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Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Annunciation to the Shepherds - Govaert Flinck and Thomas Cole, Bach - Christmas Oratorio, In the Bleak Midwinter - Christina Rosetti

For art study the month of December I'd like to cover paintings with the birth of Christ as the subject and specifically of the angels making their announcement to the Shepherds.  I found about a dozen paintings, a fresco and a flemish minature. You can look at them or copy them using my Picasa Web Album to Paintings of the Annunciation to the Shepherds  or  Google Images has many interesting paintings of this subject if you want to choose your own.  I generally chose older images and ones that gave the artist's name.  I'd like to feature two paintings each week so we can cover ten during December. It was interesting to see the wide variety in how people imagine the story.  Some see angels as women or even cherubic children, others as men or generic, most have wings and are in light of some sort.  Some view the angels as far away in the heavens, others with them up close giving their news.  The animals in the scenes vary greatly as do the styles of dress for the shepherds and the background vegetation and shelters.  It might be a fun project to read the story aloud to your children from Luke 2 and have them illustrate it before you study the paintings.  Then again late in the  month or early in January after we have studied these 12 paintings you could have them draw or paint again and see how their ideas have changed. You might also have them act out this scene. If your children are older they might enjoy designing a needlework, clay figures or a quilted project depicting the story.  If you like how their projects turn out you could get them copied (photographs can also be made and copied) and made into prints for cards to send to friends and family.

Let's start with Govaert Flinck's The Annunciation to the Shepherds.
 The link for this painting has interesting information on this artist and painting.
Govaert Flinck - The Annunciation to the Shepherds

And a painting by my favorite American artist, Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole

This month I'd like to feature classical music for Christmas.  This week we'll listen to Johann Sebastian Bach's  Christmas Oratorio (in English)     This is just the beginning of the oratorio.  If you'd like to listen to the whole thing it is  here beautifully done, but not in English.

I'd like to recommend an advent devotional called Joy to the World.  You can download it free on Amazon.  It features a hymn and it's background story each day and has a link to a youtube rendition of the song, followed by a short prayer.  

One of my favorite Christmas poems by Christina Rossetti this week:  

          In the Bleak Midwinter 

 By Christina Rossetti
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

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