Brightest and Best

This post was used Just before Christmas when I discovered it is actually used at Epiphany. never the less I thought it worth another post as Sunday was Epiphany.

Reginald Heber (1783–1826) wrote Brightest and Best. Heber was Anglican bishop of Calcutta and was by all accounts a good man, standing up for Indian rights and opposing the more obvious defections of imperialism. He focuses only on the magi, poetically describing their exotic gifts in verse 3. The carol’s theme is a little like Rossetti’s Bleak Midwinter, with its final verse pondering what gifts we moderns might bring to the manger, having reflected on the humble-looking child’s cosmic pedigree. Heber uses a little less syrup than Rossetti, noting God’s acceptance of heart-felt worship and humble prayer rather than futile and unwanted physical offerings.  

Brightest and Best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Savior of all!

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Fragrance of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Hail the blest morn, when the Great Mediator,
Down from the regions of glory descends;
Shepherds, go worship the babe in the manger.
Lo, for His guard, the bright angel attends.

Brightest and Best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

The birth of Jesus

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Matthew 1 New International Version

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

A while ago I was given a book of daily bible verses and the highlighted verse above is the one I read this morning. (Suppose I should of kept it for Christmas really).

Starry Night

Matthew 2 New International Version

The Magi Visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

It Was On A Starry Night

It was on a starry night
When the hills were bright
Earth lay sleeping
Sleeping calm and still
Then in a cattle shed
In a manger bed
A boy was born
King of all the world.

Chorus:
And all the angels sang for Him
The bells of heaven rang for Him
For a boy was born
King of all the world.
And all the angels sang for Him
The bells of heaven rang for Him
For a boy was born
King of all the world.

Soon the shepherds came that way
Where the baby lay
And were kneeling
Kneeling by His side
And their hearts believed again
For the peace of men
For a boy was born
King of all the world.

The Story Behind ‘Silent Night’

The lyrics to Silent Night were written by Josef Mohr, a man whose name was unloved in his home town of Salzburg. Mohr was one of three illegitimate sons to Anna Schoiberin, while his father, Franz, was a mercenary soldier who eventually abandoned the family. To make matters worse, Josef’s godfather was the town executioner.

Perhaps due to his mother’s poverty, the curate of the local Catholic cathedral took Josef in as a foster child. Josef had a proclivity toward music, which was encouraged by the church, and he eventually decided himself to pursue the priesthood. He was ordained August 21, 1815, and was sent to Oberndorf, just north of Salzburg. He there met Franz Xaver Gruber, a local schoolteacher who would become organist at Old Saint Nicholas Church the following year.

Gruber came from equally humble origins, and himself took comfort in his music. The friendship of the two is what led to the creation of Silent Night.

Silent Night—or Stille Nacht in the original German—was created because Mohr needed a carol for worship. On Christmas Eve of 1818, Mohr visited Gruber with a poem he had written a few years earlier. Gruber quickly arranged the song to be played on a guitar with a choir because the church organ was broken. That evening at Midnight Mass, Gruber strapped on his guitar and led the congregation at St. Nicholas in the first rendition of Silent Night.

The original arrangement was a bit faster than the slow, reflective version of the song we know today. But the song was an immediate hit, later being sung by traveling tours and performed before King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Later in the 1800s, the hymn was translated into English and made its way to America by way of a book called Sunday School Hymnal, though with only three of the original six verses.

Today, Silent Night is perhaps the most famous Christmas carol in history. It has been translated into most languages, and the Bing Crosby version is the third-bestselling single in history. A rebuilt Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf is now a cultural landmark (a replica can be found in Frankenmuth, Michigan). The song itself was even declared to be an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011.

1 Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round the virgin mother and child;
Holy infant, tender and mild,
Rests in heavenly peace.

2 Silent night! Holy night!
Guiding star, lend thy light.
See, the eastern wise men bring
Gifts and homage to our King,
Jesus Christ is here.

3 Silent night! Holy night!
Wondrous star, lend thy light.
With the angels let us sing
Hallelujahs to our King,
Jesus Christ is here.

Bed of Straw

Photo by TheWonderOfLife on Pexels.com

Luke 2 New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Honouring the Lord

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Philippians 2 New International Version 

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature<sup class="footnote" style="box-sizing:border-box;font-size:.625em;line-height:22px;position:relative;vertical-align:top;top:0;" data-fn="#fen-NIV-29398a" data-link="[a]”>[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature<sup class="footnote" style="box-sizing:border-box;font-size:.625em;line-height:22px;position:relative;vertical-align:top;top:0;" data-fn="#fen-NIV-29399b" data-link="[b]”>[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

This is one of my early videos I liked when I started watching video’s on You tube. Unfortunately I don’t know the exact words and there is an additional chorus been added to the song by the band as you will hear

The New Jerusalem

Revelation 21 New International Version – UK 

A new heaven and a new earth

21 Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death”[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.’

Admittedly for some reason I do not like the tune to ‘The Holy City’ but it is a song about the above passage of scripture.

Although I may not like the tune what I do like is the image i portrays in your mind, a Jerusalem where there is no death,mourning,crying or pain.

Lets face it Jerusalem at the moment is a long way of that nowadays.

God also tells us he is the Alpha and the Omega and people will not go thirsty, also the victorious will inherit his kingdom. Wheres as the wicked will be condemned to hell.

“The Holy City”

Last night I lay asleeping
There came a dream so fair,
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there
I heard the children singing
And ever as they sang,
Methought the voice of Angels
From Heaven in answer rang
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Lift up you gates and sing,
Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna to your King!”

And then methought my dream was chang’d
The streets no longer rang
Hush’d were the glad Hosannas
The little children sang
The sun grew dark with mystery,
The morn was cold and chill
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem!
Hark! How the Angels sing,
Hosanna in the highest,
Hosanna to your King!”

And once again the scene was chang’d
New earth there seem’d to be,
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea
The light of god was on its streets
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day,
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away
“Jerusalem! Jerusalem
Sing for the night is o’er
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna for evermore!”

Will you come to Jesus

Philippians 2 New International Version

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

1 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.

2 Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

3 Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

4 When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Wonderful words set to a equally wonderful tune ‘Margaret’. This as you see is an arrangement of the hymn tune where you will hear i come in a few times.

Holy Ground

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Exodus 3 New International Version 

Moses and the Burning Bush

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

As I walked
Through the doors
I sensed his presence
And i knew
This was a place
Where love abounds
For this is a temple
The Jehovah God abides here
we are standing
In his presence
On holy ground

We are standing
On holy ground
And i know,
I know there are angels
All around
Let us praise,
Praise Jesus now
we are standing

On holy ground

In his presence
there is joy
Beyond all measure
And at his feet
peace of mind
Can still be found
If you have a need
I know he has the answer
reach out and claim it
For we are standing
On holy ground

We are standing
On holy ground
And i know,
I know there are angels
All around
Let us praise,
Praise Jesus now
we are standing

On holy ground

We are standing
On holy ground
And i know,
I know there are angels
All around
Let us praise,
Praise Jesus now
we are standing

On holy ground.

In his holy wonderful presence
He loves us in our hour of sorrow
He’s our hope, our hope for tomorrow
We are standing in his presence
In holy ground
Holy ground

New Beginnings

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2 Corinthians 5 The Message

A New Life

14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused centre: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

I want to be close, close to your side
So heaven is real and death is, a lie
I want to hear voices of angels above
Singing as one
Hallelujah, holy, holy
God almighty, the great I am
Who is worthy, none beside thee
God almighty, the great I am
I want to be near, near to your heart
Loving the world and hating the dark
I want to see dry bones living again
Singing as one
Hallelujah, holy, holy
God almighty, the great I am
Who is worthy, none beside thee
God almighty, the great I am
The great I am
The mountains shake before you the demons run in fear
At the mention of the name king of majesty
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the great I am
The great I am, the great I am yeah
Hallelujah, holy, holy
God almighty, the great I am
Who is worthy, none beside thee
God almighty, the great I am
Hallelujah, holy, holy
God almighty, the great I am
Who is worthy, none beside thee
God almighty, the great I am
The great I am
The great I am
The great I am