Hymns for Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

“Gesù bambino,” “In The Bleak Midwinter,” “Joy to the World:” | Hymns for Christmas Eve Candlelight Service


Come to a church that’s refreshing, inspiring, and fun!

At Princeton United Methodist Church, we play beautiful classical and sacred music during worship, which refreshes the spirit. We also sing new or well-known hymns and “gospel and folk songs.” We pray that our music will inspire everyone, old and young, and help them find faith and hope. At this candlelight service,  we light the Christ Candle in the center of the Advent wreath and pass along the flame to our congregation members as we sing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Here are some of the others:

Video “Gesù bambino”

“Gesù bambino” is an Italian Christmas carol composed by Pietro Yon in 1917. It was translated into English by Frederick H. Martens. The chorus’s lyrics are also the same as the lyrics in O Come All Ye Faithful’s chorus. It is known for its actual performances, numerous recordings, and every kind of vocal and instrumental arrangement.

Video. “In The Bleak Midwinter” 

“In The Bleak Midwinter” is a Christmas carol, written originally as a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti. It is widely performed by choirs worldwide. It was named the best Christmas carol by leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008. Verse one describes the physical circumstances of the Incarnation in Bethlehem. Verse two contrasts Christ’s first and second coming. The third verse talks about Christ’s birth, watched by animals in simple surroundings such as a stable. The fourth verse contrasts the ‘incorporeal angels attendant at Christ’s birth with Mary’s ability to render Jesus physical affection.’ The final verse examines our own conscious thoughts and feelings.

Video.Joy to the World” 

Joy to the World” is a popular Christmas carol written by Isaac Watts. The words are based on Psalm 98Psalm 96 (verses 11 and 12), and Genesis Chapter 3 (verses 17 and 18). By the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” had become the most-published Christmas hymn in North America. In the first and second verses, Watts writes about heaven and earth rejoicing at the King’s coming. In Verse three, he says Christ’s blessings extend victoriously over the realm of sin. Verse four celebrates Jesus’ rule over the nations called to celebrate because God’s faithfulness to the house of Israel has brought salvation to the world.

Click here to watch the PUMC worship service, listen to the beautiful music, the children’s time, the scripture readings, the sermon, the prayers, and the story sharing.

Images Source: Google images

Written by Isabella Dougan

Hymns for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

“O Sing a Song of Bethlehem,” “My Soul Gives Glory to My God,” “Il est né le Divin Enfant: |Hymns for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.


Come to a church that’s refreshing, inspiring, and fun!

At Princeton United Methodist Church, we play beautiful classical and sacred music during worship, which refreshes the spirit. We also sing well-known or new hymns and “gospel and folk songs” that lift us to Heaven. We pray that our music will inspire everyone, old and young, and help them find faith and hope. Our hymns this Fourth Sunday of Advent – the last Sunday before Christmas – resonate with the theme of peace as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth in a few days. The Messiah’s coming will indeed bring liberation.

Video “O Sing a Song of Bethlehem” 

“O Sing a Song of Bethlehem” was written by Louis Fitzgerald Benson of Philadelphia (1855-1930). It portrays Jesus’ life from birth,  his growing up to adulthood, his ministry, death, and resurrection. The stanzas describe scenes about Jesus in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, and Calvary. They speak of ordinary human experiences such as our desire to hear angels, our enjoyment of nature, our praying for God’s peace, and our longing for Jesus’ second coming:

‘The light that shone on Bethlehem fills all the world today; of Jesus’ birth and peace on earth; the angels sing always’

Video  “My Soul Gives Glory to My God”  

“My Soul Gives Glory to My God,” written by Dr. Miriam Therese Winter, paraphrases the “Magnificat,” Mary’s Song, as recorded in Luke 1: 46-55. For centuries, people thought that with the “Magnificat,” their leaders were bent on changing the status quo with a reversal of economic fortunes. They considered the “Magnificat” a dangerous hymn because it sings of promising food for the hungry, power for the powerless, and resource sharing. However, Dr. Winter notes. “It is a song of hope for times of disparity and for any situation in which we feel personally or systemically overwhelmed. It is just the song for a time such as this:”

‘My soul gives glory to my God; My heart pours out its praise. God lifted up my loneliness; In many marvelous ways.’

Video   “Il est né le Divin Enfant” 

Il est né, le Divin Enfant,” published for the first time in 1862 by R.  Grosjean, a French organist, is a traditional French Christmas carol. The English translation is “He is born, the Heavenly Child.” The song describes Jesus’ birth as the prophets had foretold and the 4000 years wait for this happy event. It acknowledges Christ’s’ humble birth in a stable and calls on the Kings of the Orient to look after the Holy Child:

‘He is born, the Heavenly Child. Oboes play; set bagpipes sounding. He is born, the Heavenly Child, Let all sing His nativity.’

Click here to watch the PUMC worship service, listen to the beautiful music, the children’s time, the scripture readings, the sermon, the prayers, and the story sharing.

 Images Source: Google Images

Written by Isabella Dougan

Virtual Shepherds and Sheep

The story is the same, but — the presentation is so different this year! As Sunday School children rehearse for the annual pageant, some parts are different and some the same.

Some of the differences: Mary wears headphones and a vital skill is for every child to know how to mute themselves.

The virtual challenges are written into the script: When the shepherds stare at the angels in disbelief, the angel puts her face up to the screen and reprimands – Am I on mute? Are you people even listening?

The script is published by Illustrated Ministry (#illustratedmin), which provides materials for the very successful Compassion Camp. Though skillfully written for virtual rehearsal and presentation, it is still a huge challenge for the children, their parents, and especially the teachers and directors, Tom Shelton and Evangeline Burgers. One advantage to virtual rehearsals, as Evangeline points out, is that attendance has actually improved!

Most elements are the same. Yes, there will be costumes. Yes, there will be the excitement of a live presentation – after just five rehearsals, there will be just one recording, made on the morning of December 13, for presentation at 5 p.m. that day. Yes, we will hear the original words of the story of Jesus’s birth. “Glory to God in the highest…” and “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” 

Remember to invite friends and family to tune in to “Do Not Be Afraid,” on Sunday, December 13, at 5 p.m. And look forward to smiling as we watch these children: 


Grown-ups and Children DaSilva Family

Mary Lily Oesterle

Angel Gabe Juli Collins

Elizabeth Anna Griffiths

Joseph Ethan Hamilton

Angel Elizabeth Wong

Caesar Andrew Babler

Shepherds Sequoah Hadley, Andrew Babler, Christian Turner, Elliot Walz, Amissah Hagan, Tono Delcorazon

The Angel Messenger Charlotte Oesterle

Angel Chorus Elizabeth Wong, Kate Potts, Claire Hutton-Brady, Alice Hutton-Brady

Sheep Ajube Hagan, Henry Burgers, Edie Potts, RJ Aryeetey, Andrew Aryeetey, Zion Hicks

Star Victoria Offer

King Herod and Magi The Penn Family



“Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” “Freedom is Coming”: Hymns for First Sunday of Advent


 Come to a church that’s refreshing, inspiring, and fun!

At Princeton United Methodist Church, we play beautiful classical and sacred music during worship, and that refreshes the spirit. We also sing well-known, new hymns and “gospel and folk songs” that lift us to Heaven. We pray that our music will inspire everyone, old and young, and help them find faith and hope. Our hymns this First Sunday of Advent – the Fourth Sunday before Christmas – resonate with the theme of hope as we prepare for the Messiah’s coming and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Our gospel music is a cry for freedom and justice.

“Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” 

“Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” was written in 1774 by Charles Wesley as an Advent hymn to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus and prepare for the Second Coming. The orphans’ situation in the areas around him and the great class divide in Britain inspired Him to write this hymn. His texts allude to Scripture passages: “Born Your people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, Now Your gracious kingdom bring.” Wesley’s hymn recalls Isaiah’s words of a sin-weary and captive Israel longing for freedom, reminding us that God’s promised redemption is the “hope of all the earth.” The hymn also refers to Mark, chapter 13, which assures believers that Christ will come again, inspiring us to continue to hope for that promise. To watch a Youtube video of this hymn, click here.

“Freedom is Coming”

“Freedom is Coming” is a South African protest song that has been performed by choirs around the world. The original version was a gospel song, “Jesus Is Coming.” The words were changed in South Africa by people wanting to end apartheid. “Freedom is coming (3x) oh yes, I know (repeat).” “Justice is coming (3x) oh yes I know (repeat).” “Freedom is coming” helps raise awareness of the political context, and the stanza “Jesus is Coming” brings hope with the expectation of Jesus’ birth. This song carries with it a significant promise that should always  be fulfilled — “Oh, yes, I know!” However, some feel that the freedom it promises is never fully realized, considering the injustice that people continue to suffer worldwide. Nevertheless, just singing it brings a feeling of liberty. It has also inspired the song “Freedom is Coming Tomorrow” in the passionate South African musical, “SARAFINA” first performed in Johannesburg in 1987. School choirs have also sung “Freedom is Coming” as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. To watch a Youtube video of this hymn, click here.

Click here to listen to the PUMC worship service, hear the beautiful music, the children’s time, the scripture readings, the sermon, the prayers, and the story sharing.

Images Source: Google Images

Written by Isabella Dougan


Unwrapping Advent: December 2020

Brighten the month of December by participating in a small group study led by Rev. Skitch Matson and Tayler Necoechea on Zoom. Their four-week series starts on the first Tuesday in Advent, December 1, 7 to 8 p.m.

They will base the study on a book, Light of the World, by Amy-Jill Levine. “While the subtitle is ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Advent,’ Dr. Levine goes a few layers deeper,” says Skitch. “It will be good for anyone.”

Dr. Levine teaches New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, and her book is available on Kindle, as a paperback, and as an audiobook on Amazon here 

“As we trace the Christmas narrative through the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth,” says Tayler, “we will study the role of women in first-century Jewish culture and be amazed at the revolutionary implications of Mary’s Magnificat, the census, the star of Bethlehem, and the flight to Egypt.” 

To sign up, email tayler@princetonUMC.org



Written by Isabella Dougan


Advent Sunday, November 29, 2020

“All Things New: Celebrating God’s Promises” will be the theme for Princeton United Methodist Church on Advent Sunday, November 29, during our 10:00 am worship service. Throughout December, our musicians and singers of all ages – and the congregation – will share the opportunity of setting Advent to music. As we celebrate Advent with the whole family, we will also discover meaningful and fun ways to stay focused on Jesus this season. Do you know what each verse of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” means? Sing-a-long! And the Christmas Carol, “Silent Night,” what is it telling you?

Register soon for our intergenerational Virtual Advent Night set for Sunday, December 6 at 4 pm. There will be crafts, family carols with Tom Shelton, and games. Then at 4:30, we’ll sing carols with Karen Zumbrunn, including the always popular “Twelve Days of Christmas” and “Silent Night.” To register, go to       https://princetonumc.breezechms.com/form/2e225e or princetonumc.org.

Households (of any age!) who register for the crafts portion of the event will receive an “Advent in a Box” kit on November 22. The kits will include a variety of supplies to make Advent a meaningful time in your home. Highlights include the book “Faithful Families for Advent and Christmas” by Traci Smith, a make your Advent wreath, a candy cane ornament craft, materials to create an Advent Kindness Tree, a luminaries craft, an Advent countdown paper chain, and more!

See pictures of Evangeline’s crafts for Advent Night on December 6.

 Advent Sunday is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and the start of the church’s liturgical year. This year, the Advent season begins on Sunday, November 29, and ends on Thursday, December 24. It is a season of hope and expectations as we prepare for the birth and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Four candles representing God’s beautiful gifts of Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy are used at worship during the Advent season. We begin this journey together by lighting the first candle on this first day of Advent. 


Winter Solstice: Longest Night Service

In the calendar of 2,000 years ago, December 25 was the Longest Night of the year and it was proclaimed the Winter Solstice. Today — Saturday, December 21 – is the actual date of the Winter Solstice. Some Christian churches offer “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night services, as explained in this NPR segment. 

At Princeton UMC, we acknowledged the darkness in life at a Longest Night Service, held this year on Tuesday, December 17. Pastor Jenny Smith Walz and the PrincetonUMC’s Stephen Ministers led a service of reflection, minor and modal music, and prayer – with several times of comforting silence.


Each worshipper received an origami star (made by Hyosang Park) and placed in the bar in back of 28 flickering candles.  The star represented the  mix of feelings – happy and sad. And the contrast between the joy of the Baby’s birth with the cruelty of Herod.

When the bar was raised, the lights behind it turned on and sparkled. It was as if the stars and are prayers were lifted to heaven.

Longest Night Decemb
Pastors, Stephen Ministers, and members of the Love Lives On groups participated in the Longest Night Service at PrincetonUMC


Here are some United Methodist Church resources about the Longest Night.

A quiz and an answer   

An episode of Chuck Knows Church

A secular book about the winter solstice 



Sermon “Singing Mary’s Song of Rejoicing”

“Singing Mary’s Song” is the theme for Princeton United Methodist Church this Advent season, during 10 am worship. “The Magnificat” is the Virgin Mary’s joyful, prophetic response when the baby John the Baptist in her cousin Elizabeth’s womb joyfully recognizes the presence of the baby Jesus in her womb.

On this First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached a sermon titled “Singing Mary’s Song of Rejoicing.” The Scripture for the week is Luke 1:46-55. These ten verses of Scripture are beautiful, dense, vibrant, hopeful, and challenging. 

“We are a diverse community joyfully responding to God’s love and growing as disciples of Christ.” That is our Mission Statement – why we exist as PUMC – why we are thankful more and more. 

The keyword here is “Joyfully.” We are joyfully responding to God’s Love, yet, we get confused sometimes between “joy” and “happiness.” Joy can be both a gift and a challenge. Is it aspirational? Is it appropriate – given so much sorrow, struggle, and despair in the world? A joyful thing can be a struggle, particularly when we are struggling and finding it difficult to be happy. It is not always a natural disposition to be joyful when one has a lot of work to do. Define Joy. What is your joy?

In the Gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 11, Jesus said: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Jesus demands us to love one another: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Mary taught me much about Joy. Here we see a young Jewish girl from the backwater town of Nazareth, unwed and vulnerable – receiving the announcement by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit to be called Jesus. She goes to visit her relative, Elizabeth. Her response to the Annunciation is to sing a song, “My soul magnifies the Lord …” She is full of joy, but it could easily have been fear. This song is full of joy, hope, reversal, expectation, Incarnation, and Kingdom building. 

Rejoice! God has broken into your life and human history.

Rejoice! God has regard for you – beloved, enough, seen, known, loved

Rejoice! God is calling you to join God’s action. Incarnate, kingdom building, liberation, healing, joy

Rejoice! Mary’s ‘Yes’ and every ‘Yes” within us

Rejoice! The reign of God is at hand. God has fulfilled his promise. Full of surprise and life 

Rejoice! God is trustworthy, kind, merciful. We can say yes, even if we don’t understand

Rejoice! God is giving us eyes to see God’s promise as already fulfilled.

Rejoice! God is turning things on their heads! Subverting power structures, pretensions, hierarchies, sin, in church and society  

Rejoice! God’s liberating work has set you free. No more fear of failure, loss, rejection. No more shame that distances and hides. No more need for anxiety and control. No more need to get your worth from status, wealth, privilege, possession, or meeting expectations.

Rejoice! God has not forgotten those who are oppressed (underprivileged or overprivileged). God’s liberating work is setting the downtrodden free, scattering the proud, lifting the lowly, filling the hungry with good things.

Rejoice! God has embodied all of this in the absurd choice of these two marginalized pregnant women who bear the good news, the gospel, the “incarnate” love of God in this world of the “I – young/poor/unwed” or the “I – too old!”

Rejoice! We are all pregnant with the possibility of a new life. God is with us – God is in us.

Rejoice! We do not have to manufacture joy – a gift – a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We just let it in. Say yes! And when we do, like Mary – our souls magnify the Lord – aglow.

So let us celebrate Advent, singing Mary’s song of praise together: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.” AMEN

The sermon is a podcast on this webpage under the category worship. Here is the link

For the complete video of the December 1 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here