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


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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.


Hymns for Brown Bag Sunday


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At PUMC we play beautiful classical and sacred music during worship, and that refreshes the spirit.  We also sing well-known and new hymns as well as “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.                          

“Mountains Are All Aglow” 

“Mountains Are All Aglow” is a song of adoration, praise, and gratitude, thus suitable for Thanksgiving – uniting people and sharing God’s blessings. It was written by Ok In Lim in 1967 and sung to the tune KAHM-SAH by composer Jae Hoon Park. The melody is similar to Korean folk songs. The original Korean text was translated in 1988 by Hae Jong Kim, the first Korean United Methodist bishop (1992-2005). “It is the Asian equivalent of a favorite harvest hymn for Euro-North American Christians, “Come, ye thankful people, come” by British Anglican, Henry Alford.” Hymns from Asia are recent additions to our hymnals. 

The first stanza echoes Psalm 65:9-10:“You take care of the land. You water it and make it fertile……” Stanza two emphasizes human partnership with God: “Working hard, God has given us reasons for deep gratitude.” Stanza three emphasizes the role of humanity, “Working hard, tilling God’s earth; making preparation.” Stanza four invokes the feeling of trusting God’s promises and planting his word deep in our hearts. To watch a video of this hymn, click here.

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” 

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” is an Anglican hymn, also sung in many other Christian denominations. Cecil Frances Alexander wrote the words and published the song in 1848 in her Hymns for Little Children. The melody originated from the 17th-century English country dance tune “The 29th of May,” but there have been other adaptations. The chorus was recommended as a Christian song for children to learn, even those as young as five and it has remained popular with them.

This hymn consists of a series of stanzas that emphasize the verses of the Apostles’ Creed and may have been inspired by Psalm 104, verses 24 and 25: as well as by a poem from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “For the dear God who loveth us: He made and loveth all.” The stanzas tell us that God’s world is wonderfully made and we must relax with nature. God made all things bright and beautiful, wise, and wonderful. He made the little flowers, the little birds, the green grass, the big animals, the tall mountains, the great forests, the sun, the rivers, the sunset, the moon and stars in the sky, the different seasons, the rich man, the poor man, the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. God’s creation reminds us of how great He is. To watch a Youtube video of this hymn, click here.

This Sunday is traditionally our Brown Bag and Thanksgiving Sunday, when we fill the front of the sanctuary with non-perishables for the ‘Arm in Arm’ food pantry. For what are you giving thanks? This year, ‘Arm in Arm’ is asking for cash donations instead. If you’d like to give an extra offering for this purpose, please designate your gift ‘Arm in Arm.’

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.

“My Hope is Built,’ “Rock of Ages,” “This Little Light”: Hymns for Laity Sunday



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

At PUMC we play beautiful classical and sacred music during worship, and that refreshes the spirit.  We also sing well-known and new hymns as well as “gospel songs” that lift us to Heaven. We pray that our music will inspire everyone, old and young and help them find faith and hope.                          

The hymns that will be sung this Sunday describe personal feelings of pain and suffering, and the hope, which we get from God’s presence especially in church.  

 “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” was written by Edward Mote, a pastor at Rehoboth Baptist Church in HorshamWest Sussex as a Christian hymn. The refrain of the hymn refers to the Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders and the metaphor of Christ as a rock according to 1 Corinthians 10:4 [Wikipedia]. This hymn tells us to trust in God when we face the unknown, for Christ will give us support and hope. It also tells about Christ’s triumphant second coming, as recorded in (Matthew 24:43, Acts 1:9-11, 1 Corinthians 11:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, 2 Peter 3:10, and Revelation 16:15).To watch a YouTube video of this hymn, click here.

“Rock of Ages” is a Christian hymn sung to the tune “Toplady” by Thomas Hastings in the US. It is believed that the Reverend Augustus Toplady  was inspired to write it after seeking shelter from a thunderstorm in a cleft in a rock at Burrington Combe in Somerset, England in 1776. “In “Rock of Ages,” the singer confesses, and is comforted, that in life, death, and eternity his standing before God depends entirely on the merits of Christ—the only safe place, or rock, where lawbreakers can hide from the curse they have brought upon themselves.”To watch a YouTube video of this hymn, click here.

This Little Light of Mine” is a popular gospel song, its origin unknown, but sung all around the world. It is often thought of as an African-American spiritual, but can be found in The United Methodist Hymnal and other hymn books. It was sung as a Civil Rights anthem in the 1950s and 1960s, especially the version by Bettie Mae Fikes. It became a popular children’s song and is also included in Christian children’s song books. In 2018, counter-protesters sang “This Little Light of Mine” defiantly before a crowd of white supremacists and alt-right supporters in Charlottesville.“This Little Light” is also sung in several scenes of the 1994 film Corrina, Corrina starring Whoopi Goldberg and Ray Liotta. A version of this popular song was played at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Merkle in May 2018. 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.


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. 


“What Gift Can We Bring,” “As a Fire Is Meant For Burning:” Hymns For Pledge Sunday


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What are the stories behind these hymns?”

“What Gift Can We Bring” 

“What gift can we bring” written by Jane Marshall is a hymn of pure gratitude. A lifelong Dallas resident, she composed this hymn in 1980 for her congregation’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Northaven United Methodist Church. Stanza two reflects on heritage, giving thanks for the past and those “who planted and watered so dreams could come true.” Stanza three looks to the future that is “full of surprises,” yet knowing that regardless of what happens, “we rest in God’s keeping and live in God’s love.” Jane Marshall wrote both the text and the tune for this hymn. Tune writers usually name tunes, so Marshall chose the name that fit the occasion, ANNIVERSARY SONG.

“As a Fire Is Meant for Burning”

“As a Fire is Meant For Burning” was written in 1982 by Ruth Duck, professor of worship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Illinois, using sources 2 Corinthians 4:7 and Matthew 4:14-16. The text uses tunes such as JOYOUS LIGHT and BEACH SPRING. There is a Spanish translation by Georgina Pando-Connolly, ‘Como un Fuego Brilla y Querna.’ 

In the first stanza, Duck uses terms of purpose. The fire’s action is that of warmth and light and the church’s action should reveal the commandment that we love one another as we love ourselves. Her vision of mission calls us to work among those in need gently and to allow the light of Christ to be apparent through our actions. In the second stanza,” Her language of clay pots helps us remember that we are fragile. Christians and non-Christians are made of this same ordinary, breakable stuff, and our gentleness in action may ensure we don’t fracture others as we light the way to God. In the third stanza, purpose and action turn toward hope– the hope of renewed life and God’s grace. Our lives as reflections of the love and forgiveness of God. Christ’s light will lead us out of the darkness of the world into the love of God.

In Ruth Duck’s hymn text, Christ’s light is within us, and we carry the light within us as learners, teachers, pilgrims, seekers, and givers who point to the One who transforms lives as we work in mission. As we walk forward in serving others through music, worship, and mission, may our lives indeed “reflect the radiance of ‘God’s new and glorious dawn.’

This Sunday, our musicians will include the Virtual Handbell Choir and Julia Hanna.

To worship with us, hear our beautiful music, sing with us, enjoy our children’s time, scripture readings, sermons, prayers, and story sharing, go to our Facebook page, or click here.

Click here to enjoy a Youtube video of“What Gift Can We Bring” 

Click here to enjoy a Youtube video of “As a Fire Is Meant for Burning”

This Sunday, November 8 is Pledge Sunday for 2021. Please consider Christ’s love and what Princeton UMC means to you and your family. Complete your pledge online or fill out a pledge card and return it by mail to the church by November 30. Visit our giving page for more information.

“For All The Saints” – Hymns for All Saints’ Day



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What is the story behind the hymn “For All The Saints“?

For All the Saints” was written as a processional hymn by the Anglican Bishop of WakefieldWilliam Walsham How. It was first printed in Hymns for Saints’ Days, and Other Hymns, by Earl Nelson, 1864. (Wikipedia)

The hymn was sung to the melody Sarum, by the Victorian composer Joseph Barnby.  In 1906  Ralph Vaughan Williams used a new setting which he called Sine Nomine (literally, “without a name”) about its use on the Feast of All Saints, 1 November (or the first Sunday in November). It is “one of the finest hymn tunes of [the 20th] century.” 

“For All the Saints” describes the ordinary life of all the saints. We thank Jesus Christ for drawing us all to him, for the strength and guidance that we continue to draw from Him and for our joint communion in Christ. We pray that Christ will guide us in the continuing struggle against evil and lead us to the coming day when the dead shall rise, and we shall all worship together before God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “No matter what path each of us travels, we all will enjoy the same glorious eternal life.” 

 On Sunday, we will name our PUMC family members and others connected to us who have passed on since last All Saints’ Day. We will also honor and celebrate the work of God’s saints in the church, in the community, and the world today. “For All the Saints” is a beautiful, accessible thanksgiving prayer in remembrance of those who’ve gone before us.

Our musicians will include Tom Shelton, Camilla Pruitt, Delaney McCarty, Julia Hanna, John Girvin, the PUMC Youth Choir and Hyosang Park who will be playing the “bell tree” as we pray.

Click here to enjoy a Youtube performance of “For All the Saints” Hymn by The Choir of Paisley Abbey, a parish church of the Church of Scotland.

To worship with us, hear our beautiful music, sing with us, enjoy our children’s time, the scripture readings, the sermon, our stories, and join in our communion and our prayers, go to our Facebook page, or click here.

Tom Shelton’s New Anthem for All Saints’ Day

Here is a link to the premiere of “Into the World of Light” by Tom Shelton and Camilla Pruitt. A re-engineered version may be found here: PUMC Youth Choir – Oct 2020 subtitles De Hiss De crackle.mp4 – OneDrive

Dedicating his new anthem to those who lost their lives to Covid-19, Tom Shelton, director of Princeton UMC’s Youth Choirs, took all the precautions against the disease. Recording outdoors at Veteran’s Park in Lawrenceville, the singers wore special “singers masks,” and Delaney McCarty’s flute had its own mask. Bill Gardner managed the recording.

After finding no appropriate anthem for the youth choir to sing on All Saints Day, Tom had written “Into the World of Light” with his sister, Camilla Pruitt. The text  is based on Ecclesiastes 3:11 and words by 17th century poet Henry Vaughan, including these lines:

They are all gone into the world of light!/ As stars and angels in my dreams

Lighting the darkness with a ray of light/As Saints illumine me. 

To hear  “Into the World of Light” in the context of the All Saints Day worship, tune in to the archived worship service for November 1 at Princeton United Methodist Church’s  web page, or on Facebook.

HYMN: ”Lord of all Hopefulness” 10/11/2020


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What is the story behind the hymn “Lord of all Hopefulness?”

“Lord of all Hopefulness” is a Christian hymn written by English writer Jan Struther, originally published in 1931, and set to the melody of an Irish folksong Slane. The hymn is used in liturgy, at weddings, and at the beginning of funeral services.  

“Lord of all Hopefulness” was played at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2019, and also sung at the Commonwealth Service 2018 at Westminster Abbey.  It is one of the most popular hymns in the United Kingdom.

To worship with us, hear our beautiful music, our children’s time, the scripture readings, the sermon, and our prayers,“ go to our Facebook page or click here

Highlights From World Communion Sunday!

On the first Sunday in October, United Methodist congregations join many Christian churches worldwide to celebrate World Communion Sunday. The World Communion Sunday Offerings provide scholarships for national and international students, particularly first-generation college students and ethnic students. 

At PUMC, we have a vibrant international community, a testament to our church’s love for diversity and inclusiveness. This year’s communion worship service went virtual from our different homes, allowing us to share bread and wine from our different cultures. As part of our celebration, we welcomed and dispersed our congregation in various languages. We hope everyone had a fun and memorable day!  

To watch our World Communion Sunday worship service on Facebook, click here

Hymn: “This Child”

Tom Shelton, music director of children’s and youth choirs at PUMC, wrote the hymn “This Child” and composed its music.

The lyrics of this Christmas song makes it suitable for release during the Coronavirus pandemic. Says Tom: “The verses represent what many of us have felt during this period of isolation. We have to keep our faith and believe in This Child.”

Here are the lyrics of the chorus:

“Where do I run, where can I hide,

When the world comes crashing down. 

Where can I turn, who do I call,

When there’s no one else around. 

I turn to you; I call on my faith,

And the promise delivered that night –

This Child.”

Shelton played and sang “This Child” during worship on Sunday, September 13, 2020, as the children’s and youth choirs resumed their activities this week, meeting virtually (mostly). 

To follow our worship service on FaceBook and sing with us, click here