“Coventry Carol”

I discovered the Coventry Carol in a novel by Helen MacInnes when she used it at a critical moment in her story. It’s a song that’s probably unfamiliar to many Americans. I know I’ve never heard it sung in church or in concert here in the United States.

The carol is both lullaby and lament, sung by the women of Bethlehem to their children, slain by the decree of an enraged Herod. It was written in the sixteenth century for The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors in Coventry, a pageant that told the story of the birth of Jesus, beginning with the Annunciation and ending with the killing of the little baby boys of Bethlehem.1

Now when they [the magi] had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“Out of Egypt I called my Son.”

Das Massaker der Unschuldigen François-Joseph NavezThen when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.

Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.”
Matthew 2:13-18

This is a lovely and poignant rendition of Coventry Carol by Valeria Mignaco and Alfonso Marin.

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 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 say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

John MacArthur, preaching on Matthew 2:16-23, said:

“…Those little babies, they didn’t know it but those precious little babies in Bethlehem at that time were the first casualties in the warfare waged between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdoms of His Christ, they were the first casualties. But ultimately the victory would be won, the babies surely, if I read my Bible right, the minute they died went instantly into the presence of God, who gathers the little ones in His arms and says, “Forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom.” And the mothers, they could stop weeping because this very One who was now exiled in Egypt would come back to offer them a salvation that could unite them with their own babies….

“Matthew paints a masterpiece of a picture. Micah, he said the King would come to Bethlehem, and to Bethlehem He came. Hosea, the King would come through Egypt, through Egypt He came. Jeremiah, there would be weeping like Rachel in Ramah of old in the picture of Jeremiah, and there was as the mothers wept over the babies, beside the tomb of Rachel in the Ramah of Bethlehem. And the prophets of old said His name would be Nazarene, and He would be from Nazareth, and so it was. And at each point, He fulfills a prophecy that solidifies His right to reign. And so says Matthew, this is the King, by genealogy, by birth, by worship, by the jealousy of hatred, and by the fulfillment of prophecy this man was born a King, for this cause came He into the world.”2


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In the Anglican ecclesiastical calendar December 28th is The Innocents’ Day on which the little ones slaughtered in Bethlehem are remembered.
Das Massaker der Unschuldigen by François-Joseph Navez
1Coventry Carol:  The Hymns and Carols of Christmas.
Video by Lutevoice: Valeria Mignaco & Alfonso Marin, soprano-lute duo.
2John MacArthur, “The King Fulfills Prophecy, Part 2.” http://www.gty.org
This article originally appeared here at Grace to You

Copyright ©2012–2016 Iwana Carpenter

Posted in Adversity, Christmas, Evil, Jesus Christ, Music, Perilous Times, Personal Distress, Suffering | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hallelujah!”

Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.”
Revelation 19:6

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

The formality of a concert setting is fitting for praising the Lord Jesus in His majesty and wonder, while listening in a food court reminds us the Gospel is for the reality of who we are. There have been several flash-mob settings of the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah. This one is from November 2010.

“…and He shall reign for ever and ever….King of Kings, and Lord of Lords….Hallelujah!”

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Messiah: Libretto: Old and New Testament Passages selected by Charles Jennens
Oratorio: George Frideric Handel

Christmas Candle Stars: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications: cropped with “Messiah” wording added.

Copyright ©2010–2016 Iwana Carpenter

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“O Come All Ye Faithful”

I have always loved to sing O Come All Ye Faithful on Christmas morning.  The last verse bursts into a crescendo of joy as it calls us to worship and adore Jesus Christ the Lord.

“Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given!
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”

This video is an orchestral arrangement by the Icelandic composer and organist, Stefan H. Kristinsson.

A very happy Christmas morning to you!  Whatever our circumstances, we are blessed because of the birth of our King.

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Copyright ©2010–2016 Iwana Carpenter

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“Carol of the Bells”


Bells have been used for centuries to mark events of significance. Carol of the Bells was composed by the Ukrainian composer, Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych, and is frequently performed by handbell choirs. These handbell ringers in Taipei are unique, however; their entrance and processional as they ring out the notes enhances and underscores the exuberant melody. The sights and sounds are a wonderful way to ring in Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas!

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Copyright ©2010–2015 Iwana Carpenter

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Galatians 4:4-5

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

“John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
John 1:1–18 (KJV)

Merry Christmas!

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Anbetung der Hirten: Gerard van Honthorst, Public Domain.

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“Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”

In many churches I’ve attended it is a tradition to close the Christmas Eve service by singing Silent Night.  This carol was written and first sung in Oberndorf, Austria.

“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!

“Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
glories stream from Heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ, the Saviour, is born!
Christ, the Saviour, is born!


“Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, Love’s pure light
radiant, beams from Thy Holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.”


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Silent Night, Wikipedia.
Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria, Photograph by Gakuro,
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Video: Phillip Sear, pianist; Gustav Lange: ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’, Op. 232.

Original content: Copyright ©2010–2016


Iwana Carpenter

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