November 28, 2022
As we embark upon another Christmas journey, I want to share some resources that are worth taking with you on your journey. As an experienced hiker knows only to take what is truly useful, I would like to share with you some resources that I plan to “take with me” this season and that I believe you will find helpful as well.
I never feel quite ready to let go of the beautiful Christmas hymns once the season has come and gone, and writing some Christmas arrangements was the perfect way to continue enjoying Christmas music. So last winter after the flurry of the Christmas season had passed, I spent many gray January afternoons relishing the sounds of the season by writing for the next year’s Christmas, now this holiday season.
One Christmas hymn in particular haunted my musical mind, and I could not let go of its simple beauty. "See Amid the Winter’s Snow" captured my imagination, and, I’m ashamed to say, was unfamiliar to me. An idea for an unaccompanied violin and cello duet of "See Amid the Winter’s Snow" came to me, and after completing this duet, two more arrangements flowed in my mind, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Away in a Manger". I am thrilled to present “Christmas Joy for Violin and Cello” featuring three traditional Christmas carols:
See Amid the Winter’s Snow
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Away in a Manger
My goal is to record any arrangements possible and present them on my YouTube so that potential buyers can listen to the music before purchasing. Recording these duets was going to be a challenge because I do not play the cello well, so I began praying for someone to record with me. God answered my prayers for a cellist, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to record with Mr. Stephen Minion.
This collection is also available for violin and viola.
You may also enjoy playing and/or singing some of my other Christmas music:
In the Bleak Midwinter—piano duet
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus—piano solo
Silent Night, Holy Night—piano solo
God Chose a Lowly Maid –Soprano/ Alto duet
Silent Night, Holy Night—vocal solo
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus—violin solo
Last year I wrote a simple Christmas devotional that you may enjoy in your own personal time or as a group study.
Jolene Kauffman shared with me her beautiful Day Star advent study last year, and what a blessing it was to my heart! I was humbled that she would share her labor of love. Daily, I devoured her devotionals and found her words, but most importantly, the Word of God feeding my heart during such a rushed time of year. Jolene points mamas to the Word of God during a time of when we feel most like stretched play dough, ready to fall apart.
In her Day Star study, Jolene has written a succinct morning devotional with a corresponding scripture reading for mothers and an evening devotional and scripture passage for families. My family and I walked through every day of this study and were tremendously blessed by it.
I am hesitant to recommend books about the birth of Christ with fantasized details. Many authors take great poetic license and create details about the birth of Christ that scripture just does not reveal to us. I want my children’s understanding about the birth of Christ to align completely with scripture and not be cluttered with a writer’s imaginative reinterpretations of the Christmas account. For this reason, I stick very closely with reading the biblical account of Christ’s birth to my children and only books that are very carefully close to scripture. When I have read books that do not stick with the biblical text, my oldest has turned to me asked, “Mommy, did that really happen?”
My favorite book is a large book that my uncle gave to my brothers and me back in 1989 entitled The Story of Christmas. The book is completely Bible text with beautiful illustrations. The only issue I have with the book is that the illustrator presents the wise men worshipping Jesus in the stable which is not biblically accurate. But that is certainly not a showstopper for me reading this book to my children. My children love the rich illustrations in this large book!
Books that share the warmth of the love of God and the kindness we should show others bless my heart at this time. Not all these books are religious per se, but they exemplify the kind of moral character I desire to encourage in my children.
Last Christmas this book entered our home for the first time, and my eyes teared the first time we read it. In a tender account of new beginnings, a hardened widower learns to open his heart again during the Christmas season. Through the gentle and continual prodding of a child and the thoughtful kindnesses of a widow, a crusty heart is softened and friendship is won. The beauty and depth of this book will speak to adult’s hearts, too.
A little girl, curious about the newcomer in town, offers to help unpack his shop, and after unpacking numerous glass jars she discovers that he sells candy! One candy in particular puzzles her, and the shop-owner tells the story of the candy cane with the gospel message woven in his narrative.
The front cover of this book is beautiful enough that I want to decorate with it! If I had a coffee table, this would be a book to display on top.
Jack, a heart-sick teenage boy longs for his father to return home. Hard times have struck this family, and Jack’s father left home seeking work. Jack and his mother face loneliness and poverty, but Jack’s mother shares what little they have with others as she mixes up a batch of Christmas cookies for the needy. Jack, feeling needy himself, has little room in his heart to share with others. Jack’s mother uses this teachable moment to share the history of the Christmas cookie with Jack. By the end of this warm tale, Jack learns what it is to truly give in a time when giving is hard.
Friends, I hope you have found this post encouraging and helpful. Perhaps you already have some of these resources in your home. If not, maybe you could purchase one as a gift for your family. May you enjoy the start of a busy but blessed season!