Monday, November 25, 2019

When Joseph learned

When Joseph learned his bride-to-be was soon to have a child,
He had no wish to cause her harm or hold her up to shame.
A righteous man, his mind was set, to sad choice reconciled,
Until into his restless dreams the Lord’s own angel came.

“Oh, son of David, do the good; take Mary as your wife;
The child in her is Spirit-made of God’s own true design.
This son she bears will save us all from sin and give us life.”
The angel’s word did give him strength and his good task define.

Then came to mind these prophet words: “the woman bears a son,
His name shall be Immanuel,” God-with-us for all time.
So Joseph woke and knew his work was only now begun;
To be at Mary’s side when she gave birth to life sublime.

So Joseph did the Lord’s command, and was, both strong and true,
The earthly father of God’s Son; this work became his call.  
Now give we thanks for one who did what God called him to do,
And take his good obedience as model for us all.

TEXT: Charles Spence Freeman, 2019, after Matthew 1:18-25
MUSIC: Suggested Tunes:
            NOEL (Sullivan), English melody, arr. Arthur Sullivan, 1874 (Sometimes associated with “It came upon the midnight clear”)
            ST. LOUIS, Lewis Henry Redner, 1868 (“O little town of Bethlehem”)
            FOREST GREEN, English folk tune, arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906 (alternate tune for “O little town of Bethlehem”)

Got out of order here; this one is for Advent 4A, specifically the annunciation to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-25. The previous entry is for Advent 1A; 2A and 3A are forthcoming. There are multiple tunes noted, but the one set above is the one that was in my head as I wrote the text. It seems only fair; Sullivan (yes, of "Gilbert and" fame) has seen his tune for "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" eclipsed (at least in the US), and while NOEL is used in Glory to God, it's not for any seasonal text. The obvious seasonal tune name cried out for at least the proximity of Advent.

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