Category Archives: Ken Shearsmith’s Blog

Blog February 4thThe Poor Clares of Arundel

I think this is a lovely story that I thought I would share today. It comes from an article in Premier Christian News.
TV’s ‘This Morning’ host Holly Willoughby became emotional during a recent show after a pair of musical nuns shared a message of hope to all those struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. 
The nuns, from the Convent of Poor Clares in Arundel, West Sussex, released an album – Light of the World – which topped the classical charts last year. During the interview, one of nuns, Sister Gabriel, said they all come together as a group seven times a day to “pray for the world”. 
Then, in response to a question from host Phillip Schofield about what it is like to live in a solitary place of prayer, Sister Geraldine replied: “It’s not an easy decision to make at all. But imagine for yourself when you met the person that you loved, and you wanted to give your life to them…that’s not an easy decision to make.
“I think in every walk of life, whether we’re single or married or called to religious life, it’s an act of faith and trust…you’re placing yourself in the hands of somebody of else, and we’re all doing that somewhere. 
“Of course, it takes great courage and you have to believe somewhere that ultimately, it will work out and it will be ok.”
It was at this point that Willoughby began to cry. 
“When you listen to our CD, if you’re fed up or anxious or depressed. Just know that somewhere, in Arundel, there’s a community of women, and we’re here…we’re with you and we’re making the journey as well,” Sister Gabriel continued.
Willoughby started getting emotional again. 
“Some people just talk and they really get you, don’t they?” the presenter said through tears. “Sorry, it’s when somebody says that it’s all gonna be ok…it’s nice to hear, isn’t it?” 
I hope you have time to watch the powerful moment in todays video.
Quote of the week
At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.
Denzel Washington

Blog January 28th Mustard Seed Songs become a charity


Love is the Way featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album Love is the Way recorded and produced by Bob Ross

So here is my final reminiscence from seven years ago!
I left the last blog saying that this week I would tell you how many copies of our first CD “I Look Up To Heavens” was sold – well a few more than the 50 my son James predicted!- approximately 3000 which is not exactly a Grammy but still not bad. Later songs taken from other Mustard Seed CDs were used on 80,000 mini -CDs that were attached to the 40th Anniversary edition of “Every Day With Jesus” and then distributed worldwide, however that’s a future blog story!
I had borrowed money to pay for the duplication of the first 1000 copies of “I Look Up To The Heavens” but was selling more that we needed to cover the monthly repayments. I remember having “that feeling inside” that we should send Katherine Knight some money in Peru. Katherine was the daughter of Paul Knight who introduced me to the Alpha Course. Katherine had taken time off from her studies to work voluntarily in Peru for the Christian agency, ““Latin Link”. She was part of a young team that were helping build two projects, the first of which was an orphanage.
I rang Paul in February 1999 to tell him that CD sales were going well and that I would like to send Katherine £500.00 – in fact they were not going that well – I just felt confident that we would be able to raise that amount. Paul was obviously delighted and agreed to ring Katherine to tell her the good news. When he made the phone call, he did give her a chance to first say anything but went straight into “I have some great news for you- the sales of “I Look Up To the Heavens” are going well enough for Ken to send you £500.00.” Paul expected some sort of emotional reaction but not the flood of tears that followed. Katherine then explained that her team was near the end of their orphanage building project, but all of the materials they needed to complete the work had been stolen. The team were devastated and thought that they would have to abandon the project. In tears they spent the night in prayer. That had been the previous night – so when Paul told his daughter that £500.00 was on its way, that was indeed a real answer to their prayers, especially as when the money was converted to local currency it turned out to be the exact amount needed to replace the stolen materials and so finish the project!!
Sometime later I got a phone call from the father of one of Katherine’s “Latin Link” team saying that he had heard the amazing story of how money received from our CD sales had enabled the orphanage building work to be completed. He then went on to say that he was a Solicitor who specialised in creating charities and would I like our song writing mission to become a registered charity? “Yes please” was my simple answer. Mustard Seed Songs was not a rocket science title – the parable from Matthew 13 seemed totally appropriate for a project that we felt from a small beginning would grow and grow. So, in late 1999 Mustard Seed Songs became Registered Charity No 177618.
I remember someone once saying to me that they became a Christian “Because it works.” Reading the Bible, prayer, worship, being inspired by other people and attending church are all important factors in increasing one’s faith but so too are one’s experiences. By building Memorials and creating Festival Days the Hebrew people helped ensure that they did not forget the blessings of God. The story of how Mustard Seed Songs became a charity is one that I can always look back on to help me strengthen my faith.
Quote of the week
Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening – it just stops you from enjoying the good
Charlie Brown from Peanuts

Blog January 21st First Christian Songs


I Look Up To The Heavens featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album I Look Up To The Heavens recorded and produced by John Hodginson

So last week I said that would tell you how attending a worship seminar presented by Brian Doerksen, who wrote “More than Oxygen,” played at my baptism, influenced me to start writing Christian songs – here is the story….
Sometime in late 1997 I read in the Holy Rood Church notice sheet that there was a Worship Seminar to be held in Winchester, led by Brian Doerksen, I had that “feeling” inside that made me know that this was something I was meant to attend. Brian is from Canada so I knew the opportunities to attend one of his Seminars would be few and far between.
So, I went on my own to Winchester – which of course I knew pretty well having been to Teaching Training College there- to a church (now Winchester Family Church) housed in what had been a Cinema. I have to say I was not entirely comfortable with all the hand raising and that is about all I can remember from the evening apart from the important fact that I thought – “I wonder if my pop songs could become Christian songs – perhaps that is why it was intended that I came to this Worship Seminar? “
So, I went home and started “converting” the lyrics of my pop songs to Christian lyrics. For some songs this was relatively easy – only needing for example to change “Baby” to “Lord!” For others it was not so simple, for example “Don’t Lose Sight Of My Shore” became “Father Help Me Acknowledge You” taken from Psalm 139.
So, I went to see John Hodgkinson and told him that I wanted to do some recording again. He was fine about that – however I now had to tell him that the songs to be recorded were no longer straight pop songs, with a view to making us money, but Christian songs. For some reason I was embarrassed about this and so mumbled “John, the words have changed.” John replied “Why, the words are fine.” “Yes, John but now they are Chris………. words” I did not actually say the word Christian as I had my hand over my mouth so just a muffled “Chris …” came out. About three times this happened before John could hear the word “Christian.” “That’s fine” he reassured me – so there had been no need for me to be embarrassed at all.
Next thing was to find a singer. I am sure Louise Redknapp (spelt correctly this time) and Cole (see blog March 20th) would have sung it but I had just heard Lucy Stimpson sing at the School Prom Karaoke and knew that “she was the one.” So next day I ventured over to the Music Department armed with my cassette of “Don’t Lose Sight Of My Shore.” After hearing it Lucy said that she would love to record it but why as the previous recording was great. “Ah yes Lucy” I hesitantly explained “But the words have changed.” “Why, they are great words” insisted Lucy. “Thanks, but they are now “Chris……. words” I burbled with hand over mouth. After the regulation three “Chris’s …..” the word Christian came out to which Lucy replied “That’s great I am a Christian.” What no way -this was going too well – what about all the micky taking I was expecting?
I also found out that Lucy not only had a beautiful voice but also played piano brilliantly. Also, that she could play either by reading music or by ear – and as there was no way that I could ever produce written music Lucy being able to play by ear was just perfect!
So the first CD was born- “I Look Up To The Heavens.” The majority of songs being converted pop songs all recorded in John Hodge’s studio in his house. I remember “If Love Had Never Died” became “Jesus Is The Alphabet,” “No More Sad Songs” became “Let Us All Stand Up And Be Glad” and “Take My Look, Take My Touch, Take My Whisper” which I had made up to sing to my son Chris at bedtime became “Father Let Your Spirit Fall Upon Me.” “I had not made that song up when James, my other son was of an age to be sung to at bedtime – he had to put up with a version of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James.”
I remember giving my colleague, Neale, in the PE Department a cassette with some PE stuff on it not realising it also had a recording of “Father Help Me to Acknowledge You.” I remember him saying “What’s all this Father stuff I heard on that cassette you gave me?” I thought “Oh no here comes the micky taking big time” but no, Neale simply said “Well I liked it – anything I can do to help let me know.” And so he designed the artwork for our first three CDs and our Mustard Seed logo, created the first Mustard Seed Songs website and was I/C sound for many of our concerts.
When the recording of “I Look Up To The Heavens” was completed in 1999 Lucy, John, Neale and myself went to London to Hiltongrove Studios to have the CD mastered. We made a day of it picking up a West End Show- great times!
James, my son (who I have to say is now really supportive and gives good advice) said to me when we had 1000 CDs of “ I Look Up To The Heavens” reproduced -“Once all your aunties have bought a copy you won’t sell any more – I reckon 50 of those 1000 CDs will go at best. “
Well as we now know for once James was rather wrong !! Next week I will tell you how many copies of “I Look Up To The Heavens have been sold and also how Mustard Seed Songs became a registered charity – and that really is an amazing story!
Quote of the week
So, you never know who you touch. You never know how or when you’ll have an impact, or how important your example can be to someone else.
Denzel Washington

Blog January 14th Baptism


Harun Kotch playing bass for the Mustard Seed Soul Band

When You Walk With God featuring Harun Kotch from the album The Season of Singing recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So last week I said that I did not start writing Christian songs immediately I became a Christian – but that came after a full immersion baptism. So here is that story:
Many years previously I had attended the Alpha Course I had been invited by a member of my tutor group- Caroline Berridge, to attend her baptism by full immersion at Holy Rood Church. As she came out of the tank dripping wet in what appeared to be her pyjamas I thought to myself “She is very brave -there is no way you’d catch me doing anything like that – I would be much too embarrassed.” Well, not long after I became a Christian, I read in the church notice sheet that there was an opportunity for me to be baptised by full immersion. After a couple of quick enquires I discovered that you can’t be baptised twice. I thought “That’s a relief I have escaped” – you see I had already been baptised (Christened) as a baby. The trouble was shortly afterwards I found out that you can still re- affirm your infant baptism vows.
So, I got this feeling inside me that made me think that this was something I should do even if I didn’t fancy it. I thought that as there is safety in numbers, I would get others from my Alpha group to be baptised with me- the trouble was none of them wanted to. So, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant plan; I would go to the Holy Land and get baptised in the River Jordan just like Jesus. With this great plan I went to my mentor, Mr Mill’s dad Mr Milliken expecting him to be overjoyed with my idea. Oh no he was not overjoyed at all – Mr Milliken made it quite clear that I had to make a public testimony of my faith to my friends and family and in my local church. My mind flashed back to Caroline Berridge’s dunking – this was going to be so embarrassing but I could see no way out. So, I went to see the Vicar, Michael Christian- Edwards to tell him that I wished to reaffirm my baptism vows and that I was prepared (prepared but not happy) to give a testimony.
Holy Rood church was packed- I felt the water in the specially brought in tank – it felt less than tepid. I received encouragement from Mr Mill and his dad, who was going to be my special helper, ready with a towel for me when I emerged; giving what I was sure would be the appearance of a drowned rat.
I remember one of the Christian songs we sang was one written by Brian Doerksen “More than Oxygen” and this became significant a little later re the song writing
Anyway, before being “dunked” I had to give a testimony – I thought the best thing would be to tell how my fear of death had been taken away (or pretty much taken away) after I had become a Christian. Michael Christian- Edwards had pointed out to me that The Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus has freed all those who were held in slavery by the power of death- so I quoted this. I also talked about how one day I had gone on my own into Holy Rood after dark and a section of the beautiful stained- glass window at the far end was illuminated. The illuminated part was that of Jesus portrayed as the Good Shepherd. I remember staring at this image for some time and feeling really comforted. When I asked how the window had been illuminated no one really had an answer – a timing light was supposed to come on but that was to light the window to the outside – not inside. There may well be a logical explanation but I prefer to believe it was a blessing from God to reassure me that He would always look after me in the same way as a Shepherd looks after his sheep- even when I got lost or went astray.
After I gave my testimony (which was quite long) someone shouted out “Hallelujah” I remember feeling really chuffed about this – I know I probably should not have felt proud but I did.
So, on May 18th 1997 into the “tub” I went – I was taken backwards into the water by Michael Christian -Edwards. In the end I wasn’t in the least bit embarrassed, coming out drenched -in fact I was exhilarated – Mr Milliken was there with a towel and these words for me “So do not fear for I am with you be not dismayed for you are my God I will comfort you and help you I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” I later found this to be from the Book of Isaiah Chapter 42:11 These words have remained especially dear to me and when my wife Caroline was baptised in the sea in September 2011, I said the same words over her.
Anyway, other people said prayers out loud for me and I particularly remember Paul Knight, who had first invited me to the Alpha course pray that I would become a “Fisher of men.” I felt humbled and joyful – it was a wonderful, unforgettable experience.
Not long after I heard about a worship seminar being presented by Brian Doerksen – the writer of “More than Oxygen” played at the baptism- next week I will tell you how that influenced me to start writing Christian songs myself.
Quote of the week
Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss or dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt by the heart.
Denzel Washington

Blog January 7th Leap of Faith


If I Say I Love You Jesus featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Precious recorded and produced by Ross Gill.

So last week I left you with the question “Did I take a leap of faith”?”
So at the start of the Alpha Course I had been given a little red book entitled “Why Jesus?” (as featured in pic) At the end of the book there is a prayer so I knew an opportunity was coming up for me to take that leap of faith and to say this prayer asking Jesus to come into my life. I felt it really difficult to sleep with my two “problems” (see last week’s blog) constantly churning around inside my head. The weekend came when I knew I had to make a decision – as part of the Alpha Course I was at the Holy Rood Vicarage with the Vicar, Michael Christian- Edwards and his lovely wife Merlyn. When the others in my group were having a coffee break, I escaped into the village to go through in my head what I was going to do. On my return sure enough Michael gave everyone the opportunity to say a prayer asking Jesus to forgive us for all the things we had done wrong – to ask Him to come into our lives- and for us to be filled with His Holy Spirit. I remember asking Michael if I could say the prayer twice. He seemed surprised but said that was fine and so that lunchtime on Saturday, February 22nd 1997 I asked Jesus into my life and became a Christian.
Why did I want to say the prayer twice? Well, there was Mr Mill and his dad that I also wanted to be there on such a momentous occasion. So that evening in Mr Mil’s apartment in Titchfield I sat between the two of them confessing out loud all the things I had done wrong and again asking Jesus into my life. Some of the things I had done wrong were pretty big – one had been a real burden for many years but after I had confessed it the burden lifted- I know that sounds amazing and too good to be true, but amazing is what it was and too good not to be true!
So, I thought “micky taking” here you come, but I decided to be pro-active and tell people before they found out through the grapevine. First off was Barry who I had known the longest -he was surprisingly supportive – so too was Ian – but I could not tell Dave, it was Dave who had made the comment about Mick Mellows (see last week’s blog) – he was sure to let me have it with both barrels. A couple of months later Barry and Ian told me that Dave was really upset with me for not telling him. So, I took Dave out for a curry (of course) and felt pretty emotional when Dave told me that he loved me (in a bloke way!!) and that he would always support me in anything I did and that he was upset because it seemed that I did not believe I could trust him. So big apology from me and really all the worries about people “taking the mick” turned out to be groundless- mind you I think my two sons James and Chris took a bit of stick at school.
So did my fears of dying die (sorry for pun) If I am honest not entirely – but I did have God’s promise to hold on to and you can’t have much more than that. In fact, later I wrote a song called “It’s From the Lord” which is on our CD “Heart and Soul” – the last verse of which is “When your time on earth is ending and you look up to Him on high and your see His promises sparkling spelt out in stars across the sky and open arms reach to embrace you to welcome you home then you know, yes you know it is the Lord.”
I also wrote a song which was a sort of autobiography of me becoming a Christian and being worried about what people would think – this one is on the CD “Precious” and is called “If I Say I Love You Jesus.” I did actually once sing it live myself at a Mustard Seed Concert but here it is sung by the fantastic Lucy Stimpson-Maynard.
But I did not start writing Christian songs immediately I became a Christian – that came after a full immersion baptism which I will tell you about next week.
Quote of the week
Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny
C.S. Lewis

Blog December 31st New Years Eve


There’s Going To Be A Party featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “Uplifted” recorded and produced by Bob Ross.

So last blog I told you that I did reluctantly go on an Alpha Course. I was greeted by a smiling person (obviously a “Do Gooder” I thought) and presented with a badge with my name on it. I expected everyone to be wearing Jesus sandals and when I saw that someone actually was, I decided to beat a hasty retreat. My friend, Paul Hiscock had been trapped by the Vicar so no help there – but then I smelt the curry. Now curry is my staple diet so I decided to delay by escape until after I had sampled the curry.
During the Chicken Korma I spoke to a lovely lady called Margaret who asked me what I was doing there and when I had difficulty in answering, reassured me that she too was unsure why she was there.
Tasty curry over – perhaps I should give the Vicar a chance? He looked a pretty cool guy and was not wearing a dog collar – not that I had a problem with that – So here we go to the ice -cold pews for a boring sermon on Christ dying for my sins just like my past experiences as a choir boy. Actually, no not at all! We went upstairs in the Church Centre to a warm and pleasant room with sofas – all rather nice and relaxing. The Vicar, Michael Christian- Edwards (appropriate name I thought) who has also become a dear friend started off with a joke and quite a good one at that – the laughter relaxed everyone and then Michael talked about whether or not Jesus really did exist. I really enjoyed the talk and even more the opportunity to ask questions afterwards- which I did in abundance. What about this and what about that – Michael answered all my questions with patience and great knowledge. I went home thinking I wonder? But there was no way really that I could ever become a Christian – what would my mates say? I would be a laughing stock – “Jesus Freak” and “Bible Basher.” However, I went back the next week and then the next and then the next and then I began to think that I wanted to become a Christian – I felt reassured by the words in John’s Gospel, Chapter 3 verse 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” Eternal Life – that is what I needed to take away my fear of death. Not something to be earned but something to be accepted as a gift. Perfect – apart from two problems 1) did I have enough faith to accept Jesus” gift” with any degree of sincerity? 2) If I did ask Jesus into my life what would my mates say- how much ridicule would I have to endure? Let me have a look at problem no 2 first.
Three of my very special friends are Barry Stares, Dave Conchie and Ian Beacham. Barry I have known since Junior School and Dave and Ian since PE College. We regularly meet for a drink and something to eat (yes curry) At one curry Ian said “You will never guess what’s happened to Mick” He was referring to another ex-PE College friend, Mick Mellows who played football for Pompey and who is now a Director of the charity Faith and Football -www.faith&football.org.uk . I thought Ian meant that Mick had been struck down with some horrible illness but no that is not what he meant at all. He continued “He’s only gone and become a Christian!” To which Dave replied “No – and he was such a good bloke!”
Could I face that sort of comment if I “admitted” to becoming a Christian? I really doubted it.
As for problem no 1 re did I have enough faith? – Well thankfully someone told me I only had to have faith as small as a mustard seed (the smallest of all seeds in Biblical times.) I simply had to focus on what I believed not on what I did not – simply had to trust – simply had to take a “leap of faith” Did I take that leap – I’ll tell you next week.
The webmaster, me and all at Mustard Seed Songs wish you a
Happy New Year
Quote of the week
Let God’s promises shine on your problems
Corrie ten Boom

Blog December 24th The Eve of Christmas Eve


“In The Beginning Was The Word” featuring the Lord is Truth Gospel Choir from the stage production “His Story” – recording by Ross Gill but not published.

So, on Monday of this week Jupiter and Saturn lined up and appeared as one bright shining star for the first time in 800 years, and won’t occur again until 2080. Many refer to it as the Christmas Star. It’s also known as the Star of Bethlehem, which guided the wise men to the birth of Christ. How amazing!
I am writing this blog on the Eve of Christmas Eve- a day that will always be special for me. In March 2014 I wrote why in a blog some extracts of which I have taken below:
Bob Milliken, the Head of RE at my school, Crofton, where I was Head of PE, invited me to go to his church in Paulsgrove. As it was a Christmas Service, I thought I would go and sing a few Carols and that would appease him. So, I went with my son Chris assuring him that we would only have to sing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” listen to a sermon on the Wise Men and then we could come home. So, you can imagine my shock when the Pastor (it was a Baptist Church) started talking, not about The Wise Men, but about death (at that time I was very frightened about what happens after you die) So he got my undivided attention and it seemed like I was the only person in the church and so the only one the Pastor was talking to. At the end of the service Bob introduced me to an old gentleman who had been sitting to my left – his dad. Bob went off to talk to someone and I chatted to his dad, obviously also called Mr Milliken. Mr Milliken told me that he had been a Missionary in the Belgium Congo and that he and his wife had evangelised the natives by singing hymns to them around camp fires; his wife playing a squeeze box. I knew that his wife, Bob’s mum, had died about two years previously and I found myself asking “Oh is she in heaven now then – singing to the natives?” Mr Milliken replied, not with a “God willing” or “That’s a nice thought” – he simply replied with one word and it was the one word that began to change my life – “Yes”
So, I was knocked out with the simplicity and absolute belief that Mr Milliken (Mr Mill’s dad) had that his wife was in heaven. I took Mr Milliken back to his sheltered accommodation in Titchfield, and listened with my son in awe to his stories of being a missionary in the Belgium Congo.
The next day I rang Mr Mill to say how amazing I thought his dad was. I told Mr Mill that I felt I wanted to go to Midnight Mass that evening and asked if he would he come with me. Mr Mill said that his church did not do Midnight Mass but that he would go with me to the church near Crofton School – Holy Rood.
Now most Christmas Eves I would be down the local pubs to have a few beers with ex- students so I was rather embarrassed about missing out the Red Lion and going “next door.” However, I thought it would be worth it as the heavens would, no doubt, open up for me and I would experience something “spiritual.” However, nothing ”spiritual” happened but at the end of the service a member of Crofton School’s Senior Leadership, Paul Knight, told me he was doing an Alpha Course (an introductory course on Christianity) and would I like to go. I thought “No Way!” Paul is now a dear friend, but at that time he was simply a member of the Senior Leadership Team so there was no chance of me going to an Alpha Course led by him.
Well in fact I did go on the Alpha Course but more of that next week, but in the meantime from the webmaster, me and all at Mustard Seed Songs
HAPPY CHRISTMAS

Quote of the week
The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men might become sons of God
The Word for Today

Blog December 17th The First Gift

There’s More Than One Way featuring Lucy Stimpson-Mayard from the album “Uplifted” recorded and produced by Bob Ross.

I was sent the “First Gift” video this week and enjoyed it so much that I thought I would share it with you today.
Quote of the week The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Nelson Mandela.

Blog December 10th Advent


Love is the Way featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Love is the Way recorded and produced by Bob Ross.

Advent began 12 days ago but what is it? Again, I have done some research, the results of which are below:
BLOGBIBLE TRIVIA
For many, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.
By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
Most Advent calendars start on December 1. But the actual first day of the Advent season changes every year. In 2020, that day is November 29. In 2021, it will be November 28. The final day is the same every year: December 24, Christmas Eve — though many calendars run through Christmas Day.
The reason for the shifting start date is somewhat straightforward. As celebrated by Christian churches in the Western tradition (as opposed to Eastern Orthodox churches, which keep a different calendar), the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and is celebrated on each successive Sunday leading up to Christmas.
There are always four Sundays during Advent prior to Christmas, but Christmas could be any day of the week — which means the distance between the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Day varies. So, the length of the season shifts from year to year: In 2016, Christmas fell on a Sunday, which means the season stretched over a total of 28 days. Last year, it was 24 days long. This year, it’s 26 days long.
Quote of the week
Perfect love drives out fear
I John 1:18

Blog December 3rd “When a Child is Born”

Last week I shared a video of the Little Drummer Boy”- which I believe is regarded as not just a Christmas song, but as a Christmas carol. Apparently, the difference is that Christmas carols have Christian lyrics, while Christmas songs are secular.

I remember Crofton School Carol Services being held at Holy Rood and a favourite carol being “When a Child is Born.”

Here is some more information about this beautiful song which I hope you enjoy listening to via the video clip.

The original melody of “When a Child is Born” is “Soleado“, a tune from 1974 by Ciro Dammicco (alias Zacar), composer for Italy’s Daniel Sentacruz Ensemble, and Dario Baldan Bembo. The tune was based on Damicco’s earlier tune “Le rose blu” published in 1972. The English language lyrics were written a few years later by Fred Jay (Friedrich Alex Jacobson  who wrote many hits for Boney M, such as Rasputin and Ma Baker). Fred Jay’s lyrics have been sung by many artists, most successfully by Johnny Mathis in 1976, whose version was the Christmas number one in the UK.

Just out of interest you might like to know that Johnny Mathis is still alive aged 85 and that he was a star athlete at George Washington High School in San Francisco. He was a high jumper and hurdler, and he played on the basketball team. In 1954, he enrolled at San Francisco State College on an athletic scholarship, intending to become an English teacher and a physical education teacher. While there, Mathis set a high-jump record of 6′-5 1/2″ [1.97 m]. This is still one of the college’s top jump heights and was only 7 cm [two inches] short of the 1952 Olympic record of 2.04 m at the time.

Quote for the week

Whoever loves money never has money enough

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Steven Furtick