An ancient Christmas carol you may have never heard

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Most of us are familiar with Christmas carols like "Silent Night," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," and "Once in Royal David's City." Though these hymns are old and venerable, they are rather new compared to others. The church has been writing hymns since its inception, and that includes hymns to commemorate the Lord's Nativity. Here is an example, chanted in Arabic by Nader Hajjar.I don't know exactly how old it is, but there's a reference at the end linking Christmas to Theophany (same … [Read more...]

How to read icons of the Nativity

Mary and Christ

The church has long used iconography to teach and proclaim the gospel. And the Icon of the Nativity, laden thick with theological symbolism and biblical references, can help us better understand and appreciate the mystery of the Incarnation.I have here two examples of the icon, with some explanation for the key imagery. The first is by Theophanes the Cretan, an iconographer who worked in the first half of the sixteenth century. The second is from the Russian Novgorod school of the late … [Read more...]

What a stomach bug taught me about Christmas

Detail from Jan de Bray's Adoration of the Magi

It started the the day before with Felicity puking. Then Fionn came down with it.After he threw up more than a dozen times, he woke up several more times with night terrors. And then Jonah joined in. Ah, yes. There's nothing quite like a stomach bug for the holidays.The next morning, while I was cleaning things up and getting ready for the day, Pandora played carols in the corner. "Silent Night" started. Don't mock me, I thought. It was not a silent night. All was not calm. And all was not … [Read more...]


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