Bells Across the Snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain!
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
’Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee,
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
With holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

–Frances Ridley Havergal

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Sherry, in Des Moines, who “adopted” me and my family and who has shown non-stop love in the 11 years I have known her.  She also introduced me to the poems and hymns of Frances Ridley Havergal. Thank you, Sherry.



Light in the Windows

Emily and I like looking at Christmas and snowy winter photos, and together we picked out the ones we liked the best. Our little girl (she is six-years-old now) is excited that we’re only 12 days away from Christmas Eve. Today she has practice at church for the Lessons and Carol service coming up next Friday.  She will be wearing her white choir robe and singing with the other children in the Cherub Choir the old, old story of our Savior’s birth. “I love to sing, Mama,” she told me last night.

Here are some of the images that we like best.  The contrast between the cold and dark and light and warmth through the windows in these images never fails to draw a viewer in.  It’s a cold and dark world and that’s why the love light in our homes and communities is what matters most.


whitechristmas6whiteChristmas 7

O Great Mystery

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.


Home Again

Will is home from college tonight. He arrived at the bus station too early for his dad to pick him up after work, so he walked down Wisconsin Avenue carrying all his stuff from college and arrived at Gesu Church where his beloved Schantz organ was waiting for him in the dark organ loft.

Our son recorded a Christmas carol just for me. I thought I’d share  Silent Night with the Hope Blog readers.

He also recorded this joyful fanfare just for fun. This is a fanfare he learned from Organist Emeritus at Gesu, John Weissrock, Will’s mentor in organ from the time he was a very small boy. The fanfare is usually the introduction to Christ the Lord is Risen Today at Easter, but Will whips it out when he is in a particularly joyful mood. He’s glad to be home, and Tom, Mary , Emmy and I are all so happy to have our tornado back for a few weeks from college.




A Small Tribute

I’ve said it all before, but this hectic season, I am saying it again. Sometimes we get so enthralled with the bad stuff and bad people in the world that we forget to appreciate the good.

tomwilsoncenterWe live on a broken planet, and the truth is that the brokenness can dominate our focus while the good is right there in front of us. I wanted to write this small tribute to my husband, Tom. He has kept going through everything thrown his way over 18 and a half years of our family. This Christmas season, again, I have watched as he has kept going through a lot of exhausting things. He is currently playing a long-running musical that challenges him in many ways. The show must go on, even through a terrible cough, icy roads, and even the wrong trumpet last week, so he had to transpose the entire show’s music in his head, live. He never complains.  He still has a sense of humor. He is kind to everybody. He is the truest Christian I have ever met who lives what he claims to believe. I want to be like him.

He managed to get our Christmas tree up when it didn’t look like he’d be able to find the time. (It was up in the rafters of the garage where I couldn’t get it.) Will’s been so slammed with exams and lessons and practice, he had no time either. But the tree is up. Emily is thrilled to see the ornaments she remembers from last year and the manger scene that she set up.

It isn’t long before Christmas, can you believe it? I am mulling over what to make for Christmas dinner. For the first time in my entire life, we went out for Thanksgiving dinner. It simply worked out best for all of us. Our son Emthanksgiving2013who is recovering from broken hip and leg was able to join us thanks to the disability access at the place where we ate. There was a big fire in the fireplace at the German restaurant. Emily was so awed by the stained glass there and the high-beamed ceiling and the balcony that she leaned over and whispered, “Is this a church?” All in all, though, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Will missed green bean casserole, so he’s getting plenty of that this Christmas to make up for it!

I thought I’d share this sweet old carol I love. I think it’s my favorite. It evokes so many dear thoughts and memories in my mind, as I am sure every carol does for someone. More than anything, it reminds me of our Savior and the Incarnation. What a miracle!


A Dutch Christmas Carol

Here are the English lyrics of this lovely Dutch Christmas Carol.

bellsJesus, You are welcome here with us today.
You came to earth from heaven on Christmas day.
Jesus, You are welcome now to stay with us again.
In our sinful hearts, give us mercy, come and reign. Kyrieleis. (Have mercy, Lord)

“Christ have mercy on us”, we together sing.
For what You’ve done to save us our praise we bring.
You were born on Christmas, God among us here to be.
Bringing us salvation, from sin to set us free. Kyrieleis. (Have mercy, Lord)

Shepherds in the fields heard angels’ words of cheer.
They could not understand it: they shook with fear.
“Go and find your Savior,” said the angel in the skies.
“Leave your sheep to seek him: in Bethlehem he lies.” Kyrieleis. (Have mercy, Lord)

Wise men came to seek him from a distant land.
To give their richest treasure was what they planned.
Placing gold and frankincense and myrrh before their King,
Love and adoration, the best of gifts to bring. Kyrieleis. (Have mercy, Lord.)