Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Culture 101 (part 13) - Coventry Carol

Wikipedia/The Adoration of the Shepherds

Christmas carols have become part of the holiday tradition and part of our culture.  Many celebrate with winter songs as well as songs about the birth of Jesus, such as what is pictured above.

As concerning the more religious carols about Jesus, most are about His birth in Bethlehem, the baby Jesus in the manager, the shepherds hearing His birth announcement by the angels, the wise men from the east.  Here is a sample of such:

* The annunciation

The story can be found here - Luke 1:26 - 34  - The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Many songs celebrate this event, such as - Handel Messiah, Alto Recitative: Behold, a virgin shall conceive

* The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem 

The story of the birth is told  here  - Luke 2:1-7

And many carols sing about His birth in Bethlehem.  This one may be unique (a traditional spiritual sung in English, then Chinese) - Little Baby Jesus born in Bethlehem

* The shepherds visitation by angels 

The story of the angels announcing the birth to the shepherds abiding in the field is here - Luke 2:8-20

And many songs celebrate  this, such as - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

* The Wise men visit

The story is here - Matthew 2:1-12

And there are many carols such as - We Three Kings of Orient Are

But one part  seems to be skipped over in the Christmas story and carols.  That is ...

* The Slaying of the Innocents

The story is here - Matthew 2:13-18

In particular these verses tend to be skipped over -

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

Actually there is at least one traditional Christmas carol that sings about the slaying of the innocents.

* Coventry Carol *

The melody of this carol is hauntingly beautiful:
Wikidpedia / Coventry Carol

And it is set to these lyrics:

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.

Then, woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

As The Gospel of Matthew describes the slaying of the innocents when Jesus, the Deliverer, was brought into the world, likewise the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus describes the slaying of the innocents before the Deliverer - Moses - was brought into the world.  [reference:  Exodus 1:1-2:10]

Many celebrate Moses delivering his people in the feast of Passover.  And that feast looks back to the deliverance from slavery in Egypt as well as looking forward to the coming of the Messiah as sung below in this traditional Hebrew melody -

(reference: )

The lyrics in this arrangement combine Hebrew with English from Charles Wesley's hymn - Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (another great Advent carol):

Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu hatishbi
Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu, hagladi.
Bimheira b'yameinu yavo eileinu
Im Mashiach ben David, Im Mashiach ben David.

(Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilead, may he come
soon and in our days, with Messiah the Son of David.)

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

Bimheira b'yameinu, yavo elieinu
Mashiach ben David, Mashiach ben David
Bimheira b'yameinu, yavo elieinu
Mashiach ben David, Mashiach ben David

(Soon and in our days, Messiah the Son of David will come again to us.)

This Advent and Holy Season may we look back to the coming of the Messiah into the world.  And may be look forward to His second coming.  As St. John wrote the final words of the promise of the Second Coming in Revelation -

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.


Previous posts in the Culture 101 series:

Culture 101 (part 1) - Reagan's Challenge (2012)

Culture 101 (part 2) - Easter Eucatastrophe (2012)

Culture 101 (part 3) - Paul Revere's Ride (2012)

Culture 101 (part 4) - Gold Diggers and the Great Depression (2012)

Culture 101 (part 5) - Blue Bloods and 9/11 (2012)

Culture 101 (part 6) - Gilligan's Island and Breast Cancer Awareness (2012)

Culture 101 (part 7) - Band of Brothers  (2013)

Culture 101 (part 8) - Snow White (2013)

Culture 101 (part 9) - Father Knows Best (2013)

Culture 101 (part 10) - Summertime! x 3 (2013)

Culture 101 (part 11) - Native American Osmosis (2013)

Culture 101 (part 12) - Thanksgivukkah (Thanksgiving and Hanukkah) (2013)


Photos from: Wikipedia/The Adoration of the Shepherds ;   Wikipedia / Coventry Carol   

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