Category Archives: joy

Did You Know It’s Still Christmas?

This is a repost of a blog I originally published in December 2008.

My Christmas/Epiphany song is available as a free download now through January 2: http://noisetrade.com/morgantrotter/we-three-kings-ep

My Christmas/Epiphany song is available as a free download now through January 2: http://noisetrade.com/morgantrotter/we-three-kings-ep

I can hear the groans already. “Still Christmas?? No! Please! I’m sick of Christmas!! Pleeeease let it be over with already!”

But actually it is still Christmas. You’ve heard of the “12 days of Christmas”? It’s more than just a song. On the church calendar Christmas actually does last through January 5. That’s twelve days. Count ’em.

In the old days this season of the church year used to be called “Christmastide.” Now I think they just call it the Season of Christmas.

The way we do Christmas in America contains a lot of irony. Technically, on the church calendar the Christmas season doesn’t start until Dec. 25. In America, though, Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier every year. When I was a kid, people started thinking about and decorating for Christmas after Thanksgiving. This coincided pretty nicely with the church calendar, because the season of Advent, which is sort of the build up to Christmas, a season of preparation and anticipation, begins soon after the Thanksgiving holiday.

But nowadays it’s not uncommon to begin seeing Christmas decorations in stores right after Halloween, if not before. (In a twist which almost seems indicative of two competing spiritual kingdoms, this past fall I heard that Halloween is the second most lucrative holiday of the year, behind Christmas.)

So by mid-November we’re already being treated to Christmas decorations, advertisements for Christmas toys, and even maybe an occasional Christmas carol interspersed in the ever-ubiquitous muzak. After Thanksgiving all the stops are pulled out, bringing the modern American Christmas frenzy into full swing.

It’s no wonder that this past Friday one of my colleagues at work was heard to say “I’m glad Christmas is over with. I’m sick of it.”

I didn’t listen to much Christmas music this year prior to the week of Christmas day. With two elderly relatives dying a couple weeks before and having spent the previous weeks waiting to hear of their fate, there just didn’t seem to be much room or inclination in my heart to think about Christmas this year.

That changed, though, when I attended a wonderful musical rendition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Clarence Brown Theatre here in Knoxville last Sunday. It made me realize I was becoming Scroooge-ish this year, and the delightful production helped revive the Christmas spirit for me.

So by Monday I was ready to hear some Christmas music. One of the local Christian radio stations devoted the entire month between Thanksgiving and Christmas to playing Christmas music, so carols weren’t hard to find on the radio.

Due to my work schedule I wasn’t able to be with family on Christmas day this year, but instead knew I wouldn’t see them until this weekend (Dec. 26-28). So this year I was thankful to remember that Christmas lasts beyond the 25th. Therefore as I was driving to work on the morning of Dec. 26, I was ready to hear some more Christmas music.

To my dismay I clicked on the radio to discover that the channel which had been blaring non-stop Christmas music the day before, and for an entire month previously, was now suddenly back to their regular playlist again. Not a Christmas carol to be heard anywhere! All that build-up, and now they were moving on as if nothing important or special had happened at all! Almost as if they, like everyone else, were sick of Christmas, too, and just ready to get back to “normal life.”

Bah humbug.

That’s when it struck me how backwards we have this whole Christmas thing. The four weeks before Christmas Day are supposed to be Advent, a time of waiting and anticipation and preparation (namely to ready our hearts to celebrate Jesus, not to wear ourselves out getting all set for the grand Gift Exchange). That’s supposed to be the build-up to Christmas. Then Christmas Day is supposed to be a day of joy and wonder at “what God hath wrought” in Jesus.

Instead, though, we’ve allowed it to become a time in which everyone works themselves silly buying presents, and wrapping gifts, and decorating trees and houses and yards, and staging parties (with one or more to attend every week, it seems), and…and…I’m out of breath. No wonder everyone’s sick of Christmas by the time Dec. 26 rolls around.

Bah humbug.

But I think that’s where the beauty and the pleasant surprise of Christmastide comes in, the fact that Christmas is a season and not just a day. Now that all the hustle and bustle is over, we can take a breather. Now we can take some time to actually reflect on the meaning of the holiday, because we rarely have time for that before the 25th.

I assume the Christian radio station quit playing Christmas carols on Dec. 26 out of ignorance. Sadly, even many of us in the church have lost touch with the rhythms and cadences of the church calendar. Being somewhat of a liturgical rebel myself I’ll be the first one to say I don’t think we should be legalistically bound to the church calendar. I think it adds freshness to our celebrations when we change things up from time to time and from year to year. This year it really helped me enjoy Christmas by not listening to or singing Christmas carols until a few days before the 25th.

But at the same time, when we’ve so completely lost sight of the fact that it’s still Christmas, then maybe it’s time to be reminded. To that Christian radio station, and to my friend at work, I want to say: “Not so fast. Let’s allow it to be Christmas a little while longer. I’m really just starting to enjoy it now. Let’s allow ourselves time to reflect on what Christmas really means.”

After all, if we can get past all the busyness of Christmas and remember what it’s really about, on some level wouldn’t we like it to be Christmas all year ’round? We only get sick of Christmas if we lose sight of the real point. It’s not about the tree or the presents or the parties or the snow we wish we had or the mistletoe or all the rushing here and there. It’s about love and peace and goodwill and joy. Those are things I’d like to carry with me through the year.

I have a friend who grew up in a denomination that didn’t observe the liturgical calendar. He discovered the church calendar late in life and has found it to be a great source of comfort and structure for his faith. This same friend makes a practice every year of wishing his friends “Merry Christmas” between December 25 and January 5. I think he’s onto something there.

So to all my friends out there I want to wish you a very merry Christmas, as well as a blessed and prosperous new year. And I hope you’ll take a little time between now and the 5th to continue to reflect on the meaning of this blessed season, when we remember that God became one of us in order to reconcile us to himself.

“…In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” – 2 Cor 5:19 (RSV). In recent years that’s become one of my favorite verses. It reminds me that God’s disposition toward us is not to keep track of our sins, but to do away with them, so that we may be reconciled to him.

To commemorate the season of Christmas, I’ve recorded a new song that is fitting for Christmas and also Epiphany (Jan. 6).  It’s a fresh new version of the old beloved Christmas and Epiphany carol “We Three Kings.”  It is now available as a FREE download via NoiseTrade.com through January 6, 2014: http://noisetrade.com/morgantrotter/we-three-kings-ep

Merry Christmas.

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“You Are My Delight”: A Project to Support Shelters For Battered Women

“You Are My Delight,” an original song co-written and recorded by my friend Bob Mader and myself, is now available for purchase on iTunes.  Bob and I are going to donate 1/2 of everything we make on this song to support two women’s shelters, one here in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, and the other in the town where Bob lives (and where I also used to live), Lenoir City, Tennessee.  More information on these shelters is given below.

The Story Behind the Song

artwork for "You Are My Delight" by Amy Given

artwork for “You Are My Delight” by Amy Given

On a Sunday morning in 2006, some women from Iva’s Place, a shelter for battered women in Lenoir City, Tennessee, came to speak at Bob’s church (Two Rivers Evangelical Free Church).  The church was supporting the shelter, and these ladies had been invited to come and share the stories of what they had been through, as well as how God had worked in their lives.

As Bob listened to their testimonies, he was moved by all they’d experienced and began to ask himself, “What message would God want to give to these women?”  Right there in church, the following words came to Bob:

You are My delight, you are My great joy;
You’re the apple of My eye, the one that I came for;
Extravagantly cherished, made perfect in My sight–
You are My beloved, you are My delight.

“You Are My Delight” (c) copyright 2007 Bob Mader & Morgan Trotter

Bob says that although the chorus came to him immediately that’s all it was. He never could come up with any verses to finish out the song.

Fast-forward a year or so to the summer of 2007.  Bob and I met at a retreat for Christian songwriters held in Townsend, Tennessee.  On the Saturday of the retreat our afternoon assignment was to collaborate with one of the other songwriters and try to create a song.  Since Bob and I were the only two people there from Knoxville (where I lived at the time), we decided to pair up and see what we could come up with.

I grabbed some pages of unfinished songs I’d brought with me to the retreat (we knew ahead of time this would be one of our assignments), and began to look through them.  One stood out to me that I’d entitled “Long Before.”  With this unfinished song, my situation was just the opposite of Bob’s–my song had some verses but no chorus to tie everything together.

I showed this piece of a song to Bob and sang the melody I had come up with for it.  After hearing it, Bob looked through the song fragments he’d brought to the retreat and pulled out his chorus “You Are My Delight” and played it for me.

As he played that chorus, I think we both got the sense that my verses might fit well with his chorus.  When we sang them together it worked, so we honed the verses a bit, turning one of them into a bridge, in order to make the song flow together seamlessly.  After an hour or so’s work, we were done and had a finished song.  Here is the complete lyric we finally wound up with:

Long before you loved Me, I was pursuing you;
Long before you knew Me, I had my eye on you.
Long before you cared whether I was around,
I was planning for the day you’d let yourself be found…

Long before you knew the desires of your heart,
You were lost and afraid, all alone there in the dark;
Till I called your name, and whispered “It’s alright…
I will hold you near all through the night….”

Chorus:
(For) you are My delight, you are My great joy,
The apple of My eye, the one that I came for;
Extravagantly cherished, made perfect in My sight….
You are My beloved, you are My delight.

Bridge:
Long before you heard about My Son,
He was dying so we could be one;
Long before you were born anew,
My Spirit was drawing you…!

Chorus:
(For) you are My delight, you are My great joy,
The apple of My eye, the one that I came for;
Extravagantly cherished, made perfect in My sight….
You are My beloved, you are My delight.

“You Are My Delight
words and music by Bob Mader and Morgan Trotter
© 2007 Bob Mader and Morgan Trotter

“You Are My Delight” is God singing His love and care over the victims of domestic violence. Indeed, it is God singing His love over all of us.  You can hear this song as a word from God to you about His love for you personally as well.

The Long And Winding Road to Today

After the retreat, Bob and I went home and each recorded our own versions of the song.  If you buy the full EP for “You Are My Delight” you can hear both of these early versions, which are just a little different, but which both capture the song’s heart and message.

Over the next several years, Bob and I played the song individually at various places, and always got a good response.  Bob’s recording of it even became a Top 50 song on Soundclick.com, where he posted it.  But playing the song occasionally for friends or churches was about all we did with it.

Then in 2011 a mutual friend of ours learned the story of how the song’s chorus was inspired when Bob heard the ladies from the women’s shelter speak, and suggested Bob and I record the song together and sell it to raise funds for Iva’s Place, donating half of what we make from it to the shelter.  So during the summer of 2011 over several sessions we made a recording of the song which featured both my guitar and Bob’s mandolin, as well as each of us taking turns on lead vocals and singing harmonies.

Meanwhile, our friend Amy Given, a very gifted artist, was kind enough to offer to do the artwork for the song.  Amy created the beautiful artwork you see above.

The release of the song was delayed, though, because my mother was sick and in the fall of 2011 I moved back to Huntsville to help her and my dad.  Mom died in December 2011, and for the next year or so I was preoccupied with that, finding a job, helping my father, etc.

Earlier this year, though, my thoughts began to drift back to our recording of “You Are My Delight” and our plans to release it as a fundraiser for the women’s shelter.  Within just a few days after I had begun thinking about the song again I got an email from Bob saying he felt it was time to move forward with the song as well.  Rather providential timing!!  Since I had moved to Huntsville by that time, we decided to include the women’s shelter here as well so that my North Alabama friends might also feel inclined to participate.

So we got to work on the project again. There have been a lot of delays and some procrastination along the way, but at long last, the Official Release Date of “You Are My Delight” is finally here!!

How You Can Help

Bob and I put together an EP that includes 4 different versions of the song: The Official Version that Bob and I recorded together, Bob’s original demo version, my demo version, and an alternate mix of Bob and me playing the song together.  You can buy one or all of these versions, but 1/2 of what Bob and I make on each purchase will go to the two women’s shelters detailed below.  So the more versions you buy, the more money goes to the shelters.

So here’s how you can help:

1) Purchase one or more versions of “You Are My Delight,” or the entire EP. One half of what we make on each purchase will go to support Iva’s Place in Lenoir City, Tennessee and Hope Place in Huntsville, Alabama, (see below for more info on these shelters).  A preview of the song is located at the bottom of this blog post if you want to hear what it sounds like.

To download “You Are My Delight” on iTunes, click here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/you-are-my-delight/id723004498?i=723004720

To download “You Are My Delight” in mp3 form go to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-My-Delight-EP/dp/B00FQU9E9W/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1381461244&sr=8-6&keywords=bob+mader

NOTE: If you want to donate more money with your purchase, you can download the song through my Reverb Nation store.  On Reverb Nation we are allowed to charge more money per song, so more money goes to the shelters as well.  To download “You Are My Delight” on Reverb Nation follow this link and look for the song under “Singles”: http://www.reverbnation.com/store/store/artist_377501?item_type=music

2) Tell all your friends about “You Are My Delight.”  Here are some possible ways to do that:

a) “Like” our Facebook page and share it with your friends. https://www.facebook.com/YouAreMyDelight2013

b) Share this blog post on your Facebook page, Twitter, or by email

c) Share the info with your church

d) Ask your friends to tell their friends about “You Are My Delight.”

3) Listen to the song and hear its message for you personally. For the message of “You Are My Delight” is not just for victims of domestic violence. It is God singing His love over each of us.

4) Ask God to bless this fundraising effort, and pray for the women in these shelters, and for victims of domestic violence everywhere.

5) Support your local women’s shelter.

About The Women’s Shelters

1/2 of what Bob and I make on every download of “You Are My Delight” will go to support Iva’s Place in Lenoir City, Tennessee, and Hope Place in Huntsville, Alabama.  That means 1/4 of what we make on each download will go to each shelter.  Click on the links below to learn more about these shelters:

Iva’s Place

Hope Place

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below, or on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/YouAreMyDelight2013

The White House has declared October 2013 Domestic Violence Awareness month.  We hope that in some small way this project can help bring hope to victims of domestic violence.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Here’s a preview of “You Are My Delight”:

All content on this blog including this post (c) copyright 2006-2013 C. Morgan Trotter except where otherwise noted.

Did You Know It’s Still Christmas?

I can hear the groans already. “Still Christmas?? No! Please! I’m sick of Christmas!! Pleeeease let it be over with already!”

But actually it is still Christmas. You’ve heard of the “12 days of Christmas”? It’s more than just a song. On the church calendar Christmas actually does last through January 5. That’s twelve days. Count ’em.

In the old days this season of the church year used to be called “Christmastide.” Now I think they just call it the Season of Christmas.

The way we do Christmas in America contains a lot of irony. Technically, on the church calendar the Christmas season doesn’t start until Dec. 25. In America, though, Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier every year. When I was a kid, people started thinking about and decorating for Christmas after Thanksgiving. This coincided pretty nicely with the church calendar, because the season of Advent, which is sort of the build up to Christmas, a season of preparation and anticipation, begins soon after the Thanksgiving holiday.

But nowadays it’s not uncommon to begin seeing Christmas decorations in stores right after Halloween, if not before. (In a twist which almost seems indicative of two competing spiritual kingdoms, this past fall I heard that Halloween is the second most lucrative holiday of the year, behind Christmas.)

So by mid-November we’re already being treated to Christmas decorations, advertisements for Christmas toys, and even maybe an occasional Christmas carol interspersed in the ever-ubiquitous muzak. After Thanksgiving all the stops are pulled out, bringing the modern American Christmas frenzy into full swing.

It’s no wonder that this past Friday one of my colleagues at work was heard to say “I’m glad Christmas is over with. I’m sick of it.”

I didn’t listen to much Christmas music this year prior to the week of Christmas day. With two elderly relatives dying a couple weeks before and having spent the previous weeks waiting to hear of their fate, there just didn’t seem to be much room or inclination in my heart to think about Christmas this year.

That changed, though, when I attended a wonderful musical rendition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Clarence Brown Theatre here in Knoxville last Sunday. It made me realize I was becoming Scroooge-ish this year, and the delightful production helped revive the Christmas spirit for me.

So by Monday I was ready to hear some Christmas music. One of the local Christian radio stations devoted the entire month between Thanksgiving and Christmas to playing Christmas music, so carols weren’t hard to find on the radio.

Due to my work schedule I wasn’t able to be with family on Christmas day this year, but instead knew I wouldn’t see them until this weekend (Dec. 26-28). So this year I was thankful to remember that Christmas lasts beyond the 25th. Therefore as I was driving to work on the morning of Dec. 26, I was ready to hear some more Christmas music.

To my dismay I clicked on the radio to discover that the channel which had been blaring non-stop Christmas music the day before, and for an entire month previously, was now suddenly back to their regular playlist again. Not a Christmas carol to be heard anywhere! All that build-up, and now they were moving on as if nothing important or special had happened at all! Almost as if they, like everyone else, were sick of Christmas, too, and just ready to get back to “normal life.”

Bah humbug.

That’s when it struck me how backwards we have this whole Christmas thing. The four weeks before Christmas Day are supposed to be Advent, a time of waiting and anticipation and preparation (namely to ready our hearts to celebrate Jesus, not to wear ourselves out getting all set for the grand Gift Exchange). That’s supposed to be the build-up to Christmas. Then Christmas Day is supposed to be a day of joy and wonder at “what God hath wrought” in Jesus.

Instead, though, we’ve allowed it to become a time in which everyone works themselves silly buying presents, and wrapping gifts, and decorating trees and houses and yards, and staging parties (with one or more to attend every week, it seems), and…and…I’m out of breath. No wonder everyone’s sick of Christmas by the time Dec. 26 rolls around.

Bah humbug.

But I think that’s where the beauty and the pleasant surprise of Christmastide comes in, the fact that Christmas is a season and not just a day. Now that all the hustle and bustle is over, we can take a breather. Now we can take some time to actually reflect on the meaning of the holiday, because we rarely have time for that before the 25th.

I assume the Christian radio station quit playing Christmas carols on Dec. 26 out of ignorance. Sadly, even many of us in the church have lost touch with the rhythms and cadences of the church calendar. Being somewhat of a liturgical rebel myself I’ll be the first one to say I don’t think we should be legalistically bound to the church calendar. I think it adds freshness to our celebrations when we change things up from time to time and from year to year. This year it really helped me enjoy Christmas by not listening to or singing Christmas carols until a few days before the 25th.

But at the same time, when we’ve so completely lost sight of the fact that it’s still Christmas, then maybe it’s time to be reminded. To that Christian radio station, and to my friend at work, I want to say: “Not so fast. Let’s allow it to be Christmas a little while longer. I’m really just starting to enjoy it now. Let’s allow ourselves time to reflect on what Christmas really means.”

After all, if we can get past all the busyness of Christmas and remember what it’s really about, on some level wouldn’t we like it to be Christmas all year ’round? We only get sick of Christmas if we lose sight of the real point. It’s not about the tree or the presents or the parties or the snow we wish we had or the mistletoe or all the rushing here and there. It’s about love and peace and goodwill and joy. Those are things I’d like to carry with me through the year.

I have a friend who grew up in a denomination that didn’t observe the liturgical calendar. He discovered the church calendar late in life and has found it to be a great source of comfort and structure for his faith. This same friend makes a practice every year of wishing his friends “Merry Christmas” between December 25 and January 5. I think he’s onto something there.

So to all my friends out there I want to wish you a very merry Christmas, as well as a blessed and prosperous new year. And I hope you’ll take a little time between now and the 5th to continue to reflect on the meaning of this blessed season, when we remember that God became one of us in order to reconcile us to himself.

“…In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” – 2 Cor 5:19 (RSV). In recent years that’s become one of my favorite verses. It reminds me that God’s disposition toward us is not to keep track of our sins, but to do away with them, so that we may be reconciled to him.

Merry Christmas.