Christmas Music Matters: God is With Us!

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Today, let’s look Eastward, at part of the Liturgy of Great Compline on Christmas Eve in the Byzantine Greek Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition.

The Prophecies of Isaiah are chanted, among others:

The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, which translated is, God with us (Is 7:14-15).

God is with us, understand all ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us (Is 8:9).

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end (Is 9:6-7).

Here are versions of this moving chant:

Greek tones (in English):

Russian tones (in English):

As an interesting note, all Pastors usually have to remind their parishioners in their preaching at this time of year, that the line

“God is with us, understand all ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us”

does NOT mean “God is with our group, understand this everybody, and submit yourselves to our group!”

Rather it means, “God is with all of us. Understand this everybody, and submit yourselves to God, for God is with us!”

Here is a truly transcendent version by the renowned British Orthodox Composer John Tavener:

God is with us.
Hear ye people,
Even to the uttermost end of the earth.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.
The people that dwell in the shadow of death, upon them the light has shined.
For unto us a child is born!
For 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.
Hear ye people,
Even to the uttermost end of the earth.
God is with us,
Christ is born!

Meditate on these verses and music, and welcome the God of Your Hearts!

Merry Christmas!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

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