Tuesday 29 December 2020

Letting go

For me, New Year is always a moment to reset my spiritual attitude and heart. I don't believe that the world around me is going to change in anyway (sadly), but there is something in the changing year that brings a degree of optimism and hope. I am not sure how it is for you?

On some level there is the hope that all the negative events, sad moments and tough times will be shelved into the archives, or at least pushed further back into our memories. There is also the longing for something new, fresh and dynamic, that will launch us into the possibilities of the next 365 days.

On a spiritual level, it also reminds me of my own journey with Christ. That there was a moment, when I chose to let go of my past and embrace the future with Jesus. The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17) Of course this doesn't happen over-night, but it does bring me joy to remember that I am no longer my own, but am 'in Christ.'

I pray that you will have a blessed 2021 and that whatever happens we would keep our eyes on Jesus.

Living in Grace


Thomas Becket

It was on this day (29th December 1170) that Thomas Becket was assassinated by 4 knights serving King Henry II. His gruesome death was not the end of his legacy though, and Thomas ended up being canonised as a saint, and the King had to make public penance in the same Cathedral. 

History is fascinating as it always reminds us of the mistakes made in the past and how we can hopefully resolve to make better decisions in the future. It seems as if Thomas Becket was always willing to serve his Lord, even if it meant death. His unwavering commitment is admirable and challenging for all of us.

Here are some of his words of wisdom:

Remember the sufferings of Christ, the storms that were weathered... the crown that came from those sufferings which gave new radiance to the faith... All saints give testimony to the truth that without real effort, no one ever wins the crown.

I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.

May God bless you at this strange time in the history of the world.

2 Corinthians 5:19 - "that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

Living in Grace


Saturday 26 December 2020

Let earth and heaven combine

I know we are not supposed to be jealous, especially in this season of giving and love. However, when I read the brilliant words of Charles Wesley, as he sums up the complex theology of the Incarnation with an economy of words, I am a little envious.

Just read this first verse again and note how he manages to explain how we all should worship our Immense God, who managed to surrender himself into the form of the Christ-child. It is incomprehensible. It is truly miraculous.

1. Let earth and heaven combine,
      Angels and men agree,
   To praise in songs Divine
      The' incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.

2. He laid His glory by,
      He wrapp'd Him in our clay,
   Unmark'd by human eye
      The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel's name.

Charles Wesley wrote this hymn around 1745 and it is another ‘hit’ alongside his thousands (over 6000) of songs and hymns. Not bad for a guy who was born the 18th child of Susanna and Samuel Wesley on the 18th December 1707. He certainly didn’t let his family status prevent him from glorifying his Saviour. Charles was 80 years old when he died in 1788.

Let us not make excuses this year, as to why we can’t worship Jesus. May our voices join with those in heaven, and on earth, as we proclaim Jesus as our Immanuel.

Living in Grace


Friday 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas (Feliz Navidad)


The ever popular Christmas song, Feliz Navidad is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, having been written in 1970 by Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano. The words to the song are simple, but with the extremely catchy tune, it has gone on to become one of the most played carols of all time.

When asked about its success Jose Feliciano said that he wrote it to bring people together – different people, ethnic groups, languages and cultures – especially in the season of peace. He was feeling very lonely in the months leading up to the Christmas of 1970 and was asked to write a song for a new Christmas album. He says, “It was expressing the joy that I felt on Christmas and the fact that I felt very lonely. I missed my family, I missed Christmas carols with them. I missed the whole Christmas scene."

His friend, Rick Jarrard says that no one else was recording in Spanish and English at the time and that the phrase Feliz Navidad was not known in the English world until José did that song. Now, everyone seems to know the phrase and of course the song has been covered by all sorts of famous musicians, including Boney-M, Celine Dion and Michael Buble.

For the record Feliz Navidad means ‘Merry Christmas’ (just in case you didn’t realise thatJ). An interesting fact about Jose Feliciano is that he was born blind and yet was still able to go on to become a well-established artist and sing-songwriter. His courage and dedication remind us that God can make use of all of our talents, no matter our limitations.

When we sing this lovely song, we often only sing part of it, which goes as follows:

Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad
Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
Celebremos juntos la vida
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
Y que viva la alegría
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart

May you have a Blessed Christmas and peaceful New Year. Much love from our family to all of you.

Living in Grace


Thursday 24 December 2020

O Come all Ye Faithful

There is always a special invitation for all people to come and worship Jesus and to celebrate his birth. However, for me, there is something even more overwhelming and that is to worship Christ, in the presence of the ‘faithful.’ It is almost as if we can let all our inhibitions go and worship as freely as we choose.

O Come all ye Faithful is just that special invitation, and as the song progresses, verse by verse, we feel as if we are joining in with shepherds, angels, Magi and generations of faithful followers who have come to Adore the King of Angels.

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him
Born the King of Angels

O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
O come, let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!


God of God, Light of Light
Lo, He abhors not the Virgin's womb
Very God
Begotten, not created

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God
All glory in the highest

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning
Jesus, to Thee be glory given
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing

This beautiful hymn as had a long list of potential authors, including Cistercian Monks, Saint Bonaventure in the 13th Century, as well as the king of Portugal, John IV (1604–1656), John Reading (1604–1656) and John Francis Wade (1711–1786).

Although most modern hymn books attribute the words to Wade, this is more than likely due to the fact that his name appears on the earliest English printed versions of the song. Even then, it is believed that Wade was such a gifted copyist, that people often requested him to write out lyrics, poems and other manuscripts due to his beautiful hand-writing.

For me, it doesn’t matter in the end. The Hymn stirs up a great emotion in me and urges all of us to ‘greet our Saviour’ on this happy morning. Christmas Day is the watershed moment in the history of the world that constantly reassure us that God loved us enough to appear to all humanity. There is no greater gift than that!

I wish you a Blessed Christmas and Hopeful New Year.

Living in the Grace of Jesus


Wednesday 23 December 2020

As with gladness men of old

As far as hymn writers go, William Chatterton Dix breaks the mould, especially in his home country of Great Britain. Most of the British hymn writers in the nineteenth century were clergymen, but William was not – he was trained in the business world and worked as a manager of a marine insurance company. He is the author of the wonderful Christmas song As with gladness men of old.

I think this is an important reminder for all of us, that it is not just the clergy who are called to share God’s love and the Gospel, but we all carry that privilege. William Dix chose to use his personal encounter with Christ as a motivation to write his own lyrics and music. He was born in Bristol in 1837 and died in Cheddar (Somerset) in 1898.

In a week where we have been excited to see our own Bethlehem star rising (21 December – Jupiter and Saturn), it is fitting that we note the references to the star in this hymn. As a family we went in search of the star on Monday evening and it was so exciting to get a glimpse of it – it reminded me of the original Bethlehem star and the hope that star gave to all of us.

As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold,
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright:
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore your splendour see.


As with joyful steps they sped
Saviour, to your lowly bed,
there to bend the knee before
you, whom heaven and earth adore:
so with ever-quickening pace
may we seek your throne of grace.


As they offered gifts most rare
at your cradle plain and bare,
so may we with holy joy
pure and free from sin's alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to you, our heavenly king.


Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way,
and when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last:
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds your glory hide.


In the heavenly city bright
none shall need created light
you, it’s light, its joy, its crown,
you its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing
alleluias to our king.

Let us follow the light of Christ's love this Christmas.  

Living in Grace


Tuesday 22 December 2020

Calypso Carol

There is a certain element of fun, joy and exuberance in the Calypso Carol that always brings a smile to my face.

            See him lying on a bed of straw: 

a draughty stable with an open door;
Mary cradling the babe she bore
the prince of glory is his name.


O now carry me to Bethlehem
  to see the Lord of love again:
  just as poor as was the stable then,
  the prince of glory when he came.


This modern Carol was written by Michael Perry during the 1960’s (probably 1964) and has often been introduced on radio as a folk carol with West Indian influence. The fame of this particular carol has even prompted the Caribbean island of Nevis to put certain words from the song onto their local postage stamps.

What is even more interesting is that the Calypso Carol came to fame almost by accident. Michael Perry apparently composed the original tune for a college carol show, never intending it to become so popular. A local musician, by the name of Cliff Richard (yes, the Sir Cliff) was putting together a selection of songs for his radio show and needed a song to fill in a gap. He ended up choosing the Calypso carol and it got such a positive response that people began requesting it.

The BBC program Songs of Praise invited it’s viewers to vote for their preferred carols throughout the year 2005. Many thousands of people cast their votes and the Calypso Carol was one of the top 10 choices, for that year. These 10 Carols were then sung at the Christmas Concert (2005) held at the Royal Albert Hall. I am sure that this only helped to spread the popularity of this catchy tune.

For me, the key verse is the last one (verse 4). It speaks of the tremendous gifts we are given through God’s generous gift of his son, Jesus (Matthew 2).

Mine are riches, from your poverty,
from your innocence, eternity;
mine, forgiveness by your death for me,
child of sorrow for my joy.
(Michael Perry (1942 - 1996)

God bless you all

Living in Grace


Monday 21 December 2020

Angels from the realms of glory


James Montgomery (1771-1854) is often considered to be of the same ilk as hymn-writers, Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, which is a huge compliment in my books. Many of our hymnals will contain a number of Montgomery’s songs, with Angels from the realms of glory sure to be in most of these.

British hymnologist J.R. Watson states, “James Montgomery was a well-known poet, highly thought of by his contemporaries such as Shelley and Byron.”

Montgomery’s father was a minister, and his parents served as missionaries to the West Indies at one point in their ministry. He remained in Yorkshire, and from age 6 was raised in a boy’s boarding school. James later said, “There, whatever we did was done in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, whom we were taught to regard in the amiable and endearing light of a friend and brother.”

It is believed that Montgomery began writing poetry from a young age (around 10). He was not so great with the rest of his academic schooling and dropped out of school at 14. He later found a job in 1792, working at the radical weekly newspaper, the Sheffield Register, which later became the Sheffield Iris. James served as the editor of this publication for 31 years.

“Angels from the realms of glory” was first published on Christmas Eve 1816 and is enjoyed for its sense of anticipation and excitement of the birth of Jesus (www.umcdiscipleship.org).


I am including the words of the hymn that mean the most to me at this point in my own Spiritual journey. Verse 3 speaks loudly to me today. May we echo the words of the Angels...


Angels from the realms of glory
Wing your flight through all the earth
Ye who sang creation's story
Now proclaim Messiah's birth

In excelsis deo
In excelsis deo

Verse 3

Sages, leave your contemplation
Brighter visions beam afar
Seek the great desire of nations
Ye have seen His natal star

Living in Grace


Sunday 20 December 2020

Away in a Manger

Away in a Manger is definitely one of the most popular Christmas Carols of all time and perhaps for many of us, brings back loads of childhood memories. There has been a fair amount of debate on the origins of the carol, with initial thoughts suggesting it was the work of Martin Luther and was often referred to as Luther’s Cradle Song. However, it seems that most scholars now agree that the lyrics are not the words of Luther and may have to remain as anonymous. The music (tune) was the work of two men in the late 1800’s - William J. Kirkpatrick (1895) and James Ramsey Murray (1887). This version of the song is attributed to William Kirkpatrick’s adaption:

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with thee there.

Regardless of who the author is, I feel that the song offers us all a great deal of hope and it seeks to remind us to have a childlike faith in coming to Christ. Jesus is the ‘word made flesh’ and through his life we are given a glimpse of the nature of the Almighty! We can ask Jesus to be with us and to keep loving us throughout the complexities of our lives.

Having had 3 boys of our own, I am still not sure about the line ‘no crying he makes’! Although it was probably an attempt to show the divinity of the Christ-child, it would make all parents feel a lot better to know that even Jesus cried when he was an infant. If he wept when his friend, Lazarus died, I am sure that he cried when he was hungry and thirsty as a tiny baby.

What do you think?

Living in Grace


Friday 18 December 2020

What a beautiful name

There are so many fantastic modern songs that speak into the birth of Jesus Christ and God’s decision to send him to be our Saviour. The words of What a Beautiful Name truly capture the essence of the Incarnation for us and they also point us forward to the mystery of the cross.

You were the Word at the beginning
One with God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

What a beautiful name it is
What a beautiful name it is
The name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful name it is
The name of Jesus

You didn't want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now

The words of this song were written and composed by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood in December 2015, before it was performed by Hillsong Worship in 2016. It is too early to tell if this song will be a classic, like many of the older hymns and carols, but it certainly has a beautiful melody and is really easy to sing along with.

The lyrics have come in for some criticism from a few scholars, but the heart of the song is based around these passages from Hebrews 1:1–1:4 and Colossians 1.  Personally I was not looking to be critical when I first heard the song. I love the opening verse – it really reminds me of how God’s glory is revealed in the birth of Jesus Christ.

There is so much HOPE and CONSOLATION in the name of Jesus Christ. Indeed, what a beautiful name it is.

Thought: When you are facing a really tough time, all you need to do is breathe in and speak the name of Jesus. You will slowly start to feel more at peace. Try this a few more times and see what the precious name of Jesus does in your spirit.

Living in Grace


Thursday 17 December 2020

While Shepherds watched


While shepherds watched their flocks by night has arguably been one of the Christmas Carols that has had many “lyrical adjustments” over the years. Many of us know this song as the one about the Shepherds washing their socks at night J Although it has nothing to do with the dirty socks of the Shepherds, it does have a lot to do with the annunciation of the Angels (Luke 2:8-14).

The song was first seen in a print in 1700, which suggests it was composed a few years before this date. It was written by Nahum Tate (1652 – 1715), an Irish poet and was apparently the first Christmas hymn allowed to be sung in the Anglican church. All songs before then were taken directly from the Psalms of David. This should have given Nahum much prestige, but sadly it didn’t seem to change his fortunes very much – it is thought he died in relative obscurity.

The part of the carol that stands out for me today is the last verse – this is in particular respect to the public holiday “The Day of Reconciliation”, which was celebrated yesterday in South Africa. How amazing would it be if there was truly ‘peace on earth’ and ‘goodwill’ shown to all people?

While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around
And glory shone around

“Fear not,” he said,
For mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind,
To you and all mankind.”

“To you in David’s
Town this day
Is born of David’s line
The Saviour who is Christ the Lord
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign.”

“The heavenly Babe
You there shall find
To human view displayed
And meanly wrapped
In swathing bands
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid.”

Thus spake the seraph,
And forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song
Addressed their joyful song

“All glory be to
God on high
And to the earth be peace;
Goodwill henceforth
From heaven to men
Begin and never cease
Begin and never cease!”

Living in Grace


Tuesday 15 December 2020

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Charles Wesley is often overlooked in favour of his more illustrious brother, John. However, we should not ignore the huge impact that he made on the corporate worship on the English Church of the 18th Century. Initially his hymns, poems and songs were made famous in England, but later on they gained international prestige as Christians took the catchy tunes all over the world.

The first printed version of Come Thou Long Expected Jesus was found in a collection of Hymns that Charles put together for Advent in 1744. Therefore it is very likely that he wrote the words a while before this date. The lyrics remind us of two pivotal events in the Christian experience – the First Coming of Christ (Jesus’ birth) and his Second Coming. Wesley often used his songs to help the ‘ordinary person’ understand theology in a simpler way.

It is thought that Wesley may have taken some inspiration from many Old Testament passages which referred to the promise of freedom for the oppressed. The Lord (Messiah) was spoken of as Israel’s consolation.

Another unlikely source of inspiration may have come from Blaise Pascal, who is often quoted as arguing: "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person that cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator.” If you read the last line of verse 1, you will see the connection to this point.

Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart

Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.

I am grateful that Jesus has already come to offer us freedom, consolation and strength. We are certainly going through so many times of trial at the moment and it reassures me to know that my King reigns and will rule in my heart.

Living in Grace


Monday 14 December 2020

You left your Throne (Thou didst leave thy throne)

Thanks for the feedback I received from a few of you regarding the songs/hymns you would like me to write about this advent season. One of the requests concerns this beautiful song:

“Thou didst leave thy throne
And thy kingly crown
When thou camest to earth for me
But in Bethlehem’s home
Was there found no room
For thy holy nativity:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus!
There is room in my heart for thee.”
– Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott

When Emily wrote the words of this song she was trying to use music to teach young children the powerful story of Christ’s birth. It is thought that she wrote the song for the church her dad (Rev. Edward Elliott) was leading – St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Brighton, England. She based this song on the words from Luke’s gospel: Luke 2:7 “but there was no room for them in the inn.”

It seems as if writing and music was in the Elliott blood. Emily’s famous aunt was Charlotte Elliott, who wrote the well-known hymn ‘Just as I am.’ One of Emily’s works ‘Under the Pillow’ was a collection of her hymns, which was used especially to bring encouragement and hope to those who found themselves in hospitals and infirmaries.

For me there are 2 powerful statements that I am left contemplating today:

1. Jesus left his throne (and Kingdom) to come and live among us. Although the kingdom of God has no boundaries and is limitless, Jesus was initially given no room to sleep in, except for the dusty stable in Bethlehem.

 2.      Is there room in my heart for the Christ-child this year? Or have I allowed all the complications of this world to take up all the space in my spirit and therefore given God no room to bring me peace, joy, love and hope?

What do you think?

Living in Grace


Saturday 12 December 2020


As you are aware I have been reflecting on various Christmas carols and hymns over the last 2 weeks of Advent. For something different today, I want to share one of my favourite modern Christmas songs, written by Michael W. Smith. I am not sure if many of you have actually heard this song, but I highly recommend you click on the link and listen to it. It may just brighten your day. 

The song is called Christmastime and these are the words. I have highlighted the words that mean a lot to me this Christmas:

Ring Christmas bells
Ring them loud with the message bringing
Peace on the earth tidings of good cheer
Come carolers come and join with the angels singing
Joy to the world Christmastime is here again
Children gather around and listen
And you'll hear the sound
Of angels filling the sky
Telling everyone Christmastime is here
Ring Christmas bells
Ring them loud with the message bringing
Peace on the earth tidings of good cheer
Come carolers come and join with the angels singing
Joy to the world Christmas time is here again
Loved ones close to our hearts
And strangers in lands a far
Together share in the joy, Emmanuel
To tell the world
He has come to dwell
The time is near
With one voice, let the world rejoice
Christmastime is

God bless you and thanks again for taking the time to read this blog.
Living in Grace

Friday 11 December 2020

We Three Kings

The beloved Christmas carol, We Three Kings was written by an extremely gifted minister by the name of John Henry Hopkins Jnr. Not only was John an author, but he was also a book illustrator, a stained glass window designer, clergyman, songwriter and editor of the New York Church Journal. It is believed that Rev. Hopkins wrote We Three Kings for an 1857 Christmas pageant put on by the General Theological Seminary of New York City. In 1863, he also published this carol in his book Carols, Hymns and Song.

The story line of the song is based on a story from Matthews Gospel, telling of the Magi who travelled a long distance (most likely from Persia), guided by a bright star to see the child Jesus, the one who was hailed as the promised Messiah.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” - (Matthew 2:1-2)

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
We three kings, we three kings

Oh, star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light
We three kings, we three kings

I am challenged by the fact that Jesus drew all kinds of people to himself and the Magi in this story are no exception. There were/are so many people looking for some kind of light and salvation in their troubled lives. As I reflect on the Christmas story again I am humbled that it is in the Christ Child that I have found the perfect light.

NOTE: If there is a Christmas song/carol you would like me to blog about please send me a message - I would love to hear your favourites and share them with others.

Living in Grace


Thursday 10 December 2020

Once in Royal David's City

I have many childhood memories of Christmas and especially of the songs and carols we used to sing. I think that Once in Royal David’s City must take me back around 40 years or so.

Once in royal David’s city, stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby,
In a manger for His bed: Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ, her little Child.

There is something equally majestic and intriguing about this hymn and if I were to choose the ‘best’ verse from this song, I would suggest that the last verse is the most profound (for me).

And our eyes at last shall see Him, Through His own redeeming love; For that Child so dear and gentle, Is our Lord in heaven above: And He leads His children on, To the place where He is gone.

It is the thought that Christ leads us all to the place he has gone that fills me with hope and expectation. This resonates with the words of John 14, where Jesus reassures his disciples that he has gone ahead to prepare a place for them. I don’t know what that place will actually look like, but it is enough for me that Christ himself will be there.

Once in Royal David’s City first appeared in a collection, Hymns for Little Children in 1848. What makes this hymn unique is that it is one of only a few hymns to be written by a woman and to be recognised for its true merits. In an era when many women struggled to receive a public platform, Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) succeeded.

“She was born in Dublin, Ireland, and began writing in verse from an early age. She became so adept that by the age of 22, several of her hymn texts made it into the hymnbook of the Church of Ireland. Alexander [née Humphreys] married William Alexander, both a clergyman and a poet in his own right who later became the bishop of the Church of Ireland in Derry and later archbishop. Aside from her prolific hymn writing, Cecil Alexander gave much of her life to charitable work and social causes, something rather rare for women of her day” (www.umcdiscipleship.org)

Living in Grace



Wednesday 9 December 2020

Silent Night

The story behind the popular Christmas carol Silent Night, reminds me that God works in ways that are beyond our human understanding. This song was initially written as a poem and then set to music for a Christmas Eve service in a small Austrian village. The country had endured years of wars, suffering and constant strife. There was a deep longing for the peace of God to prevail, which sounds almost exactly the same as living in 2020.

I am struck by the fact that when I confront obstacles in my life I usually feel as if ‘my plans’ are being messed up. However, I need to develop the faith to know that God is always up to something and that God can truly bring order out of our chaos.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

This simple hymn has gone on to bring much solace and encouragement to many broken spirits over the last 202 years. It has been translated into over 140 languages and will surely be sung well into the next Century.

Living in Grace


If you are interested, here is the story of Silent Night as told by the author on www.german-way.com

On a cold Christmas Eve in 1818 pastor Joseph Franz Mohr walked the three kilometers from his home in the Austrian village of Oberndorf bei Salzburg to visit his friend Franz Xaver Gruber in the neighbouring town of Arnsdorf bei Laufen. Mohr brought with him a poem he had written some two years earlier. He desperately needed a carol for the Christmas Eve midnight mass that was only hours away. He hoped his friend, a school teacher who also served as the church’s choir master and organist, could set his poem to music. And one of the many amazing things about this carol is that Franz Gruber composed the “Stille Nacht” melody for Mohr in just a few hours on that December 24, 1818.

Recent flooding of the nearby Salzach river had put the church organ out of commission, so Gruber composed the music for guitar accompaniment. A few hours after Gruber finished his composition, he and Mohr stood before the altar of the St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf to perform their own work. A local choir group backed them up as the sounds of the brand new carol broke the silence of that “Stille Nacht.”

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Mary's Boy child

Mary’s Boy Child can be considered a modern Christmas Carol in some senses, as it was written and recorded in 1956. The song was written by Jester Hairston and first sung by the legendary Harry Belefonte. The song performed remarkably well from the moment it was released and continued to have success into the future.

It regained more popularity in the late 1970’s (1978) when Boney-M recorded their version of the song. Sadly, Jester Hairston has not received the kind of credit his song deserves, but when he died at the age of 98 in 2000, Jester did get credit for his tireless work to preserve the historical Negro spiritual. Part of the work that he did to preserve this genre of music was to direct and work with choral groups throughout his career. Hairston will be remembered for years to come for the excellent contribution he made to the world.

These are the words of the delightful carol. I have underlined the words that mean a lot to me during this Advent Season.

“Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say, Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day. 

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a new king was born today, And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day. Trumpets sound and angels sing, listen to what they say.  That man will live for evermore, because of Christmas day. 

While shepherds watch their flocks by night, they see a bright new shining star, they hear a choir sing a song, the music seem to come from afar. Now Joseph and his wife, Mary, came to Bethlehem that night, they found no place to bear her child, not a single room was in sight. 

By and by they find a little nook in a stable all forlorn, and in a manger, cold and dark, Mary’s little boy was born, long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say, Mary’s boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day.”

What a gift it is to comprehend that Christmas Day gives us the right and privilege to live forevermore. Eternity is given to us through the miracle of the child of Bethlehem. That is truly amazing!

Each and every one of you has the power, the will and the capacity to make a difference in the world in which you live in..” – Harry Belefonte

Living in Grace