>Christmas Prayers from Sudan

>I have been struck in the recent days about the cultural context of so many of our Christmas songs. I’m dreaming of a White Christmas and Silver Bells seem humorously out of place in a mud thatch metropolis teetering on the brink of war. But as I have been listening to many of the lesser remembered verses of more historical Christmas carols (and a few recent ones) this season they seem so much closer to home here. In preparation for Christmas Eve and in celebration of our Jesus, I wanted to share with you a few verses that have captured my heart in days like these. I improvised a few of the words…. but only a few.

May you be blessed as you are drawn into the Christmas story all year long. A time of carrying promises from heaven to full term, that Jesus may be again born, incarnate through our lives of love in the situations around us. These verses just seem to fit well where we are at….

O little town of Yei Sudan:
How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Be met in thee tonight.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him,
still The dear Christ enters in.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
——
Silent night, Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord at thy birth;
Jesus Lord at thy birth.

Hail! the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”

Still through the cloven skies they come,
Love’s banner all unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
Over all the weary world.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the Angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man at war with man hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O! hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the Angels sing.

Said the king to the people everywhere,
listen to what I say
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
listen to what I say
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

No more will sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He’ll come and make the blessings flow
Far as the curse was found,
Far as the curse was found,
Far as, far as the curse was found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And gives to nations proof
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Truly He taught us
to love one another;
His law is love and
His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break
for the slave is our brother
And in His name
all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in
grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us
praise His holy name!

Christ is the Lord,
Oh praise His name forever,
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim
His pow’r and glory
evermore proclaim.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.