“Upon a winter night,
Was born the Child, the Christmas Rose,
The King of Love and Light.
The angels sang, the shepherds sang,
The grateful earth rejoiced.” Gesu Bambino Frederick Martens, music by Pietro Yon
My younger brother died three years ago on the day after Christmas or Boxing Day or the Feast Day of St. Stephen. I still miss him.
This Christmas Eve as I am preparing in the early morning to go to the eight o’clock service, I heard on our National Public Radio Station (NPR) a piano arrangement of Gesu Bambino. This is Italian Christmas Carol with O Come All Ye Faithful for the chorus with the music written by Pietro Yon and the lyrics by Frederick Martens.
Suddenly I feel my brother’s presence. My brother sang this as a solo at a Christmas program when he was ten or eleven in the basement of the Baptist church in our hometown, West Point, Virginia. He was taught Gesu by the minister’s son, Bobby Pleasants, who also was an organist and my piano teacher. I wonder where he is now. I give thanks for Bobby for the gift he gave me today by teaching my brother to sing this etheral Christmas anthem so many years ago. I see and hear my young brother singing like a cherub in the candle light, lifting his head and his eyes as he strains for the high notes, singing with all his might.
This is a Christmas gift from my brother. He was physically very strong. I have many mobility issues. This Christmas Eve we have four services at St. Mark’s since this has been a short Advent with the fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve falling on the same day. I have been so concerned whether I can physically serve as the deacon at all of these services where almost a thousand people will attend. This morning I am empowered. I feel my brother and his strength beside me. I have no doubt that this is something I can do.