03 December 2012

Sing We All of Christmas: The People that in Darkness Sat

Taken from a text perhaps most famously set by Handel in the Messiah, this paraphrase of Isaiah 9:2-8 was written by John Morison, and appeared in the 1781 "Scottish Paraphrases" (of interest in their own right). 
The melody, or tune, bears the name CATHNESS, and is at once charming and easily singable by the youngest or the beginning singer or congregation.  The melody moves largely by step, the rhythm is about as basic as it can get.  Yet it has a sweet lilt that gives both focus and beauty to the text it accompanies.
The theme of "a glorious light" directs us, as we sing, not only to the first advent of our Lord, but also to the promise of His second one, to his reign that shall never end.
The people that in darkness sat
A glorious light have seen;
The light has shined on them who long
In shades of death have been.
For unto us a child is born,
To us a Son is given,
And on His shoulder ever rests
All power on earth and heaven.
His name shall be the Prince of Peace
Forever more adored,
The Wonderful, the Counselor,
The great and mighty Lord.
His righteous government and power
Shall over all extend;
On judgment and on justice based,
His reign shall have no end.
The Methodist Hymnal, 361

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