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Appendix K

Old Songs, New Lyrics

Altered stanzas expand the meaning of familiar Christmas carols

Thursday, December 14, 2000

By Nancy Haught of The Oregonian staff

Hark! The carols that you sing,
may just have a different ring.
Peace on Earth and mercy mild
now with justice reconciled.
Hopeful consciousness will rise,
Join the movement; don't crack wise.
With new words, old tunes proclaim:
Traditions don't just stay the same.
Hark! The carols that you sing
May show some signs of tinkering.

Which may, or may not, be a good thing, depending on whether you're a strict literalist when it comes to Christmas carols or you're willing to tweak tradition to make a point.

Gerald Iversen is a tweaker. He is the national coordinator of Alternatives for Simple Living, a 25-year-old effort to -- to use the organization's own refrain -- "equip people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly." The group's latest effort, new this year, is a collection of alternative verses to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and 16 other familiar Christmas carols.

If history teaches us anything it's that Christmas carols are a resilient and persistent phenomenon. In his book "The Penguin Book of Carols," Ian Bradley traces the pagan roots of carols. The genre we know now as a hybrid of hymn, folk song and sacred ballad was adopted by the Christian church in the Middle Ages, suppressed by Puritans after the Reformation, reinstated at the Restoration, reinvented by the Victorians and rewritten by the moderns. Iversen isn't the first to fiddle with Christmas carols.

His organization's new stanzas sound calls for social justice, concern for the Earth and discipleship through simpler living.

"Jesus' birth has taken on much more cultural significance as a celebration of good will, warm feelings and excessive consumerism," Iversen said. "These stanzas help to connect his birth with our real-life discipleship."

For example, the traditional lyrics to "O Little Town of Bethlehem" describe Jesus' birth, while the Alternatives stanza, by John Becker, challenges Christians to look beyond the birth of Christ to what lives truly lived according to his teachings might look like.

Alternatives' verse to "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," by Cynthia A. Douglas, doesn't mince words, either.

Here's the old:

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ, our savior,
Was born upon this day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy . . .

Here's the new:

Now he is come to all the world, 
this lesson to impart
If we're to show his love 
there must be action on our part
To feed the poor, protect the weak, 
show kindness from the heart,
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy . . .

Iversen intends his group's new verses to be sung along with traditional ones, not in their place. While Alternatives wants to expand the lessons of traditional carols, others have focused on the language of the lyrics themselves. Most recent efforts to do so are born of a desire to make carols more inclusive by substituting gender-neutral language for the traditional masculine references to God, Christ and mankind.

In the groundbreaking "New Century Hymnal," published by The Pilgrim Press in 1995 and used in many United Church of Christ congregations, the traditional "O come let us adore him" became "O come in adoration."

Editors of other hymnals have resisted pressure to alter Christmas carol lyrics. Oregon Catholic Press, whose song books and missals are used in 60 percent of the Catholic parishes in the United States, has changed the words to only one Christmas carol, said Paulette McCoy, editorial director of the Portland-based press.

"We tested the waters," she said, with "Good Christian Men Rejoice," making it "Good Christians All Rejoice." Response to that single change, made almost 10 years ago, has been pretty evenly mixed, said Randy DeBruyn, executive director of worship publications. While he and McCoy encourage contemporary composers to write inclusively, both are loath to change the words of sacred songs that the faithful most likely know by heart, especially Christmas carols.

New lyrics can jar worshippers, McCoy said, breaking the reverent concentration of song. "St. Augustine said that singing is like praying twice," she said.

"These songs have sacred reverberations in the hearts and minds of many people of faith," DeBruyn said. McCoy offered her own cautionary refrain. "Changing the words to Christmas carols," she said, "is like changing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' "

So far, it's unclear to what degree "the world in solemn stillness lay" to hear Iversen's "Carols with Justice." Alternatives has posted sample lyrics on its Web site, www.SimpleLiving.org (click on the "Resources" button, then on "Whose Birthday" and finally on "Story" or call 800-821-6153), and charges only nominal fees for e-mail or paper copies of the collection.

So far, Iversen said, response has been good. "The opposition we expected hasn't materialized." So far, All is calm. All is bright.

 

You can reach Nancy Haught at 503-294-7625 or by e-mail at [email protected]
 

Carols with Justice

Alternatives for Simpler Living

When singing favorite carols, add justice to the traditional verses. Use the entire booklet or selections for group caroling, worship bulletin, newsletters, Holiday cards and letters. The reprint license permits you to copy any or all of the many thought-provoking verses.

Save money and time! If you prefer to format "Carols with Justice" to your own publications electronically, we will email it to you by request (text file) when you order either reprint license for this collection.

O Little Town of Bethlehem from Carols with Justice
When lives of humble service preach the Good News to the poor,
When troubled minds or bodies find a welcome at our door,
When healing hearts and hands lift the lowly from the dust,
Then ring the bells and sing Noels: for Christ is born in us.

 

Making a Change for the Better

Original Complete Version

By Christine Leonard-Osterwalder

This Christmas was going to be different. Especially after last year, when my children were totally wild, surrounded by mounds of paper and gifts from family and friends. After all those presents, they were still asking for more and couldn't appreciate anything, much less remember to say thank you. Shocked at their behavior and exhausted by all the preparation, my mother had become angry with me and had even asked for some of the Christmas gifts back. It was late and we were all tired, but it was an especially sad ending to one of the most meaningful holidays of the year.

I'd wanted to change Christmas for the past six years but had never really figured out how. But this year, I was determined to do it. I wanted more meaning and less rush; more time with my children, now 9 and 4, and much less emphasis on presents. In fact, it seemed that my whole focus during Christmas was basically searching for, buying, and wrapping presents, something that easily happens in a large, extended family, which included grown step-children, spouses and three grandchildren. I also didn't want the emptiness after all the presents were unwrapped. It was the anticipation of Christmas that I enjoyed, the excitement my children have in decorating the house, the fun times together baking cookies, and the time spent together reading Christmas and advent stories. What I wanted was the joy of Christ's birth without the Christmas "clutter." And I wanted to share that joy with others.

I suggested to my pastor that we hold an alternative Christmas workshop at our church, since there might be others who felt like me. He was very enthusiastic, offered to help on the committee, and even offered to pay for an ad in the local paper to support our publicity efforts. We set a date in early November. To prepare for the workshop, I purchased and read several thought-provoking resources from Alternatives for Simple Living. Alternatives also loaned me additional books and videos for the workshop.

As I worked through the materials, I talked with my husband about Christmas. We shared our expectations, frustrations and dreams. I told him that my greatest wish was to eliminate gifts entirely from Christmas, even though both of us love giving presents. My husband, always open to new ideas, was willing to consider the concept. As we talked, we realized that we saw Christmas as a birthday party for Jesus. And if it were really His birthday, then it seemed right that we should give Him the gifts, not each other. But what kind of gifts would we give to Jesus?

Matthew 25:36-37 & 40 gave us the answers: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " That was it then---we would give to those who really needed.

But how would we explain this concept to the children? Weren't we being cruel and inhumane parents? What parents would deny their children gifts? What about the story of Santa Claus? Why wouldn't he come? Would our children worry that they were somehow bad or less valuable? As we struggled with the many questions, the answers proved easier than we had initially thought.

My husband, who was one of the guest speakers at our workshop, researched the history of Santa Claus. While Santa Claus is a fictitious creation used to sell toys and promote commercialism, he is based on St. Nicholas, a bishop who lived in Myra, now in southern Turkey. The bishop had a double-blind system of helping the poor: he asked for gifts from the rich and gave to the poor but both parties were always kept anonymous. The Dutch called St. Nicholas "Santa Claus," so the commercial creation was actually rooted in fact. Santa Claus does exist---as the spirit of St. Nicholas that never dies.

We sat down and talked with our children. To start, we asked them what Christmas was all about. The first thing that they said was "Presents!"---embarrassing proof that we needed to make some changes! They did come up with the fact that it was Jesus' birthday, but that was after several responses. We explained who Santa really was and that he lives today as a spirit. We also explained that if St. Nicholas came to visit us today, he would probably be asking for our help, not bringing us gifts. We explained that this year, we would make some changes in the way we celebrated Christmas. One change would be that we would not receive gifts, rather we would give them to those who really needed them. Another change was that we would spend time reading each evening to prepare for advent and Christmas. Our third change was that we would seek to extend Christmas, both before and after the actual holiday. We explained that our children would still get birthday gifts and "just because" gifts. We explained that we would still decorate and bake. While not overly enthusiastic, our children were willing to try the new concept.

Next to our children, our other great concern was our extended family and friends. How would we explain this new way of celebrating Christmas without gifts? How could we avoid getting gifts to start with? We decided to write everyone a letter, which we personalized for each recipient (please see sample at the end of this article).

The letter had an interesting response. Some people were very disappointed when they received it because for them, one of their greatest Christmas joys was seeing our children open presents. As a result, these adults felt that they had lost some of their Christmas joy. We countered that by explaining that the joy was in being together, not in things. While all of the adults publicly agreed to support our decision, there was still some subterfuge. Several people suggested that we just simplify our gift-giving, rather than eliminate it totally. Another suggestion was that we give gifts on another day rather than Christmas. There were also hints that we were being cruel parents in denying our children gifts. Our children were continually asked whether they would be disappointed when there were no gifts under the tree. We countered the negative by encouraging our children to share the experiences they were having in giving to those in need. This also encouraged some of the nay-sayers to share about some of the community service work they were doing---which was exciting, since we'd never really talked about that before. And as a special blessing, my husband's grown daughter shared the letter with several friends, where it was welcomed and discussed. One of those friends even used the letter in part of a worship service in her church. It was especially rewarding to see our letter being shared with others as they considered many of the same issues.

How did all of our changes work? Overall, very well. At school, our children did not participate in any gift exchanges or visits from Santa, which also included handing out gifts. I had a greater awareness of what it must be like to be a minority, as I realized that while many of us may be Christians, we do not all celebrate Christmas the same way. Not participating in gift-giving is swimming upstream, going against a vast, torrential current. It can also be alienating, because explaining our concept of Christmas forces people to examine their own understanding of Jesus' birth and what Christmas is all about. Sometimes, that is uncomfortable for people. But as Christians, Jesus asks us to change and move forward---wherever we are in our walk of faith.

We explained our new concept of Christmas to each teacher and all three listened carefully. I also think that next year, they will probably make some changes in the way they plan Christmas parties in order not to keep children like our daughter, who would not be participating in gift-giving, from attending. One of my daughter's preschool teachers especially supported our decision. She explained that her own parents had just come back from a brief missionary trip to the Philippines and now also recommended that their children and grandchildren not give gifts because we all have so much and others in the world have so little.

Speaking of teachers, we normally give our children's teachers small Christmas gifts. This year, we gave them Thanksgiving gifts, with little notes explaining that each is a blessing to us.

On Christmas day itself, there were two colorful shoeboxes under the Christmas tree, which we had decorated together as a family. To conserve paper and in recognition of the environment, we glued the paper on the outside of the boxes so that the boxes can be opened and reused each year. Inside one box was a letter to Jesus. Inside the other was a letter to Santa (please see letters at the end of this article). My husband and I had written the letters together. We read them as a family on Christmas morning. Santa had also written back, saying that he really appreciated the help from the children.

Also under the tree were some unexpected gifts from someone who doesn't normally give us gifts and had therefore not been sent one of our Christmas celebration letters. We opened the gifts anyway and while the children really enjoyed them, they also asked if there were any more. As we experience daily, wanting more is certainly a part of the human condition, a continual battle, and an ongoing opportunity to strengthen our relationship with God.

We did have some little surprises in the stockings: oranges, nuts, gum, candy bars, and some Pokemon postcards. Santa left those tokens in thanks for each person's support in changing how we celebrate Christmas. To be honest, I must admit that I am still not quite sure about this rationale for the stockings. A more permanent answer will take greater thought and prayer, but this is what we did with our stockings this year.

Our primary Christmas festivities were spread out over three days. On the 24th, we visited with my sisters and our parents at my parents' home. On the 25th we had the whole day just for our immediate family, which was then shared with our church family through a worship service and potluck dinner. On the 26th, we visited my husband's parents at their home.

For the first time ever, the Christmas with my parents was incredibly relaxed. We had plenty of time to go to a worship service, look at Christmas lights, eat, talk and even sing Christmas carols---things we had never had time to do before because we had always been too occupied with presents. Everyone was excited and happy just being together. Our children were disappointed when there were no gifts for them under the tree and my mom tried in vain at the last minute to get us to agree to let them have "a little something." But for the most part, everyone supported the changes beautifully and continually commented on what a pleasant Christmas it had been.

On the 25th, we enjoyed just being together with our immediate family and not going anywhere, since all of our extended families live at least an hour away. It was very relaxing to spread out the celebration this way. In the late afternoon, we cooked and went to church and had a very enjoyable evening with our church family.

On the 26th, we had a very relaxed visit with my husband's family. Visits there are very casual anyway, so this was not unusual, but it was nice again, not be rushed, going from place to place. The only negative moment was when my mother-in-law gave out a few small Christmas gifts, saying "It just wouldn't seem like Christmas without a little something." My parents-in-law are very thoughtful people and almost always have little gifts for the children whenever we visit, so gifts in themselves were not unusual. It was only the wrapping and the specific intent which made the gifts an issue. We accepted the gifts but explained that we all needed to support the celebration changes in the future. My mother-in-law understood and agreed.

When people ask adults "How was your Christmas?" they generally want to know if the holiday was a pleasant experience. But for children, the specific words may be different. "Did you get all you wanted for Christmas?" or "What did you get for Christmas?" At age 4, my daughter sighs and sadly comments, "Nothing." But after a moment, she explains that this year, we were Jesus' and Santa's helpers by giving to those who needed help. My son, age 9, chimes right in, saying "Most people don't ever think of Jesus at Christmas. I never really thought about Him before we started this. I used to just think about presents."

As we look ahead, we realize that we need to hang up our letters to Jesus and Santa in an obvious place to remind us of our commitments and our plan to celebrate Christmas all year long. While material gifts are important, I'd like to emphasize gifts of time because they have greater potential for changing us, as well as helping others. Also, when we choose gifts or activities at Christmas time, I'd also like to include everyone in the family more. Sometimes that's not possible because of schedules, but it would have been nice if my son and husband had been able to experience more of the special moments that my daughter and I had. I'd also like us to be more faithful in our advent readings.

At the end of our alternative workshop, I handed out acorns from wild oak trees and explained that this workshop and the idea of changing Christmas celebrations were like these acorns. The wind had blown them all over and no one had known where they would go. Just like these acorns, the ideas and concepts that we had discussed could take root in our own lives or perhaps those of others. Depending on the growing conditions, these acorns and ideas could grow at different rates and in different ways, until one day, they became big, beautiful oak trees, just like those in our area. Each year, the trees would build on the growth that had occurred before. In the same way, our Christmas celebrations can change each year to honor Jesus more and more. As the Apostle Peter urges us in 2 Peter 3:18, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."

 

Letter to Extended Family & Friends (sample)

Dear Mom & Dad,

Christmas is my favorite holiday because it contains so much meaning and can be so much fun. I also love all of the dreaming and imagination that goes along with it. And as you know, I still love being a kid. I love the good news Christmas conveys about the birth of Jesus and the hope that this marvelous event brings to the world. It helps me appreciate all the blessings that have been given to me. And it helps me realize there are so many less fortunate people in the world.

One thing I have perpetuated or supported during Christmas over the years is commercialism, or the buying of gifts. No matter where you go, what you watch, what you listen to, or what you read, there is a never-ending list of things you should buy as gifts for that "special someone." It is this aspect of Christmas that I no longer like or want to support.

We can meet a person's needs, but we can never satisfy a person's wants, because wants never end. Christmas has become a time of wanting rather than giving to meet one's needs. And if any holiday were ever more symbolic of giving to meet one's needs, it is Christmas. The three wise men came and bore gifts to Jesus, and I'm sure his parents used them to meet the needs of their family. The wise men returned home without anything tangible in exchange, but rich in fulfilled dreams and thankful to be participants in a great mystery. Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth. Since He is the birthday child, I want to give my gifts to him, not to the other partygoers.

So I asked myself, how do I give gifts to Jesus who is not physically among us, is no longer a child, and who has everything already? I think the answer comes from Matthew 25:36-37 & 40:

For when I was hungry, you gave me food; when thirsty, you gave me drink; when I was a stranger you took me into your home, when naked you clothed me, when I was ill you came to my help, when in prison you visited me. I tell you this, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.

About 1,400 years ago, there was a pastor of a church in Myra, a city in the south of modern-day Turkey. Pastor Nicholas was very concerned about the needs of his community and devised a way to meet those needs, developing a double-blind system of helping the less fortunate. He would call upon the well to do and asked for those things needed by others. The giver never knew whom the gift was going to, and the receiver never knew whom the gift came from. This pastor later became the patron saint of all of Russia, thieves, as well as boys and girls. The Dutch gave Saint Nicholas the name Santa Claus. And to this day, we see Santa as a gift-giver to boys and girls all over the world. Unfortunately though, Santa Claus has also become the patron saint of commercialism, and a means to award children for good or bad behavior. In poor families, Christmas is a cruel hoax. Since Santa comes only to the rich, not the poor, or brings less to the poor than to other families, poor children often feel that they are somehow bad or not as important.

When Saint Nicholas called upon homes with abundance, he left with a gift for someone that was in need. If Saint Nicholas were to visit me in my household today, he would not be bearing me gifts. Instead, he would be asking for my help. My household has truly been blessed and we live in abundance. This year, when Santa comes, there will be only two presents under the tree, both for Jesus: one to stay and one to go. Instead of Santa bringing us gifts, he will leave our home with a gift for someone else.

The "present to go" is our gift to those who are in need of help. This year, we plan to make special Christmas donations to a variety of charities. While we are working on this right now, we will probably give a local family clothes, winter jackets, food, or electricity. We may provide gifts to children whose parents are in prison and cannot buy them anything. We will probably contribute to the Mary Magdalene Project through our Presbytery, which helps prostitutes get off of the street and rebuild their lives. We will probably also give goats or water wells to people in Third World Nations through the Heifer Project or Church World Service.

The "present to stay" is our gift to those who need our time, love, attention, labor, and support. This gift contains our commitments not for just one day of celebration or even for the twelve days of Christmas, but for the entire coming year where needs are always present. We are working on choosing projects right now. It may be visits to children who are cancer victims at local hospital. It may be baby-sitting coupons for a neighbor who really needs some time off. Or regular "small home repair" visits for a divorced mom who isn't handy herself. It may be helping at a local thrift shop that benefits Habitat for Humanity. There are many, many choices.

We do not expect you to change how you celebrate your Christmas. But we would appreciate your help in not giving us gifts and in supporting our desire to refocus our Christmas. There are lots of opportunities to give each other gifts on birthdays, other holidays, and "just because" days. If you have already bought us Christmas gifts, please use them at another time. We look forward to giving you gifts on your birthdays and on other "just because" occasions as well.

Our family will emphasize the following changes:

  • To celebrate Jesus' birth by bearing him gifts without receiving any for ourselves

  • To restore the legacy of Saint Nicholas as God's servant in meeting people's needs and remind us that we, too, can perform that role throughout the year

  • To make Christmas a fun and relaxed time to be with family and friends

  • To celebrate Christmas over a twelve-day period instead of on just one or two days.

We want to close by saying that at our house, there will still be Christmas lights, a decorated tree with a train beneath it, stockings over the fireplace, a chance to catch Santa Claus picking up Jesus' gift, and four kids of all ages rejoicing in the Christmas spirit.

Love, Scott, Chris, Alex & Cara

 

Letter to Jesus for "Gift to Stay" (emphasizing gifts of time which were to be given year-round)

24 December 1999

Dear Jesus,

This year we are trying to recapture the meaning of Christmas and celebrate your birth.

We know that the best gift we can give to you is to give freely to someone less fortunate. We gave to your servant Saint Nicolas some of our physical gifts. We want to give more of ourselves by doing the following:

  • Start a monthly Friday-Fix-it for anyone in need

  • Adopt a family in need

  • Volunteer at the Hope food pantry once a quarter

  • Commit 2% of our total income to the general church offering

  • Commit 2% of our total income to other charities

  • Help Crossroads and Everyone's Theatre Company to grow (church mission projects)

  • Help church incorporate a social justice plan and ongoing education

  • Develop family home activities for spiritual growth

Happy Birthday Jesus,

Alex, Cara, Mom & Dad

 

Letter to Santa for "Gift to Go" (emphasizing material gifts which were to be given the needy)

Dec. 24, 1999

Dear Santa,

We are glad to be your helpers this year by not giving to each other when we have so much, and only giving to people that need food, clothing, shelter, warm blankets and toys.

Here is a list of things we have done so far, and what remains in our "gift to go".

  • We bought shampoo, conditioner, lotion, blistex, and socks for three women at the Rainbow Fire Conservation Camp. Stuffed the gift bags and made cards for each woman.

  • "Adopted" two 3- yr- old Angel tree children (foster boy and girl, county of Riverside) who came from abused homes. Each child received a snuggly blanket, stuffed leopard and a book about God and his love for them

  • We gave Heather, our hairdresser, extra money since she had been unable to work for three weeks while in the hospital for a collapsed lung

  • Conducted an alternative Christmas workshop to help us and others rediscover the real meaning of Christmas

  • Participated in the Deacon's toy drive & donated books and flash cards to two children

In box:

  • A decorated clothes pin from Cara

  • A donation to New Jersey Make A Wish Foundation in memory of Emmett Francis

  • A pledge to give a stuffed animal every month to a child in the hospital

  • A donation to the Candle Lighters (a children's hospital service group) in honor of Carlynn (our pastor's daughter who spent the last year battling bone cancer)

  • A pledge to give toys needing a home to women's shelters and foster homes

  • A pledge to give money to each panhandler that crosses our path

Merry Christmas Santa,

Alex, Cara, Mom & Dad

 

Poems, parodies, humor, short items

When you copy any of the following, pleae credit the author (source) and "Alternatives for Simple Living: call 800-821-6153 for a free catalog of ideas for simpler living. Or visit www.SimpleLiving.org."

Let There Be Stuff for Christmas

(Sung to "Let There be Peace on Earth")

Let there be stuff for Christmas,
And let it pile up around me.
Let there be stuff for Christmas --
Our stuff it was meant to be!
With cash and with credit,
Catalogs and stores,
Let us buy what we long for --
Let us buy more and more!

Let there be stuff for Christmas,
Presents for you and me!
Let there be stuff for Christmas,
Stuff really fills us with glee!
Who wants something simple?
Or living spiritually?
Let us get more and more stuff:
The focus is me, me, me, me!

To shop each moment --
And buy each moment --
And acquire eternally.
Let there be stuff for Christmas
As long as there's lots for me!

(I was inspired to write this version in part by the store decorations which have been up in our area since October. -- Jackie Stein)

 

[The following compliments the service "Remembering the Holy Innocents."]

 

SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE..

She slept sweetly as she was passed from one pair of waiting arms to another--this tiny girl-child who had been in the world less than a month. The young women, students from a local high school, oohed and aahed; many of them said they had never seen a baby so young. The baby was a guest at the Christmas party given for homeless women and children who were living temporarily at one of the welfare hotels in the area; the hosts and hostesses had earned money to give the party and helped cook, serve and pass out presents to the thirty-some guests. I couldn't help think of my own small granddaughter, just a few days older than this baby. Just about the same size, they lived in two different worlds--less than fifty miles apart. Kate: born into a loving family with two parents, two brothers and a myriad of relatives willing to nurture her as she grows, Kelly: born to a single mother with a sister about three years older, living in temporary quarters, with strangers. What would the future hold for her? Will her mother find a permanent place to live; will she grow up healthy and happy and receive an education that will enable her to earn wages to support her own family? Will she remain on the welfare rolls, wandering from place to place, with babies of her own?

I thought of another Baby, born so many years ago. Poor people, whose child was born in the stable where they had to stay, since they could find no other room. A young couple with little money; who would travel far and wide before returning to their home town and their families. A struggling family, dependent upon others for their food and lodging. This Babe, who grew "in favor with God and man", traveling far and wide with a band of men who taught people to love one another and love their neighbors as themselves.

I thought of the other babies who have been born this year, including Matthew, Benjamin, Veronica, Joel, and all the others who begin life in the same way, as helpless, beautiful, promises of the future. Will this be the generation to bring hunger and homelessness to an end, or even a decline? Will one of these be the one to discover a cure for a terrible disease or find a way to bring harmony to our world? How many of the children born this year are destined to become homeless, poverty stricken, helpless? We pray that these children will all know love and happiness. The chances are that I will not see Kelly again. But each year, I know I will think of her and wonder where she is and what is happening in her life. I hope she is one of the lucky ones.

R. Sinniger, Christmas Eve, 1993 [Rosemary Sinniger, Pennington NJ]

 

Santa Hood Is Coming to Town

[In the spirit of Robin Hood, sung to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."]

(Chorus)...

Oh, you better not shop
You better not buy.
Better not consume,
I'm telling you why...
Santa Hood is coming to town!

He's making a list,
Wants to be sure.
Gonna find out
Who's rich and who's poor.
Santa Hood is coming to town!

(Verses)...

He knows if you've been shopping.
He knows if you recycle.
He knows if you drive in a car
Or if you bi-cycle.

He sees you if you're wealthy.
And have more than enough
He'll sneak into your house at night
And take all your stuff.

He sees you watch commercials
And get programmed by TV
To think that you must have it all
Underneath your tree.

If you're feeling confused
And don't know where to begin,
Do not listen to Mr. Claus,
Santa's evil twin!

(Chorus variation)...

Oh, you better not shop,
Better not buy,
Better not consume.
I'm telling you why.
Santa Hood is coming to town.

He's making a list,
Wants to know what you're worth.
Whether you love
Or devour the Earth.
Santa Hood is coming to town!

--Brad Boe, St. Joseph, MO

We enjoy singing it at Christmas time and thought you might too.

 

A Green Christmas

with regrets to Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through my home, Efficiency reigned, thanks to our geodesic dome.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Warmed by the ceiling fan over their heads.
Cozy in PJs, a night shirt or gown, We saved money by turning the thermostat down.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the thermopaned windows I flew,
And pushed open lined curtains to have me a view.

There in the yard near our new trees
A low emissions vehicle powered by solar batteries!
The driver was hoping by all to be seen,
Since he'd gotten new clothes, all warm and bright green.

He jumped to our porch and through the front door he slipped,
Delivering the gifts he'd been making or shipped.
And if by sheer magic and out of the vapor,
Came presents now wrapped in bits of newspaper.
For Sally a doll and for Jimmy new socks,
Each wrapped with old ribbon and in a used box.
A scarf for dear Mary and a hat for old Rodge,
Now they could walk and not take the Dodge.

With a job well done he got back on his bike
Ready to travel or just take a hike.
But just before leaving he stopped and did tell,
"Use Less Stuff at Christmas and all will be well."

Have a happy and resourceful holiday season!

Adapted from "The ULS Report," A BI-MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF PARTNERS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS, PO. Box 130116 o Ann Arbor, Ml 48113 Tel. 734-668-1690 o FAX 734-930-0506 Internet www.cygnus-group.com; E-mail: [email protected] group.com; The ULS Report costs $6 annually. Please send payment to the address above.

©1999 Partners for Environmental Progress. All rights reserved. We encourage you to reuse and recycle our information. Since The ULS Report, Use less Stuff; Reduction roundup and ULS logo are trademarks of Partners for Environmental Progress, please contact us prior to reprinting.

 

The Magic's In You

['Twas the Night Before Christmas]

The Holidays were approaching
My blood pressure was up.
No one was happy,
Not even the pup.

I felt pressured and frantic;
Had not started the baking.
Worst of all was the state
Of the things I was making.

I need gifts by the dozen
To find, wrap and label.
That doesn't included mailings
Or decorating or table.

My breathing got rapid,
My pulse started pounding;
I stopped for a minute,
A small voice was sounding.

"Be aware of your needs,
Start to feel all your feelings;
Nurture yourself and eat well,
You need balance for healing."

"Accept what is Present,
Let go of the Past;
You're important as well,
Don't put yourself last."

Look over your duties,
Keep what's important to you;
Tamper with traditions
In the celebrating you do.

Look carefully with Love,
Gratitude's a must.
If you look at what's missing,
Then your attitude - adjust.

Reach out to others,
Be supportive and kind.
The Peace in your Soul
Will bring Peace of Mind.

Use your Heart as a guide,
And just stop to listen.
Awake, Breathe, Create,
The Magic will glisten.

Love's not in the package,
The lights or the toy,
It's in Peace and in Kindness,
Smile - You'll find JOY!

 

Happy Holidays! Wishing you Peace, Love and Joy, Lynn Durham

© 1997 All rights reserved. Lynn Durham, writer, speaker, well being coach. Programs on Stress Hardiness, Relaxation, Optimism and JOY in the journey. If you have a story, poem, or idea about a heartwarming tale or creative way to celebrate the holidays etc., please send to Lynn for possible inclusion in her book - Holiday Magic, Being Santa Claus for Yourself and JOY to Your World.

Lynn Durham, RN, Call for a mind body spirit program on stress hardiness, relaxation or joy.

399 High Street, Hampton, NH 03842, USA 603-926-9700 www.lynndurham.com

Lynn Durham, RN, monthly columnist, author, well being coach, blends the knowledge of a former professor of nursing education with the wisdom gained at the Harvard Deaconess Mind Body Medical Institute and mixes it with her own brand of light-hearted optimism and joy. Lynn writes and speaks for people who want to release anger, anxiety and anguish, those who want to cherish and celebrate Life. Corporate audiences, associations, schools and individuals have gained the insights to choose the best strategies and tools to improve the quality of their personal and professional lives.

 

"The No Bad News Blues"

by Lindsay Louise Biddle
(with apologies to Clement Moore)

'Twas the night before Christmas Eve services
when all through the city
every creature seemed anxious
hurrying to get ready.

The bulletins were printed,
the sermon prepared,
in hopes that parishioners
would all feel God cared

My dogs Mallori and Shadow
were wrestling on the bed
while visions of leftovers
danced through their heads.

And I in my long johns
with a selection of videos
had just settled down
when I heard on the radio:

"Sales for the season
are less than expected
so more retail jobs
are to be eliminated.

"Meanwhile CEOs' salaries
are rising again
as rewards for increasing
their stock dividends. "

Well, trying to watch
"It's a Wonderful Life"
I started to feel
lots of guilt and some strife.

Were my homemade gifts
and attempts at simple living
really responsible
for the economy dwindling?

Did the fact I didn't buy
from catalogs or malls
contribute significantly
to millions' downfalls?

Would the season's reason
not be completed
'til end-of-year figures
had been calculated?

Where's the good news of
great joy for all people
amid the bad news
that makes everyone fearful?

When what to my wandering
mind should appear
but alternative newscasts
that I'd like to hear:

"Corporations began tithing
their before- fax profits
and gave every worker
a bonus and chocolates.

"The Salvation Army's had
no robberies this year,
and the Union Gospel Mission
is swamped with volunteers.

"Congregations of all brands,
pooling their resources,
have so much to give
they can offer folks choices.

"Soup kitchens gladly
are doubling their recipes
as haves and have-nots
come together to eat.

"In other news, it's noted
throughout the whole land
folks sharing holiday meals
with those outside their clan.

"Clothing closets are getting
space and donations
from major department stores
across the nation.

"Each state's national guard has been
called up for duty
distributing toys for children --
there's so much booty!

"Meanwhile Wall Street reported
very sharp declines
in the sales of cigarettes,
liquor, beer, and wine.

"Also down are purchases
of guns both real and toy'
while children's books are in demand
by every girl and boy.

"Depression is down,
contributions are rising,
the drop in domestic violence
and drunk driving's surprising.

"Hospitals, fire and
police stations are quiet,
but temples and churches
are so packed -- clergy riot.

"With folks of all creeds letting
go and relaxing
the holidays are proving to
be not so taxing.

"And since no one's noticing
me broadcast this news
I'll just go on home crying
'The No Bad News Blues!'"

Rev. Lindsay Louis Biddle, Minneapolis, MN

 

Christmas Ever Over, Ever After

December 26, Christmas is here.
Twinkling tree lights, Santa appeared.
Stockings that were on the fireplace hung
Now piled in puddles their contents out-wrung

But Christmas' not over, don't pack stuff away.
Though Santa is gone and carol tapes fade,
the babe's in the manger, the stars in the sky,
the wise folk are coming with gifts deemed most high.

So sweep aside giftwrap all crumpled and torn,
Remember to honor the Christ child born.
The star started gleaming when the babe arrived.
The kings came from far off from their other lives.

So when the church long ago settled a date,
They noted a second, for kings arrived late,
Creating a season a couple weeks long
That is the reason I've given this song.

While Santa and Commerce have taken one day,
We still have 10 others to ponder the way
And finally the twelfth night to give one a gift
Twill signify heaven and give them a lift.

Christ's baby birth date,
The reason we celebrate,
Should happen everyday!
Share with folk. Show the way.

Each one's epiphany, Christ new within,
As wise folk are witnessing new life begin.
But don't stop there, carry on, living each day
To share the truth, live the light, show each the way.

Wishing you all a new year 2000 years in the making. Mary and I will be exchanging our gifts to each other on January 6, and we invite you to explore "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" and other opportunities for Christian living in today's world at www.SimpleLiving.org with love and peace. Ken and Mary Wells, Sioux City, IA

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Collections of Christmas Carols & Poetry
Compiled and Edited by
Douglas D. Anderson

Victorian Visions
A Christmas Poetry Collection

Divinely Inspired
A Christmas Poetry Collection

The Bridegroom Cometh
Poetry For The Advent

Other books by Doug Anderson

Once A Lovely Shining Star

A Christmas Poetry Collection

So Gracious Is The Time

A Christmas Poetry Collection

How Still The Night

The Christmas Poems of Father Andrew, S.D.C.

 Father and Daughter

Christmas Poems by Frances and William Havergal

Now, Now The Mirth Comes

Christmas Poetry by Robert Herrick

What Sudden Blaze Of Song

The Christmas Poems of Rev. John Keble

 A Holy Heavenly Chime

The Christmastide Poems of Christina Georgina Rossetti

All My Heart This Night Rejoices

The Christmas Poems of Catherine Winkworth

A Victorian Carol Book

Favorites from the 19th Century —
Still favorites today!

Other Books by Doug Anderson

A Psalter – A Book of the Psalms Arranged by Luther's Categories

Betbüchlein: A Personal Prayer Book, a recreation of Luther's 1529 prayer book

Daily Prayer

Luther's Passional

Luther's Writings on Prayer: A Selection

Devotions for the Advent – 2009
A new edition for 2010 is being prepared.

The Lenten Sermons of Martin Luther, Second Edition

Descriptions of all these volumes can be seen at
Books by Doug Anderson


Christmas is a wonderful, cheerful holiday.  Whether we spend it by a real tree or some Balsam Hill artificial Christmas trees, at the end of the day what matters is that we enjoy our time together with our loved ones. 


The Hymns and Carols of Christmas
Douglas D. Anderson

© Copyright 1996, All Rights Reserved.

The Hymns and Carols of Christmas is not responsible for the content of external sites.

 

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