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This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

The Music of Christmas: And Heaven and Nature Sing


One of the most beloved Christmas carols was written by two men who never met each other.
 

Lindsey Terry writes in Today’s Christian:

One of our most popular Christmas carols is the result of the efforts of Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason—and, some believe, George Frederick Handel. Watts was a frail, quiet man only five feet tall. Mason was an energetic publisher, choir director, and composer. Handel was a large, robust musical genius. Handel and Watts were contemporaries in London and one imagines they must have appreciated each other's talents. Mason lived 100 years later in Boston.

In 1719 Isaac Watts, already a notable scholar and author, sat down under a tree at the Abney Estate near London and began to compose poetry based on Psalm 98. Watts had begun writing verses as a small child. In his teen years he complained that the songs in church were hard to sing. His father said, "Well, you write some that are better." And so he did. For the next two years, young Isaac wrote a new hymn each week. (He would eventually write more than 600 of them, all based on Scripture.) Today, hymns like "Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" are hallmarks of the Christian church, and Watts is regarded as "the Father of English Hymnody."

Almost a century later, Lowell Mason set Watts's poem of "joy" to music. For years it was assumed that Mason used tunes from Handel's Messiah for portions of the arrangement, but the veracity of that claim is now debated among scholars. Listeners can judge for themselves. But this we know: It was Mason who ultimately brought the pieces together to give us "Joy to the World."
 


Here’s Mannheim Steamroller performing in the historic Orpheum Theatre in their home town of Omaha, Nebraska.



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