Music has always been a significant part of my life. Earliest memories were making words (though not accurate) to sing hymns with my grandmother as she ironed, sewed, or cooked. Seems she never corrected me, or explained their meanings, we just sang together. “Back in the day”daily readings of Hurlbut’s Stories of the Bible, Sunday School, Church services, participation in choirs, radio, and phonographs—and grandma—were the sources for learning hymns. Little did I realize I would ever experience these stories firsthand. I sang in children’s choirs at church, later I accompanied those choirs, and more—even on Christmas Eve after Bill had placed a diamond ring on my finger.

While taking tour groups to the Holy Land, Bill would have us sing a stanza of an Advent or Christmas hymn pertaining to that specific place.  Ah—a visual connection. In Bethlehem, looking out over fields with shepherds tending their flocks; watching at night silhouettes of camels on a plain where millions of stars twinkled in the sky, you could almost hear the Angels on High singing “Gloria;” standing in utter awe where that long-expected baby Jesus was born; remaining so silent in this sacred place; then bursting forth with Joy to the World—how can one have a favorite?  

Those Advent and Christmas season hymns have held different meanings for me—with loss, with joy of new family babies, with all the turmoil in the world, but comfort in knowing there has always been and always will be that baby into whom God breathed life in that stable so many years ago, and who now holds us in his loving arms and wants us to keep lustily singing Joy to the World!

In 2016 as we proceed to make the journey during Advent, let us keep our eyes on the Star and celebrate the birthday of the One who was and is and ever shall be!

Susanne Arthur

About the Contributor

Susanne Arthur has been a member of FPC since 2008 where, as Bill said, “God has placed us here in this final part of my abundant life.” The Arthurs shared the joy of Christmas music for 49 years (counting the engagement year!). This joy guides Susanne still..