December 10, 2013

God with Us by Sharon Espeseth

St. Anne's and United Church Choir 2012
I started singing in choir during my mid teens. I may have been one of the youngest choir members at the time, but I enjoyed this opportunity to sing with people of all ages, including those who were in their senior years, as I am now.

For about a dozen years, we sang cantatas, including some beautiful ones by John W. Peterson, for Christmas and Easter. What a marvelous way to memorize Scripture. Sound bytes of this music, challenging to learn at the time, still resound in my inner ear and remind me of the amazing story of Jesus coming to earth to save us from our sins.

During my adult years, I sang in choir whenever I could. Then, duties of parenting, teaching, farming, and running a household made the commitment to choir music out of reach for me. After the kids grew up and circumstances allowed, I got back into choir at St. Anne's for another dozen years or so.

Published by Hope Publishing Company, 2005, Carol Stream, IL
For the third consecutive year, our St. Anne's Church Choir is singing a cantata with the United Church Choir in Barrhead. This year we are working on Emmanuel--God with Us! arranged and composed by Lloyd Larson. In this musical, Larson has combined the sacred scriptures about the Messiah coming with songs old and new. 

Through music and verse, we are reminded, and we remind others, that God's Spirit is revealed in us. As we sing, we pray, that we may show hope and be hope to the world. (Last week, referring to some of Pope Francis' talks on poverty and social justice, Father Martin Jubinville, said, "Hope demands action.") We cannot be hope to the world by sitting on our hands. 

In another part of the cantata, we sing , "O Emmanuel, God with us; with a light to break the darkness." Regarding the Messiah's coming to earth, the narration says, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined. For a child has been born. . . "

You are the light of the world, says the Lord.

Christ tells us that we are the light of the world and we must not hide it. Instead we are to "let (our) light shine before men, that they may see (our) good deeds and praise (our) Father in heaven."

As Christians and as writers, we have a responsibility to be the hope, to be the light, and to share God's hope and light with the world.

This Christmas may we do our part to share the reality of the coming of our Lord.


  1. Sharon, I'm glad you sneaked in this blog post and tapped us on our shoulders via the Inscribe listserve to let us know it's here. I've been in various church choirs, though not presently, and your post brought back some lovely memories.

  2. When I first became a Christian I quickly learned the praise choruses in church. Gradually, as I read my Bible, I discovered verses I knew, verses I'd learned in song without realizing they were straight from scripture. I felt as though the Lord had been writing on my heart in invisible ink, and now the letters were visible on the pages of my Bible!

    Music is a precious gift of the Lord, and a powerful tool for him, as well. Wonderful post, Sharon!

  3. Thanks for comments on what church music means to you. I like what you say, Bobbi, about feeling "as thought the Lord had been writing on (your) heart in invisible ink. . . " I'll think of that as I practice in my head for the Sunday evening cantata. I'd better sit down to the keyboard for a few minutes too.

  4. Thank you Sharon! Music is my favourite part of Christmas, without a doubt! And you're right, it sure helps us to memorize those precious scriptures.

  5. I agree, Pam. Christmas and music go together. Even at the first Christmas the angels sang. What a sight and sound that must have been.


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