HOME ABOUT US SITE MAP PARTNERS ARCHIVES SERVICES VOLUNTEERS SOCIAL MEDIA

Archives: Carols with Justice

Archives: Carols with Justice


What Does Jesus Want for Christmas? (accompanying pageant) | Podcast Series, Episodes 6-11
Whose Birthday? #17 CD | Media Release


Buy

Jill Miller, vocalist, on YouTube

Carols Sing-Along

These new stanzas help to connect Jesus' birth with our lives through social justice, care of Creation, and discipleship as simpler living.

Carols with Justice

Table of Contents


Introduction to this collection

The following texts are for your personal inspiration.

The booklet contains words and music. You need at least one copy for your accompanist/song leader.

For a Christmas pageant based on these carols, see "What Does Jesus Want for Christmas." Both the carol booklet and the pageant come in the Christmas Campaign Kit or by themselves.

These texts also come on the CD-ROM "Simply the Best: 30 Years of Alternatives."

You may not sell these texts in any form. Thanks for your cooperation.

Return to Table of Contents

 

Hints on formatting these texts for your use.

  1. We print them in Palatino; body text is 12 point. Depending on your audience and publication format, you may want to change the font or the size.
  2. All of the texts and music go together, though a few do not flow perfectly. If you have questions about how they go together, get a copy of the collection on paper, at least for yourself and your musicians.
  3. This file is text only. If you want the graphics or music, order a copy on paper.
  4. The text is arranged here in the same order as the booklet. You may want to rearrange the non-musical portion. It is now: front cover, table of contents, Introduction, How to Use This Resource, carols, Alternatives' resources, Statement on Biblical Justice, back cover.
  5. You may eliminate stanzas from the carols. You may add your own. Please do not change the stanzas. Credit the authors for the stanzas that you use.
  6. You may use or not use the non-musical portions, such as the Introduction or the Statement on Biblical Justice. You may choose to write your own version, as long as it is in the same spirit as this booklet. Creative Commons reprint license does not allow you to use any of the texts in the booklet in a spirit contrary to its obvious original intent.
  7. If any portions of this booklet are used in an article or editorial, please send us a copy, including the name and date of the source.
  8. Please make any copies on recycled paper. If that is not possible, remove the "recycled paper" notices at the end of the Introduction and the back cover.

Return to Table of Contents

 

Why Carols with Justice

Jesus' birth has taken on much cultural significance as a celebration of good will, warm feelings and excessive consumerism. These new stanzas help to connect his birth with our lives. They appeal for social justice, care of Creation, and discipleship through simpler living.

Return to Table of Contents

 

List of Carols

  1. Angels We Have Heard on High
  2. Away in a Manger
  3. Go Tell it on the Mountain
  4. Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful
  5. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  6. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen
  7. Angels, from the Realms of Glory
  8. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  9. Once in Royal David's City
  10. Silent Night, Holy Night!
  11. What Child Is This
  12. Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel
  13. The First Noel
  14. Deck the Halls
  15. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

 

©Creative Commons
(originally ©2000 Alternatives for Simple Living)
Cover art: C. I. Publishing, Inc.

Collection compiled, edited and prepared by Gerald and Peter Iversen.

Funded in part by New Road Map Foundation - www.NewRoadMap.org.

Return to Table of Contents

 

Introduction to the Carols

Through these new stanzas for familiar Christmas Carols, we hope to help Christians everywhere recognize and respond to the great theme of justice that runs through the Bible.

The accompanying statement on Biblical Justice could be a starting point for further reflection, study and action. It is meant to stimulate composers' (and others') creativity. This hymn search looked for powerful and clear symbols of justice, not for esoteric ideas or images. We sought texts that focus on God's passionate love for the poor, and on appropriate action on behalf of the poor through economic justice, including, but not limited to, voluntary simplicity.

The first principle of voluntary simplicity, "Do justice," is a matter of personal and collective responsibility, of lifestyle integrity, of loving God and neighbor. It does not allow us to hold economic, racial or environmental problems at arms length... out there... over there. Our hymns, as well as our actions, must not be guilt offerings that allow us to go our pious way, leaving things as they are. When we recognize that THEIR problem is related to OUR problem, we make changes in our own lives and in our world that God's love requires. For example, Third World poverty and hunger are amplified by our own over consumption and waste. Change starts with us.

Additional contributions are welcome. They may be posted on this website.

ALTERNATIVES for Simple Living, 1973-2011
Gerald Iversen, National Coordinator, 1995-2007
Founder, 2011, Simple Living Works!
Life Member, Hymn Society in the U.S. & Canada

Simple Living Works! continues the spirit and mission of Alternatives -- "Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly"

SimpleLivingWorks.org

Please use recycled paper.

Return to Table of Contents

 

How to Use this Resource

1. Use this collection without introduction in the car, during group caroling in your home or nursing homes, at church, etc. Some folks may say, "Golly, I don't remember that verse." This may be a teachable moment.

2. Make copies for your church, Sunday School, choir or organization and schedule them throughout Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. The booklet includes the music for accompaniment or singing in parts.

3. Copy the ones you choose into your newsletter, bulletin or worship folder, holiday cards and letters. To the best of our knowledge, the tunes, first stanzas and musical arrangements are in the Public Domain.

To save you time, format your publications electronically - copy and paste from this website.

All uses of these new texts require credit to the authors.   See the footnotes below each carol for the authors names. Also, please use the following: ¬©Creative Commons. Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org.

4. Give this collection selectively as a gift to pastors, musicians and people interested in social justice and open to others' ideas. We do not recommend giving it as a political statement to everyone on your list.

5. If some of your favorite carols are missing here, devise some stanzas and send them to us.

Return to Table of Contents


Carols

The Carols Themselves

Angels We Have Heard on High

1  Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains.  Refrain

Refrain: Gloria in excelsis Deo;
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

2  It is shepherds, poor and meek,
Chosen first the news to tell.
Give us hearts, O God, to seek
In each face Emmanuel.  Refrain

3  Born of God's own love divine,
We will feed the poorest one. 
Christ brings peace to humankind.
Loving justice shall be done!  Refrain
 

Verse 1:  French Carol
Verse 2:  John Becker
Verse 3:  Cynthia A. Douglas

Return to Table of Contents

Away in a Manger

1  Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
 

2  To lowliest manger, where animals feed,
Comes Jesus, redeemer of all human need.
May we bear the Christ Child to all whom we meet
By living God's justice and washing their feet.
 

3  Teach all the world leaders there's no room for hate.
Peace, love, and compassion will justice create.
Let kindness and fairness for all folk prevail.
Our care for each other shows God's love is real.
 

4  When children are crying and mothers distressed,
Because those in power with greed are obsessed,
We seek to find justice, compassion for them
Because of Christ Jesus born in Bethlehem!
 

5  The Lord asks for justice and I nod my head,
But here we're not hungry; no tears will I shed.
Here I am laughing and feasting in peace,
Both near and far starvations increase. 
 

6  We want to be gentle like this little one
Who sleeps in the manger, God's own precious son.
We ask the Lord's blessing that we may do right
To those all around us and those not in sight.
 

7  No crib for the baby, no room in the inn,
No room in our hearts to let Your love in.
We ask You to open us up every day
To those who have hurt us that we've pushed away.
 

Verse 1:  Traditional
Verse 2:  John Becker
Verse 3:  Cynthia A. Douglas
Verse 4:  Rae E. Whitney
Verse 5:  Kristin Reimer
Verses 6 & 7:  Tom Davis

Return to Table of Contents

 

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Refrain:  Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain That Jesus Christ is born.

1  When I was a sinner, I sought both night and day.
I asked the Lord to help me And he showed me the way.  Refrain
 

2  Now I've a message for you. In answer to God's call
Be fair and just to each one; The Lord God made us all.  Refrain
 

3  Where hungry folk are weeping, Where those in prison cry,
Go tell them help is coming, Else why did Jesus die?  Refrain
 

Verse 1:  Spiritual
Verse 2:  Cynthia A. Douglas
Verse 3:  Rae E. Whitney

Return to Table of Contents

 

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful

1  Oh, come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
Oh come ye, Oh, come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the king of angels;
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

2  Then go, you who love him,
Into every nation
Teaching his word of love to all humankind
Feeding the hungry,
Fighting for the lowly.
Oh, come, let us obey him,
Oh, come, let us obey him,
Oh, come, let us obey him, Christ the Lord.
 

Verse 1:  attr. John F. Wade, c. 1711-1786
Verse 2:  Cynthia A. Douglas

Return to Table of Contents

 

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

1  It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the Earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the Earth, good will to all,
From heaven's all gracious King"
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
 

2  Creator God, the Holy One,
With stars you spangled space;
And on this planet Earth brought forth
A rare and wondrous place.
Rejoice we now in your good works,
In seas and lands and air,
In rich diversity of life
Entrusted to our care.
 

3  O humble God, in Jesus born,
You know our human stress:
You felt our pains, you cried our tears,
You lived our loneliness.
May we know you in all who hurt,
In strangers 'round our Earth;
Exploited lives; and those who ache
For food, a home, selfworth.
 

4  O Breath of Life, in Spirit come,
Bear fruit in us anew;
Forgive our wrongs, reshape our lives,
Make firm our trust in you.
In simple ways, let all our days
Point gently to your will;
And turn our hearts to human need
Where you are dwelling still.
 

5  Shall we go out to greet the Christ,
Or wait in heart and home?
Shall we go out to seek the Christ
However Christ might come?
Shall we search out the holy one,
God's prophesied surprise?
Where will it be when God in flesh
Appears before our eyes?
 

6  It may not be in royal garb
That God confronts our day.
God's presence may be found in those
From whom we turn away.
God may not come with tongue we know,
Or come with tongue at all.
How will we tune our hearts to hear
The voice with which God calls?
 

7  It may not be as trumpet sound
Resounding 'cross the skies,
But in the form of fallen ones
From whom we turn our eyes:
The stranger standing at our door,
The child unclothed, ill fed.
God once again appears in flesh
Without a roof or bed.
 

8  Will we go out to seek the Christ
To find God manifest
Within all people south and north,
In children east and west?
Yet in our search to find God's gift
Amid the clam'ring din,
Will we acknowledge God in us,
The Christ who dwells within?
 

Verse 1:  E. H. Sears, 1846
Verses 2-4:  Thomas N. Townsend
Verses 5-8:  Densley H. Palmer

Return to Table of Contents

 

God Rest You Merry Gentlemen

1  God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.
 

2  Now he is come to all the world,
This lesson to impart:
If we're to show his love there must
Be action on our part
To feed the poor, protect the weak,
Show kindness from the heart,
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

3  Let justice like a beacon glow
In every willing heart
To shine a path of righteousness
Where greed or envy start,
That knowledge and forgiveness might
Illuminate the dark.
Hear our prayer, Lord of all things right and good, right and good.
Hear our prayer, Lord of all things right and good.
 

4  Divest, you merry gentlemen,
Your military schemes.
Return your cash back to the poor,
Fulfill the children's dreams
That those who claim the name of Christ
Shall live where justice gleams.
O tidings of justice and rights, human rights,
O tidings of justice and rights!
 

5  God rest you weary laborers,
You need a living wage
And fact'ries healthy, safe and clean
And just eight hour days
To save us all from corporate power
And values gone astray.
O tidings of justice and rights, human rights,
O tidings of justice and rights!
 

Verse 1:  Traditional
Verse 2:  Cynthia A. Douglas
Verse 3:  Susan Gardstrom
Verse 4:  Rod Reinhart
Verse 5:  Jeff Borg,  Denver Justice and Peace Committee

Return to Table of Contents

 

Angels, from the Realms of Glory

1  Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the Earth;
Once you sang Creation's story;
Now proclaim Messiah's birth:  Refrain
 

Refrain: Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ the new born king.
 

2  Fill your hearts with simple pleasures. 
Let the Savior's joy and peace 
Be your only sought for treasures.
See your trust and faith increase.  Refrain
 

Verse 1:  James Montgomery
Verse 2:  Edward Blumenfeld

Return to Table of Contents

 

O Little Town of Bethlehem

1  O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie,
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light,
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

 

2  When lives of humble service preach
The Good News to the poor,
When troubled minds or bodies find
A welcome at our door,
When healing hearts and hands lift
The lowly from the dust,
Then ring the bells and sing Noels:
For Christ is born in us.

 

3  No longer dreamless, Bethlehem,
You bear the wounds of war;
Can words of peace make conflict cease,
When freedom is no more?
No! Therefore work for justice,
Let swords thrust none apart.
When all are free, the world may see
Christ born in every heart!

 

4  Teach us to live the trusting life,
To act with humbleness;
To rid our souls of pride and hate,
In all things thee to bless;
Make us in thine own image,
To serve our human race,
Fair stewards of the priceless things,
True justice, hope and grace.

 

5  Make us content with simple joys,
Free us from willful waste,
No longer ruled by avarice,
Slaves to a worthless taste,
Give minds and hearts to seek
No treasures but from thee,
And share with us a boundless faith
Displayed in charity.

 

Verse 1:  Phillips Brooks, 1868
Verse 2:  John Becker
Verse 3:  Rae E. Whitney
Verses 4 & 5:  Edward Blumenfeld

Return to Table of Contents

 

Once in Royal David's City

1  Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.
 

2  Christ, who once was Mary's baby,
Loves each child upon this Earth,
And desires that truth and justice
Welcome ev'ry human birth.
We who pledge to follow him,
Make our lives a Bethlehem.
 

Verse 1:  Cecil F. Alexander, 1813-1895
Verse 2:  Rae E. Whitney

Return to Table of Contents

 

Silent Night, Holy Night!

1  Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
'Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
 

2  Silent night, holy night!
When will peace conquer might?
Pray that justice will set victims free,
Those who are shackled to bleak poverty.
Christ be born in each heart,
Christ be born in each heart.
 

Verse 1:  Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848
Verse 2:  Rae E. Whitney

Return to Table of Contents

 

What Child is This

1  What child is this, who laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the king,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

2  Our God arrives in humble guise
As baby born of woman,
That we might see the dignity
Enfleshed in every human.
This, this is Christ the king,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.
 

3  What child is this in every land
Who cries when food is lacking,
Whose parents mourn their newly born,
Whom sickness is attacking?
When will injustice cease,
When will the nations live at peace?
When all have learned from him,
The babe, the son of Mary.
 

4  No home, no home to lay his head,
He has a feed bin for his bed.
The foxes have their holes, he'll say
But the Son of Man has none
First to hear the world's good news
Were migrant workers of that day,
Common shepherds to hail our king,
The weak and beautiful baby.

 

Verse 1:  William C. Dix, 1837-1898
Verse 2:  John Becker
Verse 3:  Rae E. Whitney
Verse 4:  Tom Davis

Return to Table of Contents

 

Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel

1  Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That moans to lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!

 

2  Oh, come, dear Lord, with mercy and grace,
Make strong the weak and heal the human race,
The hungry feed, the needy clothe
That by example we will learn to love.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!

 

Verse 1:  12th century Latin
Verse 2:  Cynthia A. Douglas

Return to Table of Contents

 

The First Noel

1  The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel! Born is the King of Israel.
 

2  As we bring gifts, like ancient kings,
Our acts of peace are offerings.
So, as we honor Jesus' birth,
We pledge to care for all the Earth.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel! Born is the King of Israel.
 

Verse 1:  Traditional
Verse 2:  Rae E. Whitney

Return to Table of Contents

 

Deck the Halls

1  Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la.
'Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la.
Don we now our gay apparel, Fa la la la la la la la la.
While we sing a yuletide carol, Fa la la la la la la la la.
 
2  Forward now to peace and freedom, Fa la la la la la la la la.
There, a little child shall lead them, Fa la la la la la la la la.
Break the chains of war and slavery, Fa la la la la la la la la.
Pray with courage. Work with bravery, Fa la la la la la la la la.
 

3  Dance away your victim's silence*, Fa la la la la la la la la.
Bring an end to fear and violence, Fa la la la la la la la la.
War and hatred? No and never!  Fa la la la la la la la la.
Peace on Earth, we sing forever, Fa la la la la la la la la.
 

Verse 1:  Traditional
Verse 2 & 3:  Rod Reinhart

This serious text may seem trivialized by the happy tune and especially by the nonsense "Fa-la-la's." Just as families in the past prepared the hearth by cleaning out the ashes and adding the new Yule log, we prepare for Christ's coming during Advent with acts of repentance and service.

*This image can be unfamiliar to North American singers and may sound inappropriate. Forbidden on penalty of death to speak names of the "Disappeared Ones," mothers danced in the village squares holding up pictures of the children who had "disappeared," those who had been kidnapped and/or killed by the government.

Return to Table of Contents

 

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
And a happy new year!

1  Good tidings we bring, to you and your kin,
Good tidings at Christmas and a happy new year!
 

2  Remember the poor, the sick and the old;
Your love for all people is worth more than gold.
 

Verse 1:  Traditional
Verses 2 & 3:  Rae E. Whitney

Return to Table of Contents

A Statement on Biblical Justice

The prophet Micah writes, "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8) John the Evangelist tells us that Jesus said to his disciples, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12)

God's people have always been given the task of showing God's Love to others... all others. We understand this in our personal relationships. If a member of our family or of our church is hurt or offended, the biblical course of action is to come together in a spirit of love and forgiveness.

But how do we love in a world where love and forgiveness are not the norm? For this difficult task God has called us to do justice.

In the real world, most people are exploited and hurt by corporations large or small, by governments and by power groups. Some are discriminated against because of race or gender. Some are abused economically, physically or emotionally, and many are asked to live without dignity or worth. How do we show love in this world with all its pain and injustice?

If we go to people in power speaking of Jesus' love and forgiveness, we may soon be dismissed. We may claim to be suffering for the faith, but the injustice and the pain of people continues. On the other hand, if we speak to employers, government officials and people in power in terms of what is fair and just, then we may begin to get a hearing. We may begin to change the conditions and causes that result in suffering and exploitation. When we speak on behalf of those who have little or no voice, when we seek justice, we speak a word of love on behalf of God.

It is God's intention to show love to all the world. This love is not only meant to be expressed privately, in our personal relationships, but it is also to be proclaimed in a world that does not know God or God's Love. Doing justice is proclaiming God's love in the world, a love that puts ourselves and others in right relationships with God, with each other and with the Earth. Justice brings God's love to those who foster greed, racism, and violence. . . and to their victims.

Justice is a gift that God gives us. . . to proclaim love to a world that detests justice. Biblical justice holds that God's love is for everyone and that all have dignity, given first in creation, and established forever through the death and resurrection of Jesus.             - Chuck Hazlett, Custer, SD

"The Lord of Hosts is exalted by justice." -Isaiah 5:16

For a list of Biblical passages related to hunger and justice, see Beyond Guilt and Powerlessness by George S. Johnson. Contact Alternatives for details.

Return to Table of Contents

 

When we sing favorite carols, let's add justice to the traditional verses.

These are classic sacred carols like "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World," rather than popular or "contemporary" songs. After the first traditional stanza for each carol, we have added freshly written stanzas in contemporary English.

The booklet includes the music for accompaniment or singing in parts by choirs or just for fun.

A free copy of the popular "Ten Tips for a Simpler, More Meaningful Christmas" and many other resources are available on the website, click on Archives, scroll down to Ten Tips.

 


Archives Index | Home | To Celebrate (excerpts)
Free Resources | More Free Resources | Join Us!


Page updated 21 Oct. 2014

Simple Living Works! * SimpleLivingWorks@Yahoo.com
BLOG: SimpleLivingWorks.WordPress.com | Blog INDEX
PODCAST | Podcast INDEX
VIDEOS: YouTube.com/SimpleLivingWorks
MISSION: Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly // An all volunteer educational organization.