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Sunday, December 16, 2012

1965 :: Star of the East

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shown round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:9-12

Once upon a time . . . back in the 20th century . . . the words printed above were read by a school-age narrator during the annual Christmas pageant in my hometown of Rockdale, Texas . . . this was a pageant traditionally held in the auditorium at Rockdale High School . . . I was an 8th grader (final year of Junior High) when the following excerpt from a full write-up regarding the 1965 Christmas pageant ran in the local newspaper . . . the Beverly and Joe mentioned below were my classmates . . .

The Rockdale Reporter, Rockdale, Texas, December 16, 1965. The Christmas Story will be told at 7:30 p.m. Friday by more than 200 junior-high school students when they stage their Christmas pageant in the high school auditorium. A highlight of the Christmas season in Rockdale in past years, the pageant will this year involve 211 students, according to Ernie Laurence, junior-high principal. The pageant will tell the story of the birth of Christ. Beverly and Joe will portray Mary and Joseph . . . The Rev. Frank Cady, pastor of St. John's Methodist Church and president of the Rockdale Ministerial Alliance, will give the benediction.

In previous years of participating in this pageant, I had portrayed an angel in the stable, kneeling at the manger . . . in 1965, I was a candlebearer . . . we wore white choir robes and were carrying lighted candles as we entered from the back of the auditorium . . . and we were singing Star of the East as we walked down the double aisles to the front of the stage . . .


Star of the East, Oh Bethlehem's star,
Guiding us on to Heaven afar!
Sorrow and grief are lull'd by the light.

Thou hope of each mortal, in death's lonely night!
Fearless and tranquil, we look up to thee!

Knowing thou beam'st thro' eternity!
Help us to follow where Thou still dost guide,

Pilgrims of earth so wide.

Star of the East, thou hope of the soul,
While round us here the dark billows roll,
Lead us from sin to glory afar,

Thou star of the East, thou sweet Bethlehem's star.
Oh star that leads to God above!

Whose rays are Peace and Joy and Love!
Watch o'er us still till life hath ceased,

Beam on, bright star, sweet Bethlehem star!

Star of the East, undim'd by each cloud
What tho' the storms of grief gather loud?
Faithful and pure thy rays beam to save,

Still bright o'er the cradle, and bright o'er the grave!
Smiles of a Saviour are mirror'd in thee!

Glimpses of Heav'n in thy light we see!
Guide us still onward to that blessed shore,

After earth's toil is o'er!

Star of the East, thou hope of the soul,
While round us here the dark billows roll,
Lead us from sin to glory afar,

Thou star of the East, thou sweet Bethlehem's star.
Oh star that leads to God above!

Whose rays are Peace and Joy and Love!
Watch o'er us still till life hath ceased,

Beam on, bright star, sweet Bethlehem star!

The Star Of The East 1918
Music by: Amanda Kennedy
Lyrics by: George Cooper
This song was originally published in 1883 as a piano solo reverie titled the Star Of The Sea. Almost 40 years later, Kennedy dusted the work off and reissued it with this new title with lyrics by George Cooper. Musically this song is identical to the 1883 work. All that is different is the addition of these lyrics and some repeats.

Updates . . . I had no luck in 2010 (when this was first posted on one of my other blogs) finding a decent version of someone singing this song . . . in 2011 I was able to locate a nice fiddle version, which has since been removed by the original contributor . . . so in 2012 I went searching again . . . and was delighted to find the following recording of Judy Garland (1922-1969) singing this classic . . .

I also found one by Slim Whitman but it was no longer available as of 2014 . . . so I found one done by a granddaughter for her grandma . . .

As of September 2017, Slim is back . . . 

 Merry Christmas, Y'all!

Monday, December 10, 2012

1748 :: Asa Barker

On this date in our family history . . . the 10th day of December . . . in the year 1748 . . . a baby boy is born in the household of Timothy Barker (1720-1752) and Mehitable Kimball (1720-1777) . . . he is given the name of Asa . . . and he is a 5th great-grandpa to the Keeper of this family history blog . . . this birth is recorded in the Vital Records of Andover, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Google eBook) as published by the Topsfield Historical Society in the year 1912 . . . 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

1692 :: Letter from Salem prison

On this date in our family history . . . the 5th day of December . . . in the year 1692 . . . Rebecka EAMES petitions Governor Phips as follows . . .

That wheras your Poor and humble petitioner having been here closely confined in Salem Prison neare four monthes and likewise Condemned to die for the crime of witchcraft w'ch the Lord above he knowes I am altogether innocent and ignorant off as will appeare att the great day of Judgment having had no Evidences against me but the Spectre Evidences any my owne confession w'ch the Lord above knowes was altogether false and untrue I being hurried out of my Senses by the Afflicted persons. Abigaill Hobbs and Mary Lacye who both of them cryed out against me charging me with witchcraft the space of four dayes mocking of me and spitting in my face saving they knew me to be an old witch and If I would not confesse it I should very Spedily be hanged for there was some such as my selfe gone before and it would not be long before I should follow them w'ch was the Occasion with my owne wicked heart of my saying what I did say: and the reason of my standing to my confession att my tryall was : That I know not one word w't I said when I was upon my Tryall att what the honoured Majestr'ts said to me but only the Name of Queen Mary: But may it please your Excellencye: when Mr Matther and Mr Brattle were here in Salem they disowned w't they before had said against me and doe still owne and say w't they has sayd against me was Nothing but the Divells delusions and they knew nothing in the least measure of any witchcraft by me: your poor and humble petition'r doe begg and Implore of yo'r Excellencye to Take it into yo'r Pious and Judicious consideration To Graunt me A Pardon of my life Not deserving death by man for wichcraft or any other Sin That my Innocent blood may not be shed and your poor and humble petitioner shall for ever pray as she is bound in duty for yo'r health and happiness in this life and eternal felicity in the world to come So prays. 
Your poor and humble petition'r
Rebecka Eames
from Salem prison
Decem the 5th: 1692

This Rebecka is a 9th great-grandma to the Keeper of this family history blog . . .

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