Published by: Paraclete Press
O Come Emmanuel: A Musical Tour of Daily Readings for Advent and Christmas by Gordon Giles is a handy spiritual book for the holidays.
This handsome paperback of 165 pages contains a poem (drawn from familiar carols and seasonal music), a meditation and a prayer for each day from December 1 to January 6.
The book is of particular interest to musicians, since the author uses carol texts and classic choral music of the season to spur one's meditation on the great gift of the Incarnation.
The wonderful miracle is played out gradually from the beginnings of Advent through Twelfth Night (Epiphany) in 37 daily spiritual readings.
Some of the classic music which Gordon Giles uses as a starting point in his meditations includes the following:
- Christus vincit (Sarum chant)
- Lo! he comes with clouds descending (Charles Wesley)
- This Is the Record of John (Orlando Gibbons)
- Little Lamb (John Taverner)
- Ave Maria (various composers)
- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (Felix Mendelssohn)
- The Childhood of Christ (Hector Berlioz)
- The Christmas Oratorio (J.S. Bach)
- The Twelve Days of Christmas (traditional)
Here's an excerpt, from the meditation for December 6 [Memorial of Saint Nicholas]
1. God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
6. Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
Every child has heard of Santa Claus, and knows exactly what he does!
But not everyone knows the truth behind the legends of the saintly man who was Bishop of Myra in the early fourth century.
The English composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) took the story of the life of Saint Nicholas and made it into a choral work in 1948.
In that work, there are congregational hymns too, and God moves in a mysterious way [the 6-verse poem for the day] comes at the very end, as everyone joins together to praise God for his many gifts in creation.
And of course, one of the great gifts that God gives us are the saints, those men and women of courage, conviction, and faith who inspire, lead, and teach us, long after they have died.
By the sixth century, Nicholas had aroused a certain following, and in the ninth century ...
Prayer O God, the Father of Christmas, and of all times, send us your Holy Spirit, that we may be brought the gifts of love, joy, and peace that you desire for your children in this and every age, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Order #: 9120