Devotional – December 19, 2020

Carolyn Wood’s Devotional

Yes, “Sing to the Lord a new song”, but don’t forget the old ones either. I personally love the newer arrangements of the old hymns or the new hymns that keep running from the pens of modern day poets and songwriters. The Getty’s and Matt Boswell are particular favorites of mine who spring from an Irish tradition of songsters. As you listen to “Sing We the Song of Emmanuel” written by Matt Boswell, imagine yourself sitting in that audience at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee, singing along with this “new song” and praising with the angels Emmanuel, God with us!

I don’t know about you, but perhaps the closeness of Christ has come to me so many times while singing in community with other believers. Over the years I have heard many proclaim that they cannot sing. My response has always been and will forever be: We are told to make a joyful NOISE! Let’s raise our voices together and praise Him with the voices we have. Join me in making a Joyful Noise! Healing for the soul will reach inside you as you sing G – l – o – r – i-a! The words are provided here

Sing we the song of Emmanuel

This the Christ who was long foretold

Lo in the shadows of Bethlehem

Promise of dawn now our eyes behold.

God Most High in a manger laid

Lift your voices and now proclaim

Great and glorious, Love has come to us

Join now with the hosts of heaven

Come we to welcome Emmanuel

King who came with no crown or throne

Helpless He lay, the Invincible

Maker of Mary, now Mary’s son

O what wisdom to save us all

Shepherds, sages, before Him fall

Grace and majesty, what humility

Come on bended knee, adore Him

Go spread the news of Emmanuel

Joy and peace for the weary heart

Lift up your heads, for your King has come

Sing for the Light overwhelms the dark

Glory shining for all to see

Hope alive, let the gospel ring

God has made a way, He will have the praise

Tell the world His name is Jesus

Sing We the Song of Emmanuel:


Praise the LORD! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints. Psalm 149:1

For a long time, Josiah Gilbert Holland was known to his friends as a failure at just about everything he tried. Dropping out of high school, he tried his hand at photography, then calligraphy. When those professions didn’t pan out, Josiah, twenty-one, enrolled in Berkshire Medical College. After graduation, he practiced medicine in Springfield, Massachusetts for a while before quitting to start a newspaper. The paper folded after six months. At length, he joined the editorial staff of another newspaper, The Springfield Republican, and there he finally found his niche in writing.

In 1865, the world was stunned by the tragic assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The next year, it was Josiah Holland who published the first major biography of Lincoln. In it, he presented Lincoln as a “true-hearted Christian” and provided a number of stories to reinforce the point. When Lincoln’s free-thinking law partner, William Herndon, read the book, he refuted it. Lincoln was an “infidel,” declared Herndon, and he died as an “unbeliever.” To this day, historians argue about Lincoln’s religious faith, or lack of it. But the notoriety put Josiah Holland on the literary map of his day.

In 1870, he became a founder and the senior editor of Scribner’s Magazine. He continued publishing books and was quite prolific. In 1872, he published The Marble Prophecy and Other Poems. In it were the four stanzas of “There’s a Song in the Air.” It was an unusual poem, in that the first four lines of each stanza contained six syllables each, but the fifth and sixth lines were twice as long. Two years later, it was set to music in a collection of Sunday school songs, but didn’t achieve widespread popularity.

Several years after Josiah’s death in 1881, a Latin professor named Karl Pomeroy Harrington read “There’s a Song in the Air.” Harrington was an amateur musician who had begun writing melodies as a youngster on the small organ in his childhood home. Harrington later inherited that old Estey organ and moved it to his vacation cottage in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. While spending the summer there in 1904, he sat down at the old instrument, pumping the bellows with the foot pedals, and hammered out the lovely melodic tune to which “There’s a Song in the Air” is now widely sung.

As I listened to the Bennet Sisters sing this well-known Christmas hymn I could just imagine Harrington pumping away on that old organ as the melody that has uplifted our hearts every Christmas for so long poured out. May your Christmas this year be a time to reflect on all the people who have made your life what it is today. Think and remember those whose influence helped to shape and mold your personality, your sense of self, or responsibility. I ask you to bring especially forward those who opened your hearts and minds to faith in the Christ whose birth we celebrate still. May these memories bring your comfort; may they bring your joy; may they bring you hope for the future as we let Him in once more!

“Ay! We shout to the lovely Evangel they bring, As we greet in His cradle our Saviour and King”

The Bennett Sisters: