Posts tagged Christmastide (11)
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Anonymous (English)
Christmastide
Anglo-Saxon Britain (410-1066)
His Bright Nativity
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf wonders at the mystery of the Bethlehem manger, where all the light of heaven was shining.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

O EÄRENDEL! Brightest messenger sent to men of middle-earth, radiance of the Sun, steadfast and true, outshining the stars, ceaselessly lighting from thyself the ebb and flow of all things!

Shine thy bright Sun upon us, come thyself and light us, who have sat in darkness, in gloom of endless night, these long years, wrapped in sin, enduring the dark shadow of death.

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No. 1
Albert Ketèlbey
Poets and Poetry
Ring out the Old, Ring in the New
For Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Christmas was a time to let the dead past bury its dead.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

RING out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

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No. 2
William Byrd
Poets and Poetry
Christmas Bells
The sounds of an English country Christmas helped Tennyson in his deep mourning for an old friend.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

THE time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

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No. 3
Johann Baptist Cramer
Lives of the Saints
Aaron’s Rod
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

GOD bade Moses, the leader, take twelve dry rods from the twelve tribes of the people of Israel, and lay them before the holy ark within the great tabernacle: and he would by those rods declare whom he had chosen for bishop.

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No. 4
2 two-part story
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Lives of the Saints
How St Euphemia Saved Christmas
The martyr St Euphemia played a vital role in preventing the message of Christmas from being watered down.

IN 428, Nestorius, the new Patriarch of Constantinople, delivered his first Christmas sermons amid controversy.

For generations, Christians had wonderingly acclaimed Mary as ‘Theotokos’, God’s birth-giver, but some in the capital now protested that it was an offence to God’s dignity. How could the Almighty undergo physical birth, or have a mother?

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No. 5
2 two-part story
York Bowen
Tales from the Bible
The Adoration of the Magi
Persian star-gazers hasten to Israel for the birth of a royal heir, but find that King Herod has had his fill of them.

NOT long before King Herod died, astrologers from Persia agreed that an unusual star announced the birth of a Jewish prince. A group of them set off for Jerusalem, no doubt expecting to find Herod’s palace in celebration.

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No. 6
John Field
Lives of the Saints
The Martyrdom of St Stephen
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.

GAMALIEL, one of the most respected teachers in Jerusalem, was a moderate. But his pupil Saul became a firebrand, dedicated to purifying Judaism of Greco-Roman culture and especially of the Christians, who had already seduced a Greek-culture Jew named Stephen.

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No. 7
Franz Liszt
Modern History
Queen Charlotte’s Christmas Tree
Cromwell’s killjoys almost silenced the English Christmas, but thanks to a royal family tradition the message is still being proclaimed.

IN 1800, King George III’s German-born wife, Charlotte, set up a decorated Christmas tree at a children’s party.

Her grand-daughter Queen Victoria recalled that a candle-lit tree, hung with sugar ornaments, subsequently became a feature of the royal family’s Christmas.

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No. 8
John Playford
Christian Customs
King George I (1714-1727)
The Return of Plum Pudding
The Puritans said it was unfit for God-fearing men, but George I thought it fit for a King.

RICH and luxurious plum pudding was banned as “unfit for God-fearing people” by the republican Puritans in 1647, prompting riots in Kent.

Christmas celebrations returned with Charles II in 1660, and in 1714 King George I requested plum pudding for his first Christmas in England, making it fashionable once again.

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No. 9
George Frideric Handel
Classical History
The Season of ‘Goodwill’
‘Goodwill’ was on everyone’s lips, but the Roman Emperor and the God of Israel had very different ideas about it.

SHORTLY before the death of Herod the Great, the Roman Emperor Augustus invited all the loyal inhabitants of the Empire to sign an ‘assurance of goodwill’ toward him and his government. This poll later inspired his fulsome Senate to declare him the ‘Father of Rome’.

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No. 10
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Polywords (185)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
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Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
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A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
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Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
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Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
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Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
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A word search game with a dash of strategy.

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1804 A steam locomotive built by Richard Trevithick makes the first return railway journey
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Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
It’s hard when messed-up people treat you badly, but if you take it personally it only makes it worse.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens sketches for us the shyly ingratiating youth who gets himself in a tangle in the presence of Beauty.
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William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.

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Polyword ‘Truly, Madly’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘stout’ (6 letters), and ‘gloat’ (4 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with DOOR and finish with STEP.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.