Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Please read "God's Christmas Present." Once you start the scrolling, this site will scroll by itself. If you have speakers, turn them on to hear a piano rendition of "O Holy Night" as you read the poem and view the art work.
(Hat tip: Skylark)

Not long ago, one of my students asked me, "What is your favorite Christmas carol?"

Without hesitation, I responded, "Of the Father's Love Begotten."

I discovered this beautiful, lesser-known hymn some thirty years ago when I was a church organist. "Of the Father's Love Begotten" is often used as an a capella processional or as a processional with handbells during Advent season, both at services and at Christmas concerts. The words speak to the divinity. sovereignty, and immortality of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Note the refrain: "Evermore and evermore."

Of the Father's Love Begotten

Of the Father's love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He;
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
And extol our God and King;
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring,
Evermore and evermore.

Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be;
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore.

--Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348-c. 413
Translated by John M. Neale, 1818-1866 and Henry W. Baker, 1821-1877
To be sung to Divinum Mysterium, 13th Century Plainsong, Mode V
[Click here to read all the verses and to hear the music]
Visit CatHouse Chat for further articles and meditations.

May the Lord grant you the peace and blessings of this Holy Season.
--Always On Watch

40 Comments:

At 12/23/2005 3:18 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Thank you AOW.
And all of us from the Democracy Frontline team send you our warmest and sincere:
Merry Christmas.

 
At 12/23/2005 3:51 PM, Blogger Romeocat said...

AOW - just beautiful! Thanks for pointing me to Skylark's link, and I added a hyperlink to your post in the comment you left on my blog so people will link on over here.

I cannot say how much I appreciate your support and kind words the past three weeks - you have truly been a blessing and an encouragement to me!

May you and yours have a wonderful, blessed, and joyous Christmas, filled with the Love of Christ!

-- R'cat
CatHouse Chat

 
At 12/23/2005 6:09 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

I know this isn't a Christmas Carol but I'll always remember my mom reading to me "The Night before Christmas". I still try reading it to my daughter but at age 10, she's "all grown up" now. Hopefully when she is my age she'll understand how little things define who we are and stay with us forever. I wish everybody who comes here a Merry Christmas.

 
At 12/23/2005 6:26 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Crusader,
I love the poem "The Night Before Christmas"! Thanks for the reminder. That poem is a wonderful Christmas tradtion:

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


Here's some background information on the poem, from
http://www.nightbeforechristmas.biz/
poem.htm [a beautiful site] :

According to legend, Clement Clarke Moore wrote his immortal poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, for his family on Christmas Eve 1822. He never intended that it be published, but a family friend, Miss Harriet Butler, learned of the poem sometime later from Moore's children. She copied it into her album, and submitted it to the editor of the Troy (New York) Sentinel where it made its first appearance in print on December 23, 1823. Soon, the poem began to be reprinted in other newspapers, almanacs and magazines, with the first appearance in a book in The New York Book of Poetry, edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman, in 1837.

It was not until 1844, however, that Moore himself acknowledged authorship in a volume of his poetry entitled Poems, published at the request of his children. One hundred and eighty years later it is the most-published, most-read, most-memorized and most-collected book in all of Christmas literature.

 
At 12/23/2005 7:42 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

Merry Christmas .

How come these leftist think that I have a problem with Christmas as a non Christian ? I never heard a bigoted word from a Christian in my life and I have been welcomed into churches as a Jew. Everytime I see a bigot they are always far left types seriously.

 
At 12/23/2005 10:57 PM, Blogger Regular Ron said...

AOW...I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year my dear.

RR :)

 
At 12/24/2005 12:20 AM, Blogger Esther said...

This was beautiful, AOW. I hope you and the family have a beautiful Christmas and a fantastic New Year.

 
At 12/24/2005 3:36 AM, Blogger samwich said...

Now when Jesus was born in Bethelehem in Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east, to Jerusalem. Saying, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews"? "For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship Him".
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, "In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet".
"And thou Bethlehem in the land of Judea, art not the least among the princes of Judea: for out of thee shall come a Governor, That shall rule my people Israel".
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star had appeared.

(Herod nor his advisers had a clue that Christ would be born or had seen the "STAR", The court advisors did not know what to look for in the night skies. Obvious that it was not a grand celestial manifestation, but rather a sign in the heavens that God had commanded man to watch for. Men from the east of Jerusalem. Men of learning and wealth. Knowledgeable about astronomy. Astronomers traveled to map the heavens. They carried news. They investigated traditions. They were not itenerant wanders, they were officers of a royal court on a specific mission or Herod's ministers would have refused to admit them to the palace. They journeyed in obedience to a commandment from God to seek and worship the Beloved and Only Begotten Son of God, come to earth to be The Sacrified for the Atonement and Redmeption of man. These were officers of a Righteous King who knew God and enjoyed the benefit [blessing] of receiving communication [revelation] from God).

Back to the story:

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also".
When they heard the king they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

(The conjunction of Jupiter, the Planet of Kings and Regulus, the Star of Kings, visible for about 9 months, in retrograde for about 9 months and visible again for another nine months. Visible as hovering over the rooftops of Bethlehem when looking west from Jerusalem).

(The "star" had a forerunner in Jewish tradition, the conjunction of Jupiter, Planet of Kings and Venus, The Virgin, of June 2 BC.
Symbolic of the conception).

(The Wise Men were in the loop! They knew exactly what they were looking for).

And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

(How much would you rejoice if you knew you were about to behold Christ's face? Give it a minute).

And when they were come in to the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worhipped him:

(These were men of God, Priests in exceeding great favor of the most High or this wonderful privelidge and Honor would not have been conferred upon them).

and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. (Tithes and Offerings)
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod [men worthy of receiving direct revelation from God], they departed onto their own country another way.

Men whose hearts and minds were given to know Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior and Redeemer of all who come and live on earth.

God loves all equally.
Christ invites, He never compells.
The greatest of all self inflicted punishments is to decline to partake of the Love of God.

He Lives.

S....................hutupnow

 
At 12/24/2005 8:36 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Samwich,
Never, ever shut up about the Meaning of Christmas.

Thank you for posting that comment, both the Story Which Never Grows Old and your commentary.

 
At 12/24/2005 8:38 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you, everyone, for stopping by. I'll be rather busy the next few days as my husband and I celebrate Christmas with the family.

 
At 12/24/2005 10:02 AM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Thanks for posting that; it was wonderful!

A point to ponder; about half of the people I work with are Moslems, and they heartily wished me a Merry Christmas. If Moslems have no problem expressing such sentiments (in time of war with fellow Moslems, I might add), why should it bother atheists so much?

A blessed and merry Christmas to you, AOW!

 
At 12/24/2005 10:44 AM, Anonymous skylark said...

The words of 'Of the Father's Love Begotten' are very moving, awesome and in keeping with the quiet grandeur of this season. I'll be printing them out and putting them somewhere I can see them often. Thanks AOW! Have a great time !

 
At 12/24/2005 12:18 PM, Blogger Mustang said...

I know that you are already aware of the fact that I think you are doing good work at Always on Watch. I respect what you have to say, and I admire the way you say it. You are making an important contribution to our country, and in my view, that makes you a patriot. I would also like to acknowledge that you have become a good friend – and for that, I am grateful beyond words. May God bless you and keep you within His care, AOW. Merry Christmas, and please have a very Happy and safe New Year.

Semper Fidelis,

 
At 12/24/2005 1:19 PM, Blogger The Exile said...

Merry Christmas, AOW!

 
At 12/24/2005 6:36 PM, Anonymous Patrick said...

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

 
At 12/24/2005 9:53 PM, Blogger eyesallaround said...

Thanks for a great post AOW. It's Christmas eve, and we're watching the "History Channel's" abortion version of "The History of Jesus".... He was a Palestinian... blah, blah, blah.,,,,, vomit, gag, YUK!!! Now they're talking about "The Gospel of Thomas"!!!! HELP!!!!

 
At 12/24/2005 9:57 PM, Blogger samwich said...

The Palestinains:

Palestine means Land of the Phillistines. The Phillistnes lived along the south east crescent of the Mediterean sea. and were at war with Israel for many centuries. The Phillistine people as a nation were conquered in 734 BC. I'll need to dig out the references.

When Rome conquered, the Romans named the area Palestine as an insult to the Jews.

S

 
At 12/25/2005 1:24 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Merry Christmas, AOW!

 
At 12/25/2005 1:37 AM, Blogger Shah Alexander said...

Many comments have disappeared? I found nearly 50 comments when I stopped by this post.

Merry Christmas. I wear a red sweater and shirt---like a Santa?

 
At 12/25/2005 5:17 AM, Blogger LASunsett said...

AOW,

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. I have enjoyed your site since I found it and look forward to more in the coming new year,

 
At 12/25/2005 8:17 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Shah,
I didn't remove any comments, but somehow one of the earlier articles about Christmas ("Celebrate Christmas") went into draft mode. No doubt I clicked the wrong button--another manifestation of my Christmas rush. I'll repost it now beneath this "Merry Christmas" article.

You're a Santa, huh? My husband wears an outfit similar to yours and has a Santa hat to go with it. Also, my husband grew out his winter beard, which is white. Small children believe that he IS Santa. Funny!

 
At 12/25/2005 9:44 AM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

Thanks AOW.."Watching Iran" just didn't sound right.

 
At 12/25/2005 1:53 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mustang,
Thank you for your wonderful compliment, my good friend.

Thanks to that car accident I had on May 17 and getting laid up for the whole summer, I sort of stumbled into blogging, clicked on "Mustang," and found someone a kindred spirit to teach me the finer points of blogging and of Blogger. More importantly, I now have a dear friend I didn't have a year ago. Thank God for you!

Romans 8:28 states All things work together for good, for those who love the Lord. I believe those words, even though sometimes I don't immediately see the blessing. 2005 has been, in many ways, a wretched year for me. You have been one of the few bright spots--certainly one the the blessings in my 2005.

 
At 12/25/2005 2:20 PM, Blogger David Schantz said...

Merry Christmas To All!!

 
At 12/26/2005 1:03 AM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Not being the best nor best bred of all the Christians, I can say this: I had a funny dream last night. Blame it on the enteric garlic capsules I take before going to bed.

I had a dream that omega is coming soon. The end. Albeit I am no born again Christian, this rapture thing is coming soon and it will happen within our lifetime.

This isn't some wierd prediction nor am I wearing a placard naked. It's just a very bizarre feeling.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

 
At 12/26/2005 5:28 AM, Blogger samwich said...

bassizzzt: Rapture, If you only knew.

S

 
At 12/26/2005 5:48 AM, Blogger samwich said...

A trip to paradise today.

The snow in sourthern Idaho should have been 3 feet deep at Sweetzer Summit, 5530 ft elev. About half the ground was bare of snow and the existing patches of snow were only a few inches deep.

Daniel's Summit, Utah, about an hour east of Salt Lake City, on US 40. 8000 feet elev. There should be about 6 feet of snow, I'm told there are two feet. I drop down to 6000 feet to get to my property. I'll see today how the snow is. Normally winter access is snowmobile only. The building code requires your roof to support 9 feet of snow.

This bodes ill for the continueing drought. The insects will be horrendous this coming summer and the winter kill of the weaker animals will be much less severe.
Over grazing from over population will lead to a culling and thinning of the herds by the state.

Ice fishing at Strawberry Reservior, 7300 ft, east of Daniel's Summit and a premier western Rainbow and Cutthroat trout fishery is closed, poor ice quailty.

2006 is a high population cycle year for jackrabbits. They love dandelions.

We will head back to Seattle Wdnesday Morning, a 13&1/2 hour drive from SLC. My Mountain property is three hours east of SLC.

I hope all of your holidays and family gatherings have been as pleasant and filled with love and good will as mine.

I wish everybody had it as good as this.

S

 
At 12/26/2005 6:51 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Samwich,
Off topic here...My husband gave me a beautiful dinner ring for Christmas. No wonder he was smirking when I told him of your purchase. My husband had a little surprise in store for me, and despite our being married for over 33 years, I didn't pick up on the surprise my husband had in store.

The ring, with 18k white-gold setting, has a square-cut emerald in the center and lots of small diamonds all around; the diamonds fan out to form a vertical bow. We've been to two parties so far, and I'm getting lots of ooh's and aah's. Of course, my husband bought this piece from a contact in the coin business--not from a retail jeweler.

This ring is from and estate sale. I'm not one of those women who cares about new; I care about quality--and a good deal (as opposed to a rip-off). As it's Christmas, it's not polite for me to ask the price.

What is it about women and diamonds? I've never known any woman who didn't want diamonds, even if she rarely wears them.

My husband also bought his mother a nice necklace--Statue of Liberty on black onyx. Because she has mid-stage Alheimer's, she won't remember who gave the necklace to her. But last night, after being here since Friday evening, it suddenly dawned on her that she is indeed visiting her oldest son for Christmas. The recognition pleased my husband, even if the recognition turns out to be fleeting. I'm not sure she realizes that she flew all the way across the country to visit us for Christmas--for the first time ever. But the recognition on Christmas evening is a sort of Christmas miracle. God is good!

 
At 12/26/2005 7:46 AM, Blogger samwich said...

Hi AOW, gemstones are concentrated wealth. Gold and Silver are money. Ancient traditions live on in modern society. Ornamental wealth is visibly stating one's status in society.
Mrs S has designated her jewelery heir and carved it in stone!!

A final bit about the Wise Men from the east who sought the Babe.

Israel was divided by civil war around 900 BC. The tribes represented at Jerusalem and the surrounding country there after were Judah, Dan and Benjamin. The other tribes moved north and east out into the world.

Christ proclaimed himself as "come only to Israel" during His Mortal Ministry. He also told his disciples he had sheep of another fold.

Israel is all 13 tribes, Joseph being divided by Jacob's blessing Ephraim and Mannasah, Joseph's sons, as sons of Jacob.

Joseph was given a special blessing by Jacob.

The Coronation Stone in the Throne of England is reputed to be the "Stone" Jacob laid his head on the night he wrestled with the Angel and was named "Israel". The Crown of England traces it's authority to the "House of
David". The stone does look like stone from that area and it is definietely not of British Isles origin.

The wise men, in my opinion, were High Priests from the tribe of Ephraim.

Judah was blessed to be the father of Kings and was indeed the father of Jesus by lineage.

Ephraim was blessed to lead the gathering of Israel in the last days.

The Wise men may not have been Ephraim either but based on the role of each tribe as I understand history, Ephraim fits.

The Roman tax of 8 BC did not apply to Jews as Rome had not declared Jews as roman citizens.

The Roman Tax Declaration of 2 BC made Jews Roman citizens subject to Roman tax and census law. The census was conducted and tax collected at Passover, the customary gathering of families. A different "Tax Interuption" schedule would disrupt crop production and harvest, economic disaster in a labor intensive society.

S

 
At 12/26/2005 8:44 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Samwich,
You know a lot about the lineage. Is understanding that lineage a part of LDS?

 
At 12/26/2005 8:48 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Bassizzzt,
Isn't it amazing that you had such a dream? The garlic capsules? Maybe so, but I have my doubts.

 
At 12/26/2005 8:52 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

To all who wished me a Merry Christmas:
A year ago, I didn't even know that blogs existed. Today, look at the comments of all who stopped by here. Each and every one of wishes here have brightened this Season for me.

For those commenters who have their own blogs, I hope that I've stopped by your sites to wish you a Merry Christmas too. And for those commenters who are independents without blogs, I have wished you the same greeting.

 
At 12/26/2005 7:03 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

Mery Christmas! sorry I am late. AOW I appreciateou.

 
At 12/26/2005 10:14 PM, Blogger samwich said...

Hi AOW, We are required to know the Old Testament, The New Testament and our own stuff.

Challoner's Authorized Catholic Bible is generally credited as the most accurate translation of the various Bibles.

We teach do not teach anything that is not taught in the Bible.

I am a former military combat trained Field Engineer focused now on wind, solar and bio fuels, I can do a great batch of rocket fuel!!! I say as a country America can meet all it's electricity needs with wind power.
I am a student of History, Astronomy, Biology, Poetry, Mass Psychology and my specific markets. The 11 years I was in the Army I educated myself in the fields I was interested in. I got about 6 years of college credits.

My first career attempt was milking three cows every afternoon my 7th and 8th summers and weeding and hoeing the garden, 20 ft x 50 ft. It sucked!

S

 
At 12/27/2005 1:32 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

We teach do not teach anything that is not taught in the Bible.

Why does Joseph Smith's first novel say Jesus was born in Jerusalem?

 
At 12/27/2005 10:46 AM, Blogger samwich said...

Beamish, you are a trouble maker, and not a very well financed one for that matter, save it for your own blog.

Be very careful little anti mormon bigot, my lawyers have beaten more formidable adversaries than you.

Everthing about your blog and posts braodcasts:

INFANTILE MORON LOOKING FOR TROUBLE

 
At 12/27/2005 12:36 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Samwich,
Beamish is a satirist and can be a bit of a trouble maker. I'll leave it to Beamish to defend himself of the other "charges."

Many of my Christian friends criticize Mormonism. While I do not subscribe to Mormonism, I guess that I don't get as heated about it. One reason for my mellowness is that my husband's aunt is a convert to LDS, and she and I have a good relationship. Also, a distant ancestor of mine went west with Brigham Young. The rest of my family never understood my ancestor's commitment, but as there were many other worse "scandals" in the family, we didn't fret about it.

To each his own, I guess. Besides, each needs to tend to one's own soul.

 
At 12/27/2005 6:37 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Samwich,

You belong to a cult that was run out of Ohio for counterfeiting currency, and ran out of Missouri for terrorism and insurrection, not long after being proven a fraud in Illinois.

You've no right to call me a moron. You're the one falling for Joseph Smith's racket, not me.

 
At 12/29/2005 2:12 PM, Blogger mrblemishinfantilepundit said...

has spoken.

 
At 12/30/2005 2:16 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

9 out of 10 people you meet on the internet were snipers in Vietnam.

 

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