“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 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.


Meet Tyler Mathiasen, Our New Office Manager

Joining PUMC staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyler has proved himself as a liaison between the pastors, staff, and lay leaders in responding to the congregation’s needs. He communicates on behalf of our lead pastor, prepares for worship, manages the church calendar and contact lists, and puts processes in place to support the Church during this virtual season. 

Tyler’s desire to work for organizations emphasizing social justice and finding common cause around helping others helped him embark on a journey to discover the joy of working in a church environment. “I am looking forward to being a part of this vibrant community and getting to know the members of this Church,”  Tyler said, talking about how he enjoys connecting with people in his community. 

A passionate reader of historical biographies and team leader, Tyler is an alumnus of the Pennington School and The College of New Jersey, who has worked in health care, community development, and the non-profit sector. Right out of college, he had volunteered as a marketing coordinator for the Hopewell Valley YMCA and as a recruiter for political and environmental campaigns. He later moved to DC to work on the presidential election in 2016, both as a door-to-door canvasser for the Public Interest Research Group and as an office coordinator for a center-left lobbying firm, NVG LLC. 

Before working for PUMC, Tyler had mastered the coffee brewing technique, which led him to work as a barista at ‘Small World Coffee’ for two and a half years. At this precise time, he fell more in love with Princeton, New Jersey, this bustling university town, with its suburban feel, coffee shops, restaurants, and parks.

Continue reading “Meet Tyler Mathiasen, Our New Office Manager”

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



Children’s Time: “Who Built the Stable?”

For the second Sunday in Advent, Who Bulit the Stable?  was read at Children’s Time by Pastor Jenny Smith Walz. Written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan. it tells of a boy, a shepherd and a carpenter, who helped provide the place where Jesus was born.

The boy looked in the infant’s eyes
And in his heart he knew
The babe would be a carpenter
He’d be a shepherd too.

As the publisher says, “this is a picture book that captures the reason for the season in all its wonder and beauty. Who Built the Stable? is a celebration of Christmas, of the kindness of children, and of the new hope born with each new baby.”

“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.


Coats Coats Coats — and Dinners, at CCK

Judy Miller carried all the Clothes Closet offerings outdoors on the last distribution day for the season. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Judy and the CCK volunteers distributed dozens of coats, donated through the Princeton Police collection. “We were outside using extra portable lights. We put chock blocks under the wheels of the rolling racks so they wouldn’t roll down the inclined slope between the church and consignment store. We even lashed some racks with rope to nearby structures. Some definitely challenging logistics. But so worth it. Our shoppers were so grateful.

“Mountains Are All Aglow,” “All Things Bright And Beautiful”: Hymns for Brown Bag 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 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.

Hurricanes: December Communion Offering

“Does anybody outside this region care?” PUMC and UMCOR do care!

“There’s a mental exhaustion that sets in and then there’s a fear of ‘Does anybody outside this region care?’” a Lake Charles resident recently told a news wire service. UMCOR’s answer? United Methodists and UMCOR do care.

Hurricane Delta came ashore on Oct. 9 with 101 mph winds and a 9.3 ft. storm surge in coastal Louisiana. Delta hit only 12 miles from where Hurricane Laura barreled through in late August, killing at least 27 people. More than 9,000 Louisianans remained in shelters after Delta left the region because Laura’s strong winds had caused so much damage to local homes.

With these storms UMCOR’s legacy of being “early in, last out” will definitely come into play. In the immediate aftermath of these storms, UMCOR focused on tarping homes and performing muck and gut maneuvers. UMCOR has awarded solidarity grants to local conference partners to help them address immediate needs.

As we stay warm and dry in our homes this December, your PUMC Outreach Ministry Team asks you to donate to UMCOR disaster relief so UMCOR can continue to meet the needs of those who have lost their homes in this record hurricane season.  Please give generously with your December communion offering.

To learn more, click on



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