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Lyrics, Legends and Lore of Christmas
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Summary

Christmas lore ranges worldwide and reaches back into the mists of time. Author Alice Adamek has produced an excellent primer of Christmas culture, “Lyrics, Legends & Lore of Christmas”. One can never have too many books of Christmas literature. “Lyrics, Legends & Lore of Christmas,” is wonderful as a reference book, song book, recipe books, and most of all as a valued gift.

Published: Alice Adamek on
ISBN: 9780985001506
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Lyrics, Legends and Lore of Christmas - Alice Adamek

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Dedication

I’d like to thank my daughters, Sharry and Charlotte who were the inspiration for this book. Their love and support has given me the courage to start on this new career.

It's an all-consuming task, and a struggle to get all those words and ideas out of your head onto a piece of paper. Hoping you can convert them into a story line that emerges seamlessly from paper to the reader. I have learned that a resilient editor is a vital partner in the process. I currently have two additional books in the making. I wouldn't dream of having anyone but Nancy Hutchins do my editing."

It’s hard and scary to put something out there knowing everyone will be viewing your work. Without all my friends and relatives, who had faith, and who inspired and motivated me to pull it all together and finish this book, I thank them profusely; I doubt I would have done it without their little encouragements’.

Christmas in lands of fir trees and pine,

Christmas in lands of the palm tree and vine,

Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,

Christmas where cornfields lie sunny and bright,

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

Phillip Brooks

Introduction

Christmas is giving. God giving us His Son was the ultimate gift. Then of course, there was a whole book - the Bible - written about what Jesus, the Son of God, gave us: love, healing, even his own life. So, when I hear people scoff, Oh Christmas is just so commercial, I’m convinced they know nothing of what Christmas is really all about. In giving gifts out of love, we are trying to be godly. We are supposed to, and should feel good in remembering what Jesus willingly gave up for us.

I personally enjoy shopping for those I love, seeing the kids all excited, the lights, colors, and the smells. Every time I bump into someone with my shopping cart, or they into mine, I just look at them sheepishly and say, I drive my car like this, too. Isn’t it nice we met accidentally here in the store, and not on the highway? That usually rotates any negative attitude someone might have about shopping.

This book was started some forty years ago. My oldest daughter was about two and trying very hard to sing along with the carolers. I noticed that her version was quite different from the original lyrics of the songs, so I began to write the words to the Christmas songs down in long-hand. Eventually, I drew little pictures to put on the sheets of paper. When she was old enough to read, I gave her a copy of the book I had made. Every year we went on a hayride with friends and relatives, and many of them began to ask for the little book with the written lyrics, so I made extra copies.

Each year I would try to find something of interest or of importance about Christmas - for example, why do we have mistletoe? What does the Yule log mean? Where did it all start? I continued, adding information to the little stapled-together booklet, and everyone kept asking for it. They even made copies for their extended families!

Friends and relatives kept telling me that I had gathered so much wonderful information on the lyrics, legends, and lore of Christmas that I should put it all in one book and share it with everyone. It had all the words to their favorite Christmas carols, plus some recipes. People were sure there were many more things that they would like to know and consequently encouraged me to do more research.

I didn’t give the world a son that would die for them, but I hope this little stapled-together booklet that has grown and grown will make everyone think of the true meaning of Christmas, the real Son of God, and His teachings. So, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Alice Adamek

Preface

Lyrics, Legends and Lore of Christmas conveys, in six little words, the concept of Christmas. Who remembers all the words to Christmas carols? How many have gotten a good chuckle from the la-la that’s so often used to replace forgotten words? This book will serve as a resource for those of us who love to sing those beautiful carols.

There are recipes from many different countries that highlight the cuisine and customs of the old country. Christmas guests and families can better enjoy the many delicious delights of Christmas through a better understanding of their origins.

It’s absolutely amazing how Christmas is celebrated throughout the world, and it all stems from the same, or similar, pagan and Christian beliefs. The traditions and teachings all closely parallel one another.

We emulate Jesus’ giving His love, healing, and life by exchanging gifts. It’s done in person and through the figurehead of Santa Claus - and his many other names. Count this as being just one of the many traditions and customs that are recounted here in this book.

The Story of Christmas

The stories surrounding Christmas capture the spirit in a way that transcends all the commercial hype. Sometimes Christmas, more than Easter or Resurrection Sunday, is valued more in Christian culture than the other popular holy day of Christianity.

It is human nature that makes us happier and more focused on the birth of babies than on death and torture of accused criminals, particularly for the young people. The story of Christmas inundated with images of a young mother, angels, shepherds, a stable, wise Men, and regal intrigue that make the season so captivating.

Theologically, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth to a young maiden from Galilee is the celebration of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. It is Gods self-revelation of himself to the world in human form for the settlement of humanity to Himself.

Jesus' birth, known as the Nativity, is described in the New Testament of the Bible. But the Gospels of Matthew and Luke give different accounts of it. It is from them that the Nativity story is put together. Both explanations tell us that Baby Jesus was born to a woman named Mary. She was engaged to a carpenter, Joseph. Mary was a virgin according to the Gospels when she became pregnant.

In the account, that Luke gives a visiting angel brought Mary a message telling her, she would give birth to God's son.

In Matthews account, the visiting angel persuaded Joseph to marry Mary, rather than by sending her away or expose her pregnancy.

Matthew tells us about some Wise Men that followed a star that led them to Jesus' birthplace where they presented Him with gifts. They brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the baby Jesus. There were Shepherds led to Bethlehem by an angel in Luke’s version.

According to the Bible, shortly before Jesus birth, Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem. The Roman Emperor ruled that all Jewish people had to be counted to determine how much money to collect from them for tax. Joseph and Mary had to take part in a census. They had moved away from their family homes, and had to return so the Romans could enter their names in the records. This meant they had to make a trip back to their home town of Bethlehem.

Christmas: St. Luke 2:1-14

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the entire world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed everyone into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manager because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them, and they were sore afraid.

According to the Bible, shortly before Jesus' birth, Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem. The Roman Emperor ruled that all Jewish people had to be counted to determine how much money to collect from them for tax. Joseph and Mary had to take part in a census. They had moved away from their family homes, and had to return so the Romans could enter their names in the records. This meant they had to make a trip back to their home town of Bethlehem.

Now, living in Nazareth, Joseph and Mary began their long, arduous 90-mile journey to Bethlehem. To conserve her energy for the upcoming birth, Mary travelled on a donkey along the valley of the River Jordan, all the way past Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

When they arrived in Bethlehem, though, they could not find a place to stay. People returning for the census had already filled the local inn. In toughs’ days, people would keep their animals in a cave below their houses. The innkeeper, having nothing more to offer, invited them to stay in the rock stable below his house, which his animals was used as a stable. Here, next to the filth and noise of the animals, that Mary gave birth to her son. She laid him in a manger.

This was the beginning, and we shall now begin to explore how the story of Christmas is celebrated around the world and the legends that have grown up around it.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you are born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men.

Mary Did You Know?

Mary, did you know

that your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know

that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know

that your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you've delivered

will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know

that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know

your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know,

that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?

When you kiss your little baby,

you've kissed the face of God.

The blind will see

The deaf will hear

The dead will live again.

The lame will leap

The dumb will speak

The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know

that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know

that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?

Did you know?

That your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?

This sleeping child you're holding is the Great I Am

About this Song

Mark Lowry/Buddy Greene

In Houston, Texas Mark Lowry was born on June 24, 1958 to Charles and Beverly Lowry. He is single and has no children but has two beloved siblings - an older brother Mike and a younger sister Melissa (Missy) Carter, both of Lynchburg, Virginia. He often refers to his siblings as perfect. Mark also has three nieces and three nephews.

Lowry admits that he should be the Poster Boy for Hyperactivity and often uses anecdotes as a young boy in his comedy. He speaks of his experience with Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity in his performances.

He says he was always getting into trouble when he was a kid. With his hyperactivity, most people figured he’d grow up to be a criminal.

He was certain he would be a failure and never amount to anything; he said the voice inside him had convinced him of that. What is known today as A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) back in his day was just called being a brat. He was not your normal brat he confesses. He was the type of kid that made people know why some animals eat their young!"

In 1984, they asked him to write a script for a church Christmas play. He made up a list of questions he was going to ask Mary, mother of Jesus, and used these questions in between the scenes of the plays over the next decade. Part of the Christmas play script became the lyrics to the song. Lowry worked hard trying to find music to complete the song Mary, Did You Know. It took him twelve years, and two other writers to find the perfect musician for setting his lyrics to music - that person was Buddy Greene.

This beautiful, modern Christmas song has become a standard. More than thirty different artists have recorded this song including Michael English, Kathy Mattea, Donnie Osmond, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna Judd, Billy Dean, Natalie Cole, and Clay Aiken to name just a few.

Buddy Greene grew up in Macon, Georgia. He is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player. With a distinctly Southern flavor, country music as well as bluegrass, has influenced his gospel music recordings. He has written the music for many songs, widely recognized as an outstanding musician. At Carnegie Hall, he received a standing ovation for his Classical Medley, which he performed on his harmonica.

Date of the First Christmas and Its Precursors

Christmas arrives just after the middle of winter. The sun is getting stronger, and the days are beginning to grow longer, and at the winter solstice, Norsemen told stories, lit bonfires, and drank sweet ale. To the Norsemen, of Northern Europe, believed the sun was the wheel that changed the seasons. The wheel words (houl) and the word (yule) believed to have come from the Norsemen. People throughout history have celebrated by feasting and rejoicing at this time of the year. The Romans also held a festival to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Saturnalia, honouring the god Saturn, ran for seven days starting on December17th. At this time, masters dressed as servants and men dressed as women. Festivals involved processions, lighting candles, decorating houses with greenery, and giving presents.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

It came upon a 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 blessed angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife,

the world has suffered long,

Beneath the heavenly strain have rolled

two thousand years of wrong;

And man, at war with man, hears not

the tidings which they bring;

O hush the noise, ye men of strife,

and hear the angels sing!

O 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 prophets seen of old,

when with the ever-circling years

shall come the time foretold.

When peace shall over all the earth,

its ancient splendors fling,

and the whole world give back the song,

which now the angels sing.

About this Song

Edmund H. Sears

1810–1876

The beautiful poem by Reverend Edmund Hamilton Sears, first published in the Christian Register in, 1850 and was later set to music. The poem so elated Rev. Dr. Morrison, editor of the Christian Register, that he read it at several Christmas programs and even published it in his own magazine.

Sears published several books and poems of a religious nature. It Came upon a Midnight Clear was sent to fellow clergyman Richard Willis, brother of Nathaniel Parker Willis, with a request that he should find a musical setting for it. Willis adapted it to an old hymn tune. It Came upon a Midnight Clear a popular favorite in America is widely used in England.

Advent

Christmas is, in fact, a season of the year and not a single day as most of us often think. It is the four weeks before Christmas Day and two weeks afterward. Advent is a special time before Christmas comprised of the four Sundays before Christmas Day. Although Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, the entire Christmas season, can be seen together, they each have distinctly separate roles in the Church year.

Advent is the season of expectation and hope. It is the waiting period for the Messiah and to celebrate Christmas. Throughout the Old Testament, this is a time of waiting for the new act of God bringing deliverance to his people. This season of expectation for Christians symbolizes the waiting in expectation for the Second Coming of Christ. He will return and restore all things.

Christmas begins at sunset on Christmas Eve December 24th and lasts through January 5th. Christmas season known in many places as the Twelve Days of Christmas since this time includes 12 days.

Epiphany is a Christian festival, usually celebrated January 6th. Various church traditions carry different significances. This day commemorates the appearance of Christ to the. It means a manifestation, especially of a deity, an unexpected innate perception of or insight into the realism or essential meaning of something that is initiated by some simple or commonplace incident or experience.

The period of preparation called Advent is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning coming. It begins on Sunday nearest to the 30th of November and is the time of preparation for the observance of the birth of Jesus. Advent traditionally is a penitential season. However, Christians are no longer required to fast, and it is no longer kept with the rigorousness of Lent.

Advent wreaths are popular in homes and particularly in churches. They are prepared with fir branches and four candles. During Advent, a candle is lit each Sunday.

Churches are often full for the late service on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day festival is the most celebrated holiday by non Christian churchgoers.

O Holy Night

Minuit Chrétiens or Cantique de Noël

Oh holy night!

The stars are brightly shining.

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees. Oh hear the angel voices.

Oh night divine. Oh night when Christ was born.

Oh night divine.

Oh night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,

Here come the Wise Men from Orient land.

The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,

In all our trials born to be our friend.

Truly He taught us to love one another,

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name.

About this Song

Placide Clappeau

1808–1877

The words to O Holy Night written by Placide Clappeau, the mayor of Roquemaure France, and a wine merchant wrote poems for his own pleasure. A parish priest asked Clappeau to write a poem for Christmas mass. The words to the song came to him as he traveled to Paris on a business trip.

Adolphe C. Adam/John Sullivan Dwight

1812-1893/1803-1856

The music to O Holy Night composed by Adolphe C. Adam, the famed composer of the ballet, Giselle, which he had written a few years before. Adam composed the music in only a few days. Madame Laurey first sang the song in public at Midnight Mass in the church at Roquemaure in 1847.

The song was first published by Schott and Company in London around 1855. The carol went through various translations into many languages. John Sullivan Dwight, an American music critic, minister, and journalist translated the best known English version. The translations by Dwight are not a direct translation. They are more colorful than the doctrinal French original.

Many Christians were adverse to the song as a Christmas carol because of the non-Christian background of both Clappeau and Adam, (Clappeau was a social radical, freethinker, and socialist).

From the Franco-Prussian war of 1870–, there comes an unconfirmed story that while the French and German soldiers were facing each other in trenches outside Paris; a French soldier jumped out of his trench and sang a chillingly beautiful solo of Cantique de Noël (O Holy Night) in honor of Christmas Eve. The Germans were so awestruck by this solo that they did not fire upon him. Instead, a German soldier sang a hymn in return, Martin Luther’s Von.Himmel Hoch (From Heaven above to Earth I Come).

The Word Christmas

Scholars believe the use of Xmas as a representation of Christmas started in the thirteenth century. The X stands for the Greek letter chi. Chi is an abbreviation of Khristos, the Greek word for Christ.

In England, the birth of Christ is known as Christes masse, meaning Christ’s mass or mass of Christ. From the earliest days of the Christianity, festive celebrations for the birth of Christ have been held. The word Christmas in its full usage appeared around the ninth century.

The Date of Christmas

Luke 2:1–3, NIV:In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. Quirinius was the first governor of Syria to take a census. Everyone went to his own town to register.

Christ birth date was recognized but varied during the early centuries of Christianity. Celebrated in January, April - or even in May, some churches, however, did celebrate it in December. There are no historical records of Christ’s birth.

Most people think that the word yule was obtained from the word hweol, a name that the Norsemen used to describe the sun as a wheel. They worshipped the sun as the provider of life and light. During the winter solstice, the sun seemed to stand still for twelve days. Then it started its climb, bringing spring, the beginning of all new life. In its honor, the Roman pagans, Teutons, Britons, and Gaels celebrated the winter solstice with grand festivals. This may have had a large influence on the establishment of the Christmas date today. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, celebrated by the Hebrews, also falls during this time.

History tells us, that Judas Maccabaeus, vanquished an army of Syrians in 165 BC. Upon entering Jerusalem he found it to be a place of barrenness and desolation. On the twenty-fifth day of Kislev (approximately, the same date as our Christmas, December 25th), he finished his work of purification. A single jar of oil was all that could be found