Tuesday 1 December 2015

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room - ideas for Advent when life is busy...

The last days of November mark the beginning of a rush of family birthdays which continue through to the end of March for us. With Christmas preparations added to the birthday celebrations life can get quite busy. I often think of the words of the Christmas hymn, Joy to the World, where it says,

 'Let every heart prepare Him room.' 

How do we make room in our hearts and in our lives for Him at a time of year when everything pushes us into rush and busyness?

Keeping things simple and do-able is the only way I can do this. Perhaps in a different season of life my plans could be more complex, but for the time being, simple is do-able. Below are some ideas that we've used, or are planning to use, over the season of Advent. They are mostly ideas that fit well with the rhythm of our Ambleside Online schedules, which are usually still in place up until the second or third week of December. Some of these ideas have become yearly traditions, which are simple for us because we've already done them multiple times. Some are things that were great one year but didn't suit the next.


Music is on of the easiest ways for our hearts to 'prepare Him room.' I'll start with our favourite Christmas folksong for the past two years  - an oldie with a new twist.

And another we listen to:


The original poem, Christmas Bells by William Wadsworth Longfellow was written in 1864 during the American Civil War. The whole poem and the story behind it is here. One of my very favourites for this time of year and very appropriate as we see what is happening in other parts of the world or sometimes within our own borders.

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Hymn Study

Joy to the World! An Advent Devotional Journey through the Songs of Christmas by Ray Pritchard. This is a kindle edition available from Amazon and they were offering it as a free download. It may still be available. Each day from the 1st to the 25th December a Christmas hymn or song is highlighted, some of the history of the song is covered, and then there is a link to a youtube version of the song. A handy pick up & go, no planning needed, resource. I would find doing a different song each day too much and would prefer to concentrate on just a few which would work just as well.
I've added some links below to posts where I've included some hymns that we like to listen to leading up to Christmas.


My Reading

The Birth by Gene Edwards. I reviewed this book here. This is a refreshing and different view of the whole Christmas story in fictional form, and I really enjoy it for that reason. I have a friend who reads this every Christmas.

Read Alouds

I Will Honour Christmas in my Heart - books we used last Christmas; some lovely picture books are included. We read through Dicken's A Christmas Carol and listened to a recording of Handel's Messiah using Cindy's schedule.
Nancy @ Ipsofactodotme joined us with both of these and she posted her very thoughtful observations on her blog. See also her blow by blow description of A Christmas Carol.


Advent favourites - this is a post I did two years ago that includes a range of ideas and resources - art, music, handicraft etc which we've used for Advent and Christmas.

Christmas Ideas in a Charlotte Mason Education - another post: books, handicraft etc

Keeping Christmas

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the references to "Handel's Messiah" and Dickens "Christmas Carol".
The music and comments took me three weeks to complete, every morning a small segment of Handel's genius! Dickens, he never disappoints! I'm looking for a 'good Christmassy' book to read this year. Love to hear any suggestions from you or your readers of this blog!

Jen said...

Thank you so much for the link to the Longfellow story. We have memorized a few of his pieces this year, but I never knew he wrote the words to one of my favorite Christmas songs. Next year, I will have my kids memorize the poem in December. Or maybe we can fit it in this year. Either way, I'm so glad to know this story. It also fits in perfectly with our US History studies this year

Angela said...

Thank you for sharing, and for the links to your other posts. This is the first year we are incorporating advent activities and you've provided some great ideas! I especially appreciate the artwork.

dawn said...

Wonderful, thank you Carol. I have been loving Advent music this year.

Carol said...

You're welcome. I could listen to that song every day.

Carol said...

Good to know they're helpful. Enjoy your little girl's first Christmas, Angela!

Carol said...

If you like Agatha Christie there's: The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding.

Short stories - I'm reading some of these: The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle - https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/d75ad/chapter7.html

The Burglar's Christmas by Willa Cather writing under a pseudonym:

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

This is one I thought of reading. I'm partial to Russian writers and this is by Chekhov, an author I haven't read yet - a picture of Christmas without hope, not everyone's cup of tea. 'At Christmas Time':

I hope you find something you like & if you find anything worthwhile in your search, let me know.

Unknown said...

Ooooo...I'm hoping to get The Birth from the library, Carol...I didn't have anything on my Christmas stack for me. :) Thank you for the wonderful folks songs etc!

CrystalMarcos said...

Thanks for the reminder of what Christmas is truly about. Sometimes people lose site of this when rushing to buy presents or planning holiday events. Taking some relaxing time and reading books is a great holiday tradition with loved family bonding time.

Unknown said...

I love Advent! These are wonderful ideas for allowing us to prepare for Christmas. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Tina at Mommynificent.com said...

This is a wonderful and really helpful list of ideas! You've given me several ideas I want to try. Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday this week!