Mortals Awake

Mortals Awake

What kind of music do you like? Who is your favorite singer? Do you like bluegrass or country western? Jazz? Rock and Pop? Classical? Elvis?

From solo vocal and choral music to every instrumental possibility—can you say “Mannheim Steamroller”? —there is a Christmas album. Or a Christmas concert!

Christmas Music Everywhere

And Christmas music is everywhere—office buildings, shopping malls, schools, sporting venues, public transportation. Not to mention media and downloaded music on our personal technological devices.

Don’t forget children’s programs at schools or pageants at churches, high school and college choirs or community musical groups. Check your calendar; which Christmas program is today?

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

After all, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Well, isn’t it! When do we more want to be with family and friends, exchanging gifts and good will? What time has more poignant memories—pleasant and unpleasant? When do we put up more decorations and have more parties? What season is more important for business and commerce?

You know the reason for the season. Except, perhaps, for Easter, when are believers more likely to gather in church for worship?

Yes, we love Christmas and our Christmas music. But, have we not totally mixed the sacred and secular?

Isaac Watts

Everybody knows the great hymn, “Joy to the World!” Did you know it was written almost 300 years ago by the great English poet and hymnwriter Isaac Watts (1674-1748)?

Watts wrote hundreds of hymns which are still popular today, such as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Consider this following poem as a challenge from Watts to rethink our Christmas priorities.

Mortals Awake

(stanzas 1-3)

“Mortals, awake, with angels join,
And chant the solemn lay;
Joy, love and gratitude combine
To hail th’auspicious day.

In heaven the rapturous song began,
And sweet seraphic fire
Through all the shining legions ran,
And strung and tuned the lyre.

Swift through the vast expanse it flew,
And loud the echo rolled;
The theme, the song, the joy was new,
‘Twas more than heaven could hold.

(stanzas 4-6)

Down through the portals of the sky
Th’impetuous torrent ran;
And angels flew, with eager joy
To bear the news to man.

Wrapt in the silence of the night
Lay all the eastern world,
When bursting, glorious heavenly light
The wondrous scene unfurl’d.

Hark! the cherubic armies shout,
And glory leads the song;
Goodwill and peace are heard throughout
The harmonious heavenly throng.

(stanzas 7-9)

O for a glance of heavenly love
Our hearts and songs to raise,
Sweetly to bear our souls above,
And mingle with their lays!

Was joy the chorus we’ll repeat,
‘Glory to God on high!
Goodwill and peace are now complete;
Jesus was born to die.’

Hail, prince of life! Forever hail,
Redeemer, brother, friend!
Though earth, and time, and life should fail
Thy praise shall never end.”


...“And heaven and nature sing.”

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About the Author Larry Frazier

Larry spent 24 years teaching music at the University of West Georgia to over 6,000 students. Ten years ago, Larry and his wife Mary Lynn, received comfort, support and inspiration from traditional Christian hymns while she overcame stage-three colon cancer. Larry is on a mission to help you discover God’s incredible power through the intersection of faith and Christian music in your life.