Archives For History

 

The Story of Carols

A Meditation for the Advent and Christmas seasons
 
By Tim Dowley,

Author of 

Christian Music:
A Global History

Tim Dowley

Paperback: SPCK, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]

 

Christmas Music for Those
Who Don’t like Christmas Music

 

*** All The Holiday Music
You Will Ever Need!

Carols fall into that category of things that people either love or loathe. Many warm to their traditional imagery and annual memories of Christmases past; others do their utmost to avoid them, associating carols with sentimental words and mawkish music.

Carols are normally narrative, contemplative or celebratory in content, often with a simple, straightforward sentiment and in strophic form. Most of the surviving medieval carols were written for the professional cathedral singers of Europe. Among the oldest is ‘Puer natus in Bethlehem’ (‘A Boy is Born in Bethlehem’), dating from the thirteenth century. Though the majority of carols were for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, others were for Holy Innocents’ Day, Epiphany and Twelfth Night  – for instance, the ‘numeral’ carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, which appears in England from the eighteenth century onwards. The carol ‘The Seven Joys of Mary’, which appears with many variants in the UK and the USA, grew out of pre-Reformation devotion to the Virgin and has survived for centuries in vernacular devotional verses in the folk tradition. The carol ‘I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In’, for which the earliest known printed text dates from 1666, possibly derives from European folk memory of the supposed journeyings of relics of the Magi, the ‘Three Kings of Cologne’.

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Misappropriating Bonhoeffer
 
A Feature Review of
 

The Battle for Bonhoeffer:
Debating Discipleship in the Age of Trump

Stephen Haynes

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Audible ]

 
Reviewed by James Dekker

 
 
The ten chapters and postscript “Open Letter to Christians Who Love Bonhoeffer but (Still) Support Trump” of Stephen Haynes’s Battle for Bonhoeffer are some of the densest I’ve ever read outside of graduate theses, but it is far more engaging than any thesis. Dense is by no means bad. Battle is carefully organized, clearly written and always compelling. And well it should be, since this closely-argued discursus explores possibly the most incandescent questions in American Christians’ conversation since the Vietnam War: “Why and how has Dietrich Bonhoeffer become a hero to evangelicals in the first twenty years of the 21st century, when for decades after his death his theology was widely suspect outside mainline Protestantism? Why do so many evangelicals support Donald Trump?” Such rocky geography covers the American evangelical battleground that Stephen Haynes attempts to delimit.

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In Our Advent 2018 magazine issue,
( shipping soon, are you a subscriber? )

we feature a review of this superb new biography:
 

Then They Came for Me:
Martin Niemöller, the Pastor Who Defied the Nazis
Matthew Hockenos

Hardback: Basic Books, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
 
Since our reviewer for this book, Laura M. Fabrycky, lives in Berlin,
We asked her to take some photos of crucial landmarks from Martin Niemöller’s life…

 

First, a snippet of Laura’s review:

Encountering this man with “an imperfect moral compass” allows us to re-examine our own moral imaginations: how we fashion heroes for ourselves, and how easily we lose their human story—and arguably, aspects of our own—in our quest to make them heroes. The book’s subtitle trumpets Niemöller as “the pastor who defied the Nazis”—and he did, at least enough so to merit their persecution. But his defiance was not, nor could be, salvific. His triumphs were as humanly finite and morally tangled as he was—as we are. Our persistent hunger for glittering images prevents us from seeing how we, ordinary mortals with blind spots, with capacities for grave complicity and banal evil, must make our way in a complicated world. Like Niemöller, we also have no alibi.

 

St. Anne’s Church,
Berlin-Dahlem
(Photo 1 of 10 )

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Georgia on his Mind: George Whitefield and the Margins of Empire
 
A Feature Review of 

George Whitefield:
Evangelist for God and Empire
Peter Choi

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]
 
Reviewed by Alex Joyner

 

Experiments flourish on the margins. It’s why visionaries and mavericks gather in places far from the watchful eye of social convention and official control.  Think Donald Judd making his art and his mark in Marfa in ultra-West Texas. Think Brigham Young and the Mormons building Utah.  Or think George Whitefield and his Georgia plantation.  Wait…what?

George Whitefield has been hard for American religious scholars to classify.  The 18th century transatlantic evangelist clearly had a major impact on the Great Awakening, but, as Peter Choi puts it in his new book on Whitefield, he has always been “a sort of third wheel among undisputed leaders of the evangelical awakening.” (233) The two big wheels being Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley.  “Edwards was the indisputable intellectual leader of the early evangelicals,” Choi says, “and Wesley the sophisticated organizer who laid the groundwork for worldwide Methodism.” (233) But what did Whitefield do?

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TODAY (Nov. 14) is the Feast Day (in the Anglican Communion) of Samuel Seabury.

Samuel Seabury (November 30, 1729 – February 25, 1796) was the first American Episcopal bishop, the second Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and the first Bishop of Connecticut. He was a leading Loyalist in New York City during the American Revolution and a known rival of Alexander Hamilton.
(via Wikipedia)

In honor of the occasion, we re-publish Seabury’s incisive tract, An Earnest Persuasive to Frequent Communion.

 
 

An Earnest Persuasive
to Frequent Communion

Addressed to those Professors of the
Church of England,
in Connecticut,
who neglect that
HOLY ORDINANCE.

Published New Haven, CT
1789

 

Brethren, beloved in Christ,

The title has informed you, that my design is to address you on the subject of frequent Communion in the Holy Eucharist, or Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, commonly called, The Lord’s-Supper. The subject is an important one, and claims your serious attention: And the great neglect of the duty requires plainness of speech, and freedom of admonition on my part. I have, therefore, to request, that you will carefully read and consider what is here addressed to you: and bear patiently that plain dealing which proceeds only from a desire to stir you up to the practice of a duty which I suppose an indispensable one, and in the neglect of which you live in a constant state of sin against your God.

“Sin” said the apostle, “is the transgression of the law.” The will of God, when made known to us, is His law to us, and binds us in all cases whatsoever. Nothing is sinful any further than it is contrary to God’s will; and everything is sinful in the same degree that it is contrary to His will: For to contradict the will of God constitutes the nature and essence of sin.

The will of God is made known to us by Revelation, and is declared in the Holy Bible, which is intended by God to be the standard of our faith and practice, that we may know at all times what He requires us to believe and do.

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A God-Illuminated World
 
A Brief Review of 
 

Flame in the Night:
A Novel of
World War II France

Heather Munn

 
Paperback: Kregel, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Tim Otto
 
 
Flame in the Night, Heather Munn’s new young adult book, takes place in a dark time in which a populist head-of-state scapegoats immigrants, glorifies military might, and calls for worship of the nation-state. The majority of Christians not only don’t resist, they cooperate. In one place however, a witness blazes forth as Christians bravely and sacrificially defy the night. Flame in the Night explores the character and practices that fuel such a community.

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Becoming We.
 
A Review of 
 

One in Christ:
Chicago Catholics and the Quest
for Interracial Justice

Karen Johnson

Hardback: Oxford UP, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed by Claire Johnson
 
 
During this past Easter Break, I exited what was supposed to be a unified, city-wide prayer and worship service in my hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas. Instead, the event was marked with sharp racial divisions of black and white. Catholics and far-fetched liberals weren’t present, or if they were, the white, evangelical event planners had stripped their voices. The body of Christ was not unified. The service was held in a conservative, white Protestant church with white contemporary Protestant Christian music led by the white band from the Southern Baptist church down the street. White pastors from white Protestant churches led the inter-song devotionals. The façade of unity came only from the closeting of diversity. Unity with no diversity is not unity at all.

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Today is All Saints Day …

The day in the church year in which we remember (that is, reconnect ourselves with) the faithful sisters and brothers in Christ who have gone before us.

Below you will find a selection of resources on our site that will help you connect to the stories of the saints. We recommend learning about a saint or two that you know little or nothing about…

 

Ten Women Saints Whose Stories You Should Know.

Here are brief introductions to ten women saints (I use this term loosely to include other prominent women of faith, not just those who have been canonized by the Roman Catholic church) that you should be very familiar with. There are so many more faithful women that could have been included on this list. With the focus here on history, I have limited myself to saints who have lived prior to 1900.
 
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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

    

Placemaking and the Arts:
Cultivating the Christian Life

Jennifer Allen Craft

 

NEXT BOOK >>>>>

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My Soul Grows Straight
 
A Review of 
 

The Hymnal:
A Reading History
Christopher N. Phillips

Hardback: Johns Hopkins UP, 2018.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle
 
Reviewed by Grant Currier
 
 
 
Christopher N. Phillips concludes his The Hymnal: A Reading History in a most unexpected study of Emily Dickinson. The cursory glance will undoubtedly produce a moment or two of bafflement, perhaps curiosity as to her occupying an entire chapter in a book about hymnals, but Phillips writes that “Dickinson understood the hymn as a form of hopeful communication” in which the act of receiving, not giving, constitutes the poem as a hymn.

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