See, I am doing a new thing! – Isaiah 43:19
So, 2023 has begun. In February I will turn 70. As in, “seventy years old.”
Seventy years old!? When did that happen? Seems like I was just getting adjusted to the idea that I am a grownup now. Even after having taught for several years, there were still times in my classroom when we were having so much fun learning that things got a little out of hand, I would think, someone should take control here, and I would suddenly remember I was the adult, so I’d better start adulting.
My adult life has been full of “firsts,” but by 2022, I wasn’t expecting many more, at least not positive ones. However, the Lord still had a few “firsts” in store for me – three that I can think of:
1.) Seeing good friends I had never met before.
I had already been surprised at how important and time-consuming blogging had become, and the number of fellow bloggers who would become friends, although I had never met them. In February, when we were spending time in Sanibel Island, Florida, I opened a blog post by “Russlings of the Spirit” to see a photo of a seashell that was very familiar. As I read the post, I realized Russell was, at that moment, about half a mile down the road from us! I let him know we were in (on?) Sanibel, too, and soon after, he, his wife Joan, and I were sitting by their pool, telling stories of our lives and God’s faithfulness.
In December I got an email from Mark Brady, letting me know he and his wife April were coming to Louisville for Christmas. He had told the family there was only one thing he insisted on doing while there, and that was to visit the church I had repeatedly (and apparently effectively) bragged about on my blog. So, on Christmas Day, I met Mark and his wife at the church visitor’s center, worshiped with them, and then talked about God and writing afterwards.
2.) FINALLY! A published song!
The 1980’s was my songwriting phase. Although I received much encouragement and support from friends, it seemed that seeing my songs published was not to be… at least not then.
But more recently, as the Christmas choir at my church was at their first practice of the year and warming up with “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” the director commented that he loved that song and wished that there were more than two verses. The songwriter in me was resurrected, and I thought, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I prayed for inspiration …
I have always loved Christmas carols that tell the whole story of the gospel, not just the part about the cute little Baby in the manger that gets put back in the closet in January and not thought of until the next Christmas season. As I thought about the meaning of “come,” I realized, we’re not waiting for Jesus to be born, that’s happened already. And we’re not waiting for Him to rise from the grave, either – that’s happened, too. Now we’re waiting for His promised return! I wrote two more verses, careful to write in the same style as the first two. I wrote verse 3 about who Jesus is, followed by mention of the Resurrection. All of verse 4 is about the Second Coming and the final destiny of “sinners saved though faith alone.”
The first Sunday in Advent, there it was! All four verses were squeezed between the lines of music, and at the bottom of the page, fine print said, “vs. 1&2 Charles Wesley, vs 3&4 Ann Aschauer.” I smiled at seeing my name right next to Charles Wesley’s. Most of the people didn’t notice, and I got a bang out of that, too. Just my little secret, hidden in plain sight. I later got a note from the pastor saying he hadn’t noticed until someone pointed it out to him. Before that, he had assumed those verses had been there for the past 200 years, like the first two. (I refrained from telling him I’d been there for the past 200 years, too.)
For anyone who’s interested, here are the third and fourth verses:
Vs 3: Come, Thou whom the prophets promised, Thou of whom the cantors sing; Come, Emmanuel; God, be with us, Thou, our Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus, Thou art all perfection, Thou whose fellowship we crave; Thou the Life and Resurrection, Come redeem us from the grave. vs 4: Come, O King, and claim Thy Kingdom; With the angels split the skies! With a shout and trumpets sounding, Bid Thy sleeping children rise. Gather in Thine arms so tender Sinners saved through faith alone; Lead us in Thy heav'nly splendor Unto our eternal home.
When the “Old Louisville Christmas” was held, that song was again in the program, and again I got a thrill hearing the members and guests singing the words God had given me. At the last verse, when the musicians stopped playing, and 700+ people sang a cappella in 4-part harmony, I got tears in my eyes. Thank You, Jesus!
I’ve shared these verses with friends from other churches and told them the lyrics hadn’t been copyrighted, so they were free to add them to their own singing of that song, if they liked. I love the idea of “my” lyrics being sung all over the country. Maybe all over the world. So, dear readers, feel free, too.
Besides meeting two fellow bloggers face-to-face and seeing “my” lyrics in the church bulletin and hearing them sung by hundreds of people, I had another big “first” in 2022,
… which I’ll share next time.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Prayer: Lord, Thank You for coming that we might have abundant life at any age. Fifty years ago, I would not have imagined having so much fun now, but it shouldn’t surprise me that the Creator of all things always has something interesting and new. Thank You! In Jesus’ name, amen.