low,
Seemed more bright than the moon, and maybe more near,
At least it gave them some warming cheer;
The men and the dogs had no thought for sleep
With the dozens of woolly beasts to keep;
They guarded their flock by the star’s golden glow
Never expecting what else it would show.
Down at the barn, hear the gentle ox low
To the in-coming donkey half covered with snow
And the man and the woman she’d carried all day
Who settled to rest in the sweet dusty hay;
The animals welcomed them into the fold
And knelt near enough to help block out the cold;
What was coming– did the quiet beasts know
On that blessed night many winters ago?
Hush and hear the heavens pray,
Shepherds, hear the Angels say,
There now in that plain cow stall,
That tiny thing is Lord of all.
Come and hear the heavens rejoicing,
Come and hear the Angels voicing
Glorias to the newborn King;
Let the happy chorus ring!
Come and sing, rejoice and praise,
Come and bring a voice to raise:
Ordained by God with men to dwell,
He is born, Emmanuel!
If you meet a poor sinner who has any need
Give him water or wine. serve him food with all speed,
Play music, invite him to fireside cheer
And be blessed for your kindness with all you have here;
For remember that Jesus made foolish the wise
And often does come in poor ragged disguise.
And now let our Alleluias rise!