Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ending 2013 and On to 2014

Here we are, in the final day of 2013, the first year of this century to have four unique digits (as was pointed out to me a year ago tomorrow). Last night, I re-read my post from the last day of 2012 for inspiration. In that post, I highlighted what had been that year’s best memory and best experience. 2013 did not have a single best memory or single best experience for me, but there were two overarching themes.

The first was the blessing of continuing to be part of the Wheaton College community. One particular highlight was the graduate class I took at Wheaton this summer, Theology of Education. It was an immensely refreshing two weeks of study and discussion with like-minded learners, and I was pleasantly surprised that the content had relevance not just to my work as a teacher, but also to my work in music ministry. In general, it has been great to just be on campus regularly, spending quality time with friends from my undergraduate years who are still there, as well as making new friends among the current generation of students. I could write an entire blog post about my experiences at Wheaton just this year, but suffice it to say I am so grateful it is still a major part of my life.

The second overarching theme was simple yet profound: the grace of God. It was on my mind so much more this year than I can ever remember. From re-reading my journal entries and Facebook statuses, and even just flipping back through my calendar, I see all the seasons that, but for the grace of God, would have been unbearably stressful. But none of them were! Instead, I now have many more stones of remembrance for God’s faithfulness to His promise to never leave me or forsake me. God’s grace was manifested to me in the people He has placed in my life: my parents, family, colleagues, and many, many friends, who are all so instrumental in shaping me and pointing me toward Christ. I would attempt a few shout-outs, but I know I would leave out many important people in every category but the first, so:

To Mom, Dad, and everyone else – thanks for being there this year!

Looking ahead, I really only have one New Year’s resolution. I want to read more books. I read plenty, of course, but the majority of my reading is articles and blogs, not full-length books. I want to shift a bit to a balance between the two lengths. I already have a few on my list, and recommendations are welcome!

However, my main resolution is what I resolve to do every day: to be faithful to God who appointed me to His service (1 Timothy 1:12), to seek the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:7) ,and to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). And to do all that by, and only by, the grace of God, for the glory of His Name.

May the grace of God be yours in overwhelming abundance in Two Thousand and Fourteen!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Grandpa Rubio

Earlier this week, my family gathered at Grandma Rubio's house to celebrate Christmas. During the course of our evening, Grandma exhibited something she had found in the midst of retrieving Christmas decorations earlier in the month (and the house cleaning that invariably accompanies it). It was a leather notepad folder that had belonged to her husband, my grandfather, who passed away some five years ago.

It contained assorted papers, some handwritten and others typewritten. They contained musings on news of the day, sketches of short stories, and reflections on Scripture. In the picture below, on the left is his reflections on the wealth of King Solomon, and on the right his reflections on passages in Acts and 1 John.

Grandpa Rubio was an exceptionally hard working and smart man. He immigrated to the United States with his younger siblings from Mexico, as head of the family after their parents died. He was a devoted husband and father. He was a small business owner, owning a tavern in Chicago for many years. After his "retirement," he worked part-time as a car salesman, volunteered at a food pantry, and took a few classes at the local community college -- he loved reading and studying (this love is one of the many things I remember the priest mentioning in his eulogy at the funeral). Many of Grandma's neighbors still remember Grandpa walking their dogs through the neighborhood and stopping to talk over fences. He loved a good story, a good laugh, and a good homemade meal, but always first for him were his faith and his family.

I am honored to have his first name, José, as my middle name (Joseph). I remember him often, and am grateful for the legacy of faithful prayer and Scripture reading, love for one's family, service to one's community, and a strong, honest work ethic that he passed down the generations.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 25

Wednesday, December 25 (Christmas Day)

Of the Father's Love Begotten
Text from the Latin poem Corde natus by Prudentius (c. 4th century)
Music is a medeaval plainchant

Performed by the Sons of Orpheus

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 24

Tuesday, December 24 (Christmas Eve)

The First Noel
Traditional English carol (c. 18th century), setting by John Stainer (1871)

Performed by Jackie Evancho

Monday, December 23, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 23

Monday, December 23

Born on a New Day
Words and Music by John David (1978)

Performed by the Cambridge Singers

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 22

Sunday, December 22 (The Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Go, Tell It on the Mountain
Words and Music compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr. (1865)

Performed by James Taylor

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 21

Saturday, December 21

Hodie Christus Natus Est
Text is the antiphon to the Magnificat (c. 16th century?)
Music by Francis Poulenc (1952)

Performed by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers

(Translation below video)

Hodie Christus natus est

Hodie Salvator apparuit
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli

laetantur Archangeli

Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes

Gloria in excelsis Deo

Today Christ is born

Today the Savior appeared:
Today on Earth the Angels sing,
Archangels rejoice:
Today the righteous rejoice, saying:
Glory to God in the highest


Friday, December 20, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 20

Friday, December 20

Joy Haw Dawned
Text and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend (2010)

Performed by Keith and Kristyn Getty

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 19

Thursday, December 19

Hope for Resolution
Text (adapted) and Music by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory

Performed by the Chicago Chamber Choir and Milwaukee Choral Artists (I apologize that this video was not able to be embedded)

Translation of the Zulu:

Thula Sizwe
Ujehova Wakho

Hush nation
Do not cry
Our God
Will protect us

Ujehova Wakho

We will get it
Our God
Will protect us

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 18

Wednesday, December 18

O Come, All Ye Faithful
Text is a Latin hymn translated by Frederick Oakeley et al. (1841)
Music (the hymn tune ADESTE FIDELES) from Cantus Diversi (1751)

Performed by Josh Groban

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 17

Tuesday, December 17

For Unto Us a Child Is Born
Text from Isaiah 9:6-7
Music by George Frederic Handel (1741)

Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Tenebrae Chorus, Sir Colin Davis, conducting

Monday, December 16, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 16

Monday, December 16

Angels from the Realms of Glory
Text by James Montgomery (1816)
Music (the hymn tune REGENT SQUARE) by Henry Smart (1867)

Performed by Annie Lennox

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 15

Sunday, December 15 (The Third Sunday of Advent/Gaudete Sunday)

Jesus, Born on This Day
Text and Music by Mariah Carey (2006)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 14

Saturday, December 14

Love Came Down at Christmas
Text by Christina Rossetti (1885)
Music is one of various traditional settings, adapted

Performed by Jars of Clay

Friday, December 13, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 13

Friday, December 13

What Child Is This?
Text by William Dix (1865)
Music is the traditional English folk tune "Greensleeves"

Performed by Andrea Bocelli

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 12

Thursday, December 12

O Holy Night
Text by John Sullivan Dwight (1855)
Music by Adolphe Adam (1847)

Performed by Michael Crawford

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 11

Wednesday, December 11

O Magnum Mysterium
Text from the Matins for Christmas
Music by Morten Lauridsen (1993)

Performed by the Westminster Cathedral Choir

(Translation below the video)

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 10

Tuesday, December 10

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Text from a fourth century Greek hymn based on Habakkuk 2:20, translated by Gerard Moultrie (19th century)
Music based on a French folk melody, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams (19th century)

Performed by Fernando Ortega

Monday, December 9, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 9

Monday, December 9

God Is With Us
Text adapted from the Orthodox Great Compline for Christmas
Music by John Tavener (1987)

Performed by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 8

Sunday, December 8 (The Second Sunday of Advent)

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Text by Charles Wesley (1739)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn (1840)

Performed by Jeremy Camp

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Musical Advent Calendar 2013 - Day 7

Saturday, December 7

Text from Pies Cantiones (1582)
Music by Michael Engelhardt (2007)

Performed by the Millikin University Women's Choir

(Translation below the video)

Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus

Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!

Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born

(Out) Of the Virgin Mary — rejoice!


Tempus adest gratiæ

Hoc quod optabamus,

Carmina lætitiæ

Devote reddamus.

The time of grace has come—

what we have wished for,

songs of joy

Let us give back faithfully.


Deus homo factus est

Natura mirante,

Mundus renovatus est

A Christo regnante.

God has become man,

To the wonderment of Nature,

The world has been renewed

By the reigning Christ.


Ezechielis porta

Clausa pertransitur,

Unde lux est orta

Salus invenitur.

The closed gate of Ezekiel

Is passed through,

Whence the light is born,

Salvation is found.


Ergo nostra contio

Psallat iam in lustro;

Benedicat Domino:

Salus Regi nostro.

Therefore let our gathering

Now sing in brightness

Let it give praise to the Lord:

Greeting to our King.