Wednesday, December 6, 2017

#MerryChristmas 🎄Methodist Reverend Chappell preached against secularization in "Christmas without Christ" sermon

Below is the 1936 Christmas sermon from Methodist preacher Reverend Clovis G. Chappell

that appears in his book:  Chappell, Clovis G. Chappell's Special Day Sermons. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983. Print.

An online version is also available at "A Classic Nativity Devotional" or you can check out a hard copy Bell, James S. A Classic Nativity Devotional. Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 2006. Print.

I included short editorial comments, such as giving chapter and verse of the Bible verses cited in Chappell's sermon, between square brackets []  I enclosed longer discursive comments, such as  hymn hymn titles of lyrics Chappell quoted, between scissor snips ✂️---------------------------------------

"There was no room for them in the inn" Luke 2:7


Here is a story whose pathos seems to deepen with the passing of the centuries. The angel of suffering has come to Mary, and her brow is crowned with the sweet radiance of motherhood. In her arms is a little child. That Child is Heaven's King, and the King of this world, and of all worlds. It was of him that the prophet sang : "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." [ Isaiah 9:6 ]

He is the Word made flesh that has come to dwell among us, full of grace and truth.

Matthew 3:17

His birth is an event so glorious that all Heaven is athrill with the wonder of it. A star is pointing to the manger cradle with fingers of light. An angel is proclaiming the glad tidings of great joy in words that never lose their sweetness : "For there is born unto you this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord." [ Luke 2:11

A wonderful choir from the land where everybody sings is serenading our discordant world with celestial music, praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace!" [ Luke 2:14

[ Longfellow uses King James "on earth peace, good will toward men" vs Douay-Rheims Bible translation of Luke 2:14 "and on earth peace to men of good will"]

But the wonder of Heaven is little shared by our sin-darkened world. It is true that a few wise men are following the pointing finger of this star, and will soon come to offer their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Also a little handful of shepherds who have heard the angel's sermon, and have believed it, are saying to one another: "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known unto us." [ Luke 2:15 And they come and find the Child, and finding him, they find a new day.  They find Christmas with its passion for giving.  Therefore they make known abroad the saying that was told them concerning this child.  But the great world passes on its way with unseeing eyes.  And this innkeeper who is so close to this great event, who might have had Jesus born within his own home, misses it altogether.  In fact he passes through these tremendous hours as utterly unmindful as the dead that anything out of the ordinary is taking place.  In his blindness he throws Heaven's supreme gift into an old outhouse, because there was no room at the inn.

John 1:1 "in principio erat" "in the beginning was"


Since that distant day, this Child has grown to manhood.  He has spoken as never man spake.  He has shown himself to be the wisdom of God and the power of God.  He has gone to the cross for man's redemption.  He has broken the bonds of death. He has lifted empires off their hinges and changed the whole course of human history.  Today he comes to us as the Christ of experience.  He accounts for all that is best and most beautiful in out world. He accounts for that which was most kingly in your father and most queenly in your mother.  Millions have been able to sing of him out of their own vital experiences:

"I know not how that Bethlehem's Babe 

Could in the Godhead be;

I only know the Manger Child

Has brought God's life to me.

"I know not how that Calvary's Cross

A world of sin could free;

I only know its matchless love

Has brought God's love to me.

"I know not how that Joseph's grave

Could solve death's mystery;

I only know a living Christ,

Our immortality."

I've never heard of this hymn. According to Morgan, Robert J. Near to the Heart of God: Meditations on 366 Best-Loved Hymns. Grand Rapids, Mich: Revell, 2010. Internet resource. or available online thru google books The lyrics were written by Harry Webb Farrington 

and may be sung to the tune of "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee."


But in spite of all this, for vast multitudes this holy season will be Christmas without Christ, a mere shadow without the substance, a corpse with all life and beauty gone away. This will be true not simply for those who have never heard the gladsome story of the coming of the King.  It will be true not alone of those who, having heard, for one reason or another, have failed to accept it.  It will be true even of many of us who have heard the good news with joy and have received it and pledged out allegiance to the King.  I sometimes fear that we who call ourselves Christians are least Christian during Christmas.  There are those who permit themselves debaucheries at this holy season that they do not permit at any other time during the year.  There are those who prepare elaborate feasts, and then shut the door in the face of the Guest of Honor.  Of course there are many winsome exceptions.  Much will be done this Christmas upon which our Lord can smile.  A million childish eyes will sparkle, and a million childish hearts will thrill with joy. Of this he will be glad. But still there will be a multitude far too large who will have little or no room for Jesus.


Why did not this innkeeper make room for Jesus? Why do not we?  There are many possible reasons. I am going to mention only three:

1. This innkeeper may have failed to make room because he was not expecting him.  He perhaps had neither thought nor hope of his coming.  This is certainly the case with multitudes of us today.  We have, in large measure, lost our expectancy.  We are exceedingly short on hope. This is one of our predominant characteristics.  Very few of us are standing upon our watchtower, scanning the horizon in the faith that something big is about to take place.  Our attitude is just the opposite to that of the Early Church.  These first Christians lived on tiptoe of expectancy.  There was a word that was constantly upon their lips, that was "Maranatha" -- "The Lord is Coming!"

They greeted each other with that bracing word when they met in the morning.  They cheered each other with it as they went to face death, or horrible tortures worse than death.  It was often the password by which they gained admission to secret places of worship.

At any moment, they felt, the Lord was likely to come in glory upon them.

This should be our attitude. One of the supreme needs of the Church today is the recovery of its lost note of expectancy.  Our lack of hope may defeat our Lord and shut him out of our lives as effectively as our positive sin. We read of a certain village of the long ago that Jesus visited, but no big and transforming deeds were done there simply because the villagers expected nothing at his hands.  We see all too few deeds of might being done by him in our desperate days, and for the same reason.  For he is certainly still abroad in his world.  

Every day he is knocking at the door of our hearts. Every hour he is seeking admission into our perplexed and troubled lives.  There is no slightest doubt that he will call on every one of us at this Christmas time.

But our lack of expectancy may cause us to shut the door in his face.  Let us, therefore, be looking for him.  He will not fail us.  For his promise is sure: "They shall not be ashamed that wait for me." [ Isaiah 49:23 ]

2.  Then, this innkeeper may have shut the door in the face of Jesus because he did not recognize him.  You see he came to him as the unborn Christ.  He did not have your chance and mine.  But his failure to recognize Jesus was perhaps due far more to the fact that he was not expecting him than to the guise in which he came.  That is almost always the case.  It is so easy to fail to recognize one whom we are not expecting to see.  After Jesus was crucified, two of his heart-broken friends were on their way back home. 

There was nothing else to do now that their Lord was dead and all their glad hopes had come to nothing.  But as they went their tearful way, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  Not only so, but he entered into conversation with them.  But they failed to recognize him.  This, because their lack of expectancy had put out their eyes.

But there were those in that distant day who did recognize him, though they saw him disguised as a little child.  The sainted Symeon was of this elect group.  How did he manage it? Luke lets us into the secret when he tells that Symeon was "on the outlook for the Consolation of Israel." [ Luke 2:25 ]

He had read the promises.  He had believed them.  He had become convinced that he should not die till he had seen the coming King.  Therefore, he wakened morning by morning, as children waken on Christmas, full of eager hope.  Then one day he went to attend a service at the Temple.  To many this was just another service, but not to him.  For as he worshipped, he saw a peasant woman enter with a little Baby in her arms.  How ordinary they seemed to the crowd!  But this expectant saint was able to recognize in that little Child the Anointed of Jehovah.  And having recognized him, he at once took him into his arms and into his heart.  Then in the realization that the big dream of his life had come true, he burst into a song of sheer gladness that lives to this day: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."[ Luke 2:29-30


Luke 2:30 is just one of at least seventeen Bible verses that inspired lyricist Julia Ward Howe "Battle Hymn of the Republic

1 John 4:17, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Isaiah 30:28, Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah 63:1-4, John 8:32, Luke 2:30, Luke 21:27, Matthew 6:28-29, Psalms 43:3, Psalms 76:12, Revelation 19:15, Romans 14:10.


I do not know in just what guise our Lord will knock at your door and mine at this Christmas season.  He may come through a gnawing hunger and a burning thirst.  He may come through the consciousness of our weakness, or a sense of the sheer futility of life as we are living it.  He may come through some call to service.  He may come in the guise of a little child needing our help and saying, "Whoso receiveth one such little child in my name receiveth me." [ Matthew 18:5 ] But in some fashion he is sure to come.  If we are expecting him, we shall likely recognize him, and recognizing him, receive him.

3. Perhaps this innkeeper did not open the door to Jesus because he did not want him.  Certainly that is the case with many of us.  By this, I do not mean, of course, that we do not desire Jesus as our guest if we could have him on our own terms.  But we cannot do this.  A gentleman drove a sport model automobile up in front of my home sometime ago, and hurried in with the announcement that I was in the X car class, and that because his company was eager to have me drive their car, he would sell that one to me for the meager sum of four thousand dollars.  My answer was, "I do not want it."  By this I did not mean that his car was not desirable. I did not mean that I would not want it if the price had been four thousand cents, and the company had promised to endow it.  But what I did mean was that price and upkeep taken into consideration, I did not want it.

This is too often the case with regard to Jesus.  There are guests that some of us insist upon entertaining with whom he flatly refuses to associate.  To such he is nothing more than an embarrassment.  This has always been the case.  When Herod heard of him from the wise men, he did not burst into song -- he was merely troubled.  When the inhabitants of Gadara learned of the marvelous cure he had wrought on an insane man, also of what had happened to a certain herd of hogs, they hurried to him, not to beg him to abide with them and work other cures, but rather to depart out of their coast. 

The Jewish nation did not want him, though they had looked forward to his coming for long centuries.  About the saddest sentence ever written is this: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." [ John 1:11 ]

What guest will you entertain at this Christmas that will make the presence of Jesus in your heart an impossibility? When Paul preached to Felix, his word was with power.  The heart of Felix was deeply stirred.  He was made to tremble at the realization of the ghastly mess he had made of his life.  He was doubtless made wistful, also, by the recognition of the finer manhood that might be his through Jesus Christ.  But he had another guest in his heart, and that guest was lust.  He could not give up the woman with whom he was living in adultery, so he said, "Go thy way for this time." [ Acts 24:25 ]

Is that your case? Do not be shocked.  I am not accusing you of being guilty of the same sin as Felix.  But other more decent and respectable sins ["respectable sins" sounds like an oxymoron] may shut Jesus out of our life just as effectively.  How charming was the Rich Young Ruler!  How eager he was to have eternal life!  How courageously he ran down the road, blue blood that he was, to kneel at the feet of a man whose palms were calloused by handling the tools of a carpenter!  How clean he was!  When Jesus put to him the moral law, he could say that he had kept it from his youth.  But when the Master told him how he might have life, saying, "Go, sell that thou hast, give to the poor, and follow me," he went away. [ Matthew 19:21 ]  

He had another guest in his heart.  It was the love of gold.  It was a decent enough love in the eyes of men, but it shut Jesus out of his life as genuinely as lust shut him out of the life of Felix.

Then, if there are those who do not want Jesus because he is too exacting, there are others who do not desire him because they fail to see that he is infinitely rewarding.  He brings treasures with him of priceless worth.  His coming means the coming of peace.  He makes real to us the song that the angels sang above the starlit heights of Bethlehem. 

He brings us the spirit of Christmas which is the spirit of giving.  He enables us to do for the world, in some measure, what Mary did in the long ago, to give it a living Christ.  This he will do for you.  This he will do for every expectant soul that refuses to shut the door in his face.

It is said that years ago a French nobleman was spending a few days in Paris.  One night as he sat in a certain park of the city he was charmed by the music of the nightingales.  He then thought of his own vast estate with its lovely parks, and wondered sadly why no nightingales spilled out their heavenly music there.  When he went back home, he discovered the reason.  His parks were infested by birds of prey, screaming hawks and hooting owls. He, therefore, set hunters to work killing these evil birds till not one was left [I suspect ecologists would find describing birds of prey as 'evil' overly judgmental and inaccurate]. Then, one night he heard the song of the lone nightingale.  The next night, there were others.  Today his once songless parks are known as the Garden of the Nightingales. 

A kindred transformation Christ waits to work in your heart and mine if we only receive him as our Guest.


Chappell's reference to a French Garden of the Nightingales or <<Jardin des Rossignols>> could be an allusion to Jean Delacour's aviaries mentioned in Zickefoose, Julie. “Review: A Field Guide to ‘Birdmania’.” The Wall Street Journal, 18 Nov. 2017, Appeared in the November 18, 2017, print edition as 'A Field Guide to Bird People.'

"A childhood fascination with chickens led Jean Delacour (1890-1985) down a slippery slope teeming with pheasants, sunbirds, hummingbirds, waterfowl, ostriches and even birds of paradise. He incorporated some 3,000 of these in his vast planted aviaries at his château in Normandy: Only fish-eating ducks and raptors were exempt from inclusion. The curation of such a diverse collection boggles the mind, but Delacour’s was one of at least three massive private French assemblages at the time. Delacour’s Parc de Clères is open to the public to this day."



How may we receive him? All he asks is that we be willing.  If we can sing with genuine sincerity, "Come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee," that is enough. [ quote from E.S. Elliot hymn "Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown" ]

1 Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown, 
When Thou camest to earth for me;

But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room

For Thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

In one particular the story of the Garden of the Nightingales breaks down.  We do not have to kill or drive out all the birds of prey that are in the garden of our hearts before Jesus will come in.  We only have to be willing to let him drive them out.  One of the most beautifully suggestive names given our Lord by the holy men of old is the "Dayspring."  The word is in itself a poem.  It flashes with light.  It thrills with the song of awakening birds.  It is sweet with the perfume of flowers freshly baptized in dew.  "Dayspring" means the dawning.  It is the sunrise.  And when Zacharias spoke of the little Baby that was soon to be born at Bethlehem, he said, "The Dayspring from on high shall visit us." [ Luke 1:78 ] This amazing Christ is not simply to be a new star in our sky.  He is to be a sun, even Sun of Righteousness, bringing healing in his beams.

Now, since he is the Dayspring, the Light of the world, we do not have to coax him to enter our hearts.  We no more have to coax him than we do the sunrise.  When a few hours ago the sun looked through the gates of the morning, all we had to do in order to have it flood our homes and make them radiant was to lift he blinds and fling open the doors.  And that is all we have to do in order to have the Sun of Righteousness as our guest.  We do not have to persuade him.  He persuades us, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." [ Revelation 3:20

For many, doubtless this will be a rather trying and lonely Christmas.  There is a grave out in God's acre and a wound in your heart that were not there a year ago.  Some will feel the pinch of poverty and will grieve that they have so little to give.  Some will be forgotten and will be desperately lonely.  But whatever may be your circumstances, there is One who will remember you.  However humble your home, there is one Guest that will, if permitted, take up his abode with you.  We may all have Christ, and it is his presence that makes Christmas.  I once saw a little girl trying to put a bit of soiled note paper into a mail box.  It was a letter to Santa Claus, she told me.  But tiptoe how she might, she was not able to reach high enough to mail her letter.  I went to her assistance, but I am afraid that even then it never arrived.  But the smallest of us is able to reach high enough to lay hold on Christ's hand, for he comes down to walk with us and to home in our hearts.  Receive him as your Guest, and nothing can prevent you from having a happy Christmas.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Composer Schoenberg makes cameo in #WomanInGold film

Schoenberg made a cameo in a previous post on Aaron Copland where he's mention in an Encylopedia Britannica article on 12-tone music (a topic I still don't really understand)

The new unifying principle in composition would then arise from the particular order given to a collection of the 12 tones, an order that would be different for each composition. The basic order for any one composition came to be known as its basic set, its 12-tone row, or its 12-tone series, all of which terms are synonymous. The basic set for Schoenberg’s Wind Quintet (1924) is E♭–G–A–B–C♯–C–B♭–D–E–F♯–A♭–F; for his String Quartet No. 4 (1936) it is D–C♯–A–B♭–F–E♭–E–C–A♭–G–F♯–B.
The basic set is not a theme, for it has no specific shape, rhythm, or loudness. It is a backbone, a musical idea that permeates the composition in which it is used. Because of the various principles of composing and manipulating the basic set recognized by Schoenberg and others, it is not often possible nor even desirable to hear the basic set when the composition is performed. This situation has led many people to attack Schoenberg’s method as unmusical and as mathematical madness. Such views seem unjustifiable, because, as Schoenberg pointed out, his method specifies only a tiny fraction of the total nature of a composition—certainly no more than composing with tonality specifies.

The composer Schoenberg, or at least his music, also made a cameo in the film "Woman in Gold" because his grandson, Randol, was a lawyer who defended a family friend who was trying to retrieve a Klimt painting stolen by the Nazis

Specifically Schoenberg's  Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 was played in the concert scene:

Randol Schoenberg linked to a different version of this piece on his youtube channel, as well as to a piece composed by converting the digits of into  π music posted by Carlos Manuel

There has been many attempts to make a conversion of the digits of Pi to musical notes, but I noticed that the methods used were pretty unrealistic. What they were doing was to convert the 10 digits of the decimal system in 10 notes, and then play them. Of course that doesn't make any sense because our musical notation has 12 notes! So I converted the digits of Pi to the duodecimal system (Base 12), and made a program to play it. Here are the results.

I found the Supreme Court case scene to be annoying because the screenplay writers put the silly words of silly RINO Justice Souter into the totally awesome Chief Justice Rehnquist:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Vandenberg was a guy's name not a town

Even though a shot of the entry sign to Vandenberg AFB with its name spelled correctly is included Perry Mason "The Case of the Misguided Missile"

the people typing closed captions still managed to misspell its name, presumably assuming Vandenberg referred to a town/burgh vs a man's name:

Additionally, Mr. grabby hands is engaging in sexual harassment of his secretary, but that didn't become a thing until Clarence Thomas was nominated for SCOTUS, and stopped being a thing whenever Democrats are accused of it.

A link to SNL's 1991 "CLARENCE THOMAS' PICKUP TECHNIQUE" sketch if player doesn't load

Sunday, June 11, 2017

George Gerswhin reference in Jane Austen #Emma adaptation

"Emma Approved" is an adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma" set in 21st Century America where Emma is cast as a matchmaker/lifestyle coach.

The Harriet Smith character in the "Plus One, Minus One" episode

makes a reference to the George Gershwin song "They Can't Take that away from Me" written for the Astaire Rogers film "Shall We Dance":

There's possibly a bit of deliberate or inadvertent misdirection in this scene:

Harriet Smith: I read this book in high school containing love letters written by different presidents. I was thinking we could print out copies and put them on tables for your guests to read.
Caroline Lee: I'm sorry, I thought we were discussing the music?
Harriet Smith: Then we have the DJ play songs inspired by the letters. For example, Roosevelt letters to his wife were all about the little things: her smile, the way she slept, her laugh.
Emma Woodhouse: Romantic, go on
Smith: Then we dedicate a song from Teddy to Alice, and we play the Gershwins' "They Can't Take that away from Me." A classic.

When I thought of Gershwin music and the Roosevelts, I immediately thought of Franklin and Eleanor, since they were in the White House when the song was composed. However, the Democrat Roosevelts had more of a business versus romantic relationship.

Obviously, Theodore Roosevelt possessed a more romantic attachment to his wife than his cousin, Franklin, did to his:

On the topic of mashing up classics with new adaptations, a youtuber pointed out that the choreography to another Gershwin song from the same film "They All Laughed" could be synched up, if you squinted, to Stromae - <<Tous Les Mêmes>>

Unfortunately, the exact video Helen P referenced has been taken down due to copyright violations (those evil greedy corporations :-)

The best I can figure, Stromae's song synchs up from the start of Fred dancing about 2:42 mark:

Warning, the Stromae video depicts godless heathen behavior, so you might have to say 10 Hail Marys after watching it:

And, finally, a reprise of "They Can't Take that away from Me" this time sung by Billie Holiday:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Of Pretzels and Spelling Bees 🙏

I saw a recent hippy comic strip goofing on pretzels, saying they look like snakes:

This annoyed me because as I recalled from Catholic school days, and as KateriofMnisota confirmed on her video, pretzels were made for Lent

Usual interpretation that pretzels represent arms in prayer:

An alternative explanation is that pretzels represent the trinity:

Even the secular humanist History channel confirms

Pretzels were designed to be in the shape of hands in prayers:

So, the stupid comic seems to be either wittingly, or unwittingly, anti Christian. However, the USA is a free country, so Tony Cochran, the hippy comic,  has the right to be a jerk.

One might guess the religious connotations of pretzels if one looked up the etymology  "Pretzel." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 9 June 2017

However, clicking on the link to the kid's explanation of "pretzel" gives a purely secular humanist explanation that pretzels are just shaped like folded arms with no reference to prayer:

If you're obsessed with etymologies, then you also might be obsessed with Spelling Bees and their etymologies:

Ben Zimmer June 2, 2017  "Wall Street Journal" article "Searching for the Roots of Spelling Bees" hypothesizes both a secular ( imitating honey bees) and religious (derivation from Latin "bene" aka "blessing") source for the modern term "bee":

"Etymologists [with an affinity for entomologists - I made a punny!] long assumed that these get-togethers were called 'bees' 'in allusion to the social character of the insect,' as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it. But a sociologist named George C. Homans came up with a different theory in his 1941 book 'English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century.' Homans noticed a striking similarity between the 'bees' of his native New England and what were called 'beans' or 'beens' in the English countryside, likewise involving neighbors sharing in some type of labor. That in turn likely stems from the Middle English word 'bene,' meaning a boon or prayer."

So, in case, Homans' theory is correct, here is Liszt's "Blessing of God in Solitude" for your easy listening pleasure whilst munching yummy pretzels and reading random dictionary definitions:

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Battle Hymn of the Republic" 🇺🇸 vs "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory"🙏

I uploaded  a kludgy recording of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." I was doing some Spring cleaning and ran across a shoe box of old audio cassettes, one of which is of  an old LP record I taped many years ago. Unfortunately, I've lost all information about this record. I don't know the artist or the arranger, but I liked the performance, so I thought I'd share. If anybody recognizes the artist, I'd appreciate the feedback so I can update the video:

I noticed when recording that the hippy hymnal I own, Batastini, Robert J, and Michael A. Cymbala. Gather: Choir Book. Chicago: GIA Publications, 1988. Musical score.

listed the title as "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" under the category of the "Second Coming"

The same hippy hymnal listed "My Country Tis of Thee" under the category "Nation"

Conversely, the normal, non-hippy hymnal Alstott, Owen. The Choir Book. Portland, OR: OCP Publications, 1979. Musical score.

Properly lists the song as the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" under "Patriotic" songs:

Lastly, a rendition from Classic Arts Showcase: