From eucharistic hymn to Christmas carol

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence” is a hymn about Holy Communion.  But now it keeps showing up as a Christmas carol!  That’s how it’s presented in Christmas concerts, holiday recordings, and on many of the renditions on Youtube.  But it is “an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion.”

I can see how it would shift over to the Christmas canon.  It has a beautiful, otherworldly melody of the same sort associated with Christmas music.  It talks about how “Christ our God to earth descendeth” and that He was “born of Mary.”  But the point is that “He will give to all the faithful/His own self for heavenly food,” “in the body and the blood.”

But this is quite fitting to associate Holy Communion with Christmas and vice versa.  What other Communion hymns could work as Christmas hymns?  What other Christmas songs could work as Communion songs?

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He will come like crying in the night

You will note that I have mostly resisted the temptation to conflate Advent with the Christmas season, but I will start with the Christmas posts now that we are in the week before the Nativity of Our Lord.  But to salute Advent, I offer you, after the jump, a fine poem on the subject by Rowan Williams, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Spycraft and Christmas presents

Target has hired former CIA operative Jonna Mendez as an online “Kid’s Gift Detective” to help parents shop for their children and hide the presents. She was the “chief of disguise” with the agency, working in the Office of Technical Service, which she describes as having something like the function of Q in the James Bond movies.  Her husband, Antonio, was the CIA agent in Iran played by Ben Affleck in the movie Argo.

I was not aware that children are particularly secretive when it comes to what they want for Christmas, to the point that parents need cloak and dagger tradecraft to get them to reveal that information.  I guess the common element in being a spy and shopping for Christmas presents is a lot of sneaking around.  See some of the tactics she recommends after the jump. [Read more…]

Advent and the three-fold coming of Jesus

It’s Advent Season!  Here is a fine explanation of its different dimensions from Rev. Shawn Stafford:

The word “Advent” means “coming.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Jesus’ three-fold coming: His coming in the flesh at Christmas, His coming now through His Word and Sacrament, and His coming at the end of the world as King and Judge. Advent is also a time of personal preparation for Christ’s coming through repentance and faith. [Read more…]

Have a grateful Thanksgiving

I hope you have a meaningful Thanksgiving, with the thankful part not overshadowed by shopping, football, gluttony, family spats, or other distractions.  Towards that end, this special edition of the Cranach blog will offer some meditations about things we really should be thankful for.  Remember that comment made by someone–Chesterton?  It sounds like Chesterton.  Please source it in the comments if you know who it was–to the effect that one of the sad parts of being an atheist is feeling thankful, without having anyone to thank. As for Christians, we do know Whom to thank and must never take even the commonest of His blessings for granted.  [Read more…]

The blessings of family

Someone has said (again, please help me source it if you can) that if you have a wildly successful career but have a miserable family life, you will be miserable.  And if you have a miserable career but have a happy family life, you will be happy. [Read more…]