In keeping with the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Verse of the Day for December 20, 2016 comes from Luke 2:1, 4-5 as recorded in the Amplified Bible:
[Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem] Now in those days a decree went out from [the emperor] Caesar Augustus, that all the inhabited world (the Roman Empire) should be registered [in a census]. So Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register with Mary, who was betrothed to him, and was with child.
One of the blessings of Christmas is the wonderful music associated with this festive holiday season. While the carols and songs from the past as well as contemporary songs of celebration are enjoyable, some of the spirituals associated with Christmas are especially appreciated. As a form of African American folk music born out of the soul of slavery, the spiritual has become what Lovell described as “the foundation stone of black song and black poetry.” Today the spiritual is widely recognized and appreciated all over the world.
Earlier this month, a blog entry also focused on the place where the Savior was born, as we note in “Bethlehem: More than the place of the Savior’s birth.” In addition, in the past I have posted a list of the Top 10 Christmas Spirituals with a discussion of their origin along with a musical sampling of some of my favorites. Today’s Verse of the Day has served as the inspiration for a number of songs of the season, including “Children, Go Where I Send Thee.” Here is a rendering of this Christmas classic by the Sojourners
Another popular song mentioning the birthplace of the Lord is “O, Little Town of Bethlehem.” The popular Christmas carol is said to have been written by Phillips Brooks, young Episcopalian minister who had made the treacherous journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, where he assisted with the midnight service in the Church of the Nativity in 1865. Three years later Rev. Brooks composed a song for his Sunday School with lyrics inspired by his previous journey. His organist, Lewis Redner, provided the music to what has become one of the all-time favorite Christmas carols: “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” offered as a medley with “Away in a Manger” by Kari Jobe.