Hymns

Rejoicing in the New Year

"Třanovský knew something about suffering. He lived during the devastating Thirty-Year War, was imprisoned once, exiled twice, and forced to move several times. Three of his children died, and both he and the people under his care suffered the consequences of wars, pillaging, and pestilence. He was bedridden and in pain for eight months before going to meet his Savior." - Ref21

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Light in the Darkness: A Series for Advent Part Two – Shadows

Read Part 1.

As the darkness gives way to the daylight, we notice long shadows—perhaps moving directly upon us.

Shadows have the capacity to unnerve—even frighten us. Sometimes the shadows may be mistaken for something real. At other times, something real may be hiding in the shadows.

Shadows make us uncomfortable. They represent incompleteness and uncertainty—”variation or shadow of turning” (Js. 1:17).

Shadows create a sense of darkness. In reality, however, the shadows prove the existence of the light—although it is hidden from view.

As the Old Testament saints looked ahead toward the ineffable brilliance of their Messiah’s first coming, they saw enormous signs between it and them, casting shadows back upon them.

There were gigantic figures like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel. These men, and others who followed their examples, pointed—albeit in a very finite and limited way—to the coming of the One that God had promised to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, the “Seed” of “the woman.”

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Which advent is in view in ‘Joy to the World’?

"Comparing Watts’ hymn with the Psalm on which it is based raises several important clues as to which advent Watts had in view. The Psalm itself does not necessarily give indication as to which advent it presents. Both salvation and judgement did come with Christ’s incarnation, although they will certainly come with finality when He comes again." - BPNews

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Leland Ryken– 40 Favorite Hymns on the Christian Life: a Closer Look at Their Spiritual and Poetic Meaning

"What you’ll hear in this episode: What it means to read the great hymns as devotional poems. Why should Christians read hymns as poems in addition to singing them. How Dr. Ryken envisions readers using this anthology of hymnic poems." - Servants of Grace

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Light in the Darkness: A Series for Advent Part One – Darkness

Darkness, to our sight, corresponds to silence, in our hearing. It is the absence of any stimulus to inform, direct or encourage us.

But darkness also entails a moral component. Darkness, by its very nature, spreads a covering over sin (see John 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:35, 46; Eph. 5:11-14).

Furthermore, darkness is symbolic of Satan and evil, as Jesus stated during his arrest in Luke 22:53: “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.”1 The Apostle Paul also referenced this theme regarding the depravity of the human heart in Ephesians 5:8, stating: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Other passages that use the same imagery include Isaiah 5:20, Matthew 27:45 and Acts 26:18.

Beyond that, darkness may picture hell itself—even the eternal lake of fire (see Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).

The word darkness appears 99 times in the Old Testament and 42 times in the New Testament. Darkness represents ignorance and frustration—even despair (see Isa. 42:6-7; 58:10: 59:9). Darkness is ominous and threatening—indicating impending danger (see Isaiah 8:22; 45:7; 60:2).

The declining daylight at this time of year reminds us in a tangible way of the darkness that God’s people felt as they waited for their Messiah to arrive. This was sensed most keenly during the 400 silent years that followed the last utterance of true, Biblical, prophetic revelation that was given before Christ.

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