Keeping Spirits Bright

December 18, 1896
Charles Birchwood

Dickens may have had it right about Christmas. BAH HUMBUG! I for one think differently, nothing is more perfect than a cold winter morning, with snow fluffy and light on the ground. My children’s hands tucked warmly in my own and my loving wife snuggled against my chest as we walk through aisles of evergreen with the fresh scent of pine in the air. We take each step in time with the rhythm of Christmas carols sung bright and cheerily from voices young and old.

Our search might last for hours, but the selection of the family Christmas tree is an all important event. Choose a tree too small or too full or not full enough and the season might be ruined by the ill looking object in our living room. Chosen wisely, it will glitter from the corner of the room with neatly wrapped packages concealed below. It graces the room with beauty and joy and peace in my marriage.

The First Noel, circa 1833 in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern by William B. Sandys

The first 'Noel the angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

This star drew nigh to the northwest:
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest;
And there it did both stop and stay,
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

Then did they know assuredly
Within that house the King did lie;
One entered in then for to see,
And found the Babe in poverty.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

Then entered in those wise men three,
Full rev'rently upon their knee,
And offered there, in his presence,
Both gold and myrrh, and frankincense.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

Between an ox-stall and an ass
This Child there truly borned was;
For want of clothing they did him lay
All in the manger, among the hay.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

If we in our time shall do well
We shall be free from death and hell,
For God hath prepared for us all
A resting-place in general.

Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!Born is the King of Israel!

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, written by Edmund Sears, published on December 29, 1849 in the Christian Register of Boston.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The bless├Ęd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet seen of old,
When with the ever-encircling years
Shall come the time foretold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

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