What star is this with beams so bright?

What star is this, with beams so bright,
more beauteous than the noonday light?
It shines to herald forth the King,
and Gentiles to his crib to bring.

True spake the prophet from afar
who told the rise of Jacob’s star;
and eastern sages with amaze
upon the wondrous token gaze.

The guiding star above is bright;
within them shines a clearer light,
and leads them on with power benign
to seek the Giver of the sign.

To God the Father, heavenly Light,
to Christ, revealed in earthly night,
to God the Holy Ghost we raise
our equal and unceasing praise.

–Words: Charles Coffin, 1736; trans. John Chandler, 1837, alt.
–Tune: PUER NOBIS (15th century)

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Go tell it on the mountain

Refrain
Go, tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere;
go, tell it on the mountain,
that Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching
over silent flocks by night
behold throughout the heavens
there shone a holy light. Refrain

The shepherds feared and trembled,
when lo! above the earth,
rang out the angels chorus
that hailed the Savior’s birth. Refrain

[Down in a lowly manger
the humble Christ was born
and God sent us salvation
that blessèd Christmas morn. Refrain]

–Words: African-American spiritual, nineteenth century
–Tune: GO TELL IT (19th century African-American spiritual)

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Mary, did you know

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb!

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM.
The great I AM…

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In dulci jubilo

In dulci jubilo
Let us our homage shew:
Our heart’s joy reclineth
In praesepio;
And like a bright star shineth
Matris in gremio,
Alpha es et O!

O Jesu parvule,
I yearn for thee alway!
Hear me, I beseech Thee,
O puer optime;
My praying let it reach Thee,
O princeps gloriae.
Trahe me post te.

O patris caritas!
O Nati lenitas!
Deeply were we stained.
Per nostra crimina:
But Thou for us hast gained
Coelorum gaudia,
O that we were there!

Ubi sunt gaudia,
If that they be not there?
There are Angels singing
Nova cantica;
And there the bells are ringing
In Regis curia.
O that we were there!

–Fourteenth century German/Latin carol

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Tomorrow shall be my dancing day

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Chorus

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love.

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man’s nature
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Between an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard I from above,
To call my true love to my dance.

Chorus

–Traditional English carol

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Oikan Ayns Bethlehem (The Babe in Bethlehem)

Nish lhisagh shin yn feailley shoh
Y reayll lesh creeaghyn glen
Ayns cooinaghtyn jeh Yeesey Chreest
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Daag Eh cooyrtn sollys E Ayr
Goaill er yn dooghys ain
Ruggit jeh Moidyn ghlen gyn chron
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Eisht ainleyn Niau ren boggey ghoaill
Haink lesh ny naightyn hooin
Ginsh jeh Saualtagh ruggiy jiu
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Nagh mooar yn insblid as y ghraih
V’ayns Yeesey Chreest yn Eayn
Tra ghow Eh er cummey Harvaant
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

Ard gloyr da Jee ‘syn yrjid heose
Ta reill ayns maynrys beayn
Aigney mie Yee nish soilhit dooin
Oikan ayns Bethlehem

English translation

Now ought we this festival
To keep with pure hearts
In memory of Jesus Christ
A babe in Bethlehem

He left the bright Courts of His Father
Taking on our human form
Born of the pure Virgin
A babe in Bethlehem

Then the angels of Heaven rejoiced
And came to us with the tidings
Telling of the Saviour born today
A babe in Bethlehem

How great the humility and the love
Which was in Jesus Christ the Lamb
When He took the form of His Servant
A babe in Bethlehem

Great glory to God in the highest
Who rules in eternal happiness
The mind of God is now made clear to us
A babe in Bethlehem

–Traditional Manx carol (from the Isle of Man)

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New Year’s Examen

Looking back over the year, with God.

If you have time today, why not do an annual “examen”? St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, encouraged us to do a daily “examen,” or “examination of conscience,” where we look back over the day to see where God has been active. It’s a way to help us notice, be grateful and experience the desire for change.

You can do it for a whole year too, and Dec. 31 is the perfect time. Here’s how. Give yourself some time, maybe 30 minutes or so. Or longer if it’s been an eventful year.

1.) Remember that you’re in God’s presence. That’s essential for any prayer. It’s not just you running through a list or talking to yourself. You’re doing it with God. Ignatius used to recommend actually looking at they physical place where you’ll be praying (a chair, on the floor, in a pew) and imagine God looking at you. It helps you to remember God is with you. Or you could simply invite God to be with you. God’s always with us, but it’s good to remind ourselves of that, especially when we pray.

2.) Call to mind what you’re grateful for. Think of all the wonderful things that happened to you this year. Take your time to do this. Savor them, like you’d savor a good meal. And give thanks to God for them. Even if you’ve had a bad year, call to mind what you’re grateful for. You may be surprised by how many wonderful events you’ve forgotten about. Know that these are God’s gifts to you.

3.) Review the year. Of course you can’t do this day by day, but perhaps go month by month. Or just do it by topic–family, friends, work, and so on. Cast your mind back over the year. Notice where God was present, where you said yes to God’s invitation to greater love. Where God loved you. Notice.

4.) Express your sorrow. Surely in the space of 365 days you’ve done some things you regret. Tell God you’re sorry. If you’ve really harmed someone, the last day of the year is a good time to seek forgiveness. Think about going to confession if you’re Catholic and conscious of grave sin. But don’t wallow in your sins: remember you’re human and we all make mistakes.

5.) Ask God for the grace to live 2017 as a good person. All of us have things that we’ll need God’s grace to face: health problems, financial problems, family problems, work problems. So ask God for help. Be specific about what you need. St. Ignatius often encouraged people to pray for what they want and need. Finally, ask for the grace to see God’s presence in the new year.

And throw in a prayer for me too. I need help too.

Happy New Year!

–Orginally posted on the Facebook page of Father James Martin, SJ. Click here to go to the original post on Facebook.

Sunset from Volunteer Park, Seattle, Washington -- December 20, 2016

Sunset from Volunteer Park, Seattle, Washington — December 20, 2016

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