Have yourself a Chinese little Advent…

For students of Chinese, here’s something to read during Advent 降临节: text from the four Gospels mashed together into a single Christmas narrative, then divided into four readings. If that doesn’t make you cringe, then you obviously weren’t paying attention in Intro to Exegesis. But we’re not doing exegesis here, we’re reading the Christmas story in Chinese! (Five different Chinese translations!)

Download: 圣诞节1.pdf / 圣诞节2.pdf / 圣诞节3.pdf / 圣诞节4.pdf

I read one per week during December. The hard copy is nice, but I also drop the text into my Pleco. It’s the same deal as we did with the Resurrection Festival 复活节 (a.k.a. “Easter”) readings. Download the PDFs below or read online by clicking the BibleGateway.com links.

Download: 圣诞节1.pdf

Zechariah is going about his priestly duties when an angel appears to him, saying that his barren and aged wife Elizabeth will have a son. Zechariah doesn’t believe it and loses his ability to speak. Elizabeth gets pregnant. Meanwhile an angel appears to Mary and Joseph separately, saying Mary will conceive. It’s awkward, as they aren’t married, but Joseph chooses not to break their engagement. Pregnant Mary visits pregnant Elizabeth and sings a song praising God.

(Read Chinese or English parallel online: 路1:5-38; 太1:18-25a; 路1:39-56)

Download: 圣诞节2.pdf

Elizabeth’s child is born, and the name him John. Zechariah, no longer mute, speaks a prophecy over John about John’s future role and the coming of the Messiah.

(Read Chinese or English parallel online: è·¯1:57-80)

Download: 圣诞节3.pdf

Joseph and very-pregnant Mary travel to Bethlehem for the census. They settle in a stable since there’s nowhere else to go. Jesus is born. Angels appear to shepherds, and the shepherds go visit Jesus.

(Read Chinese or English parallel online: 路2:1-20、25-35)

Download: 圣诞节4.pdf

Wisemen from the East come looking for Jesus and inadvertently alert King Herod. They visit Jesus but avoid telling Herod Jesus’ location. Jesus’ family flees to Egypt, Herod orders the Massacre of the Infants. After Herod’s death, Jesus’ family returns and settles in Nazareth in Galilee.

(Read Chinese or English parallel online: 太2:1-23)

Lots more Christmas-in-China fun on this blog. You can start with these:

[Photo Gallery:] Chinese Christmas Art

The images in this gallery come from two sources: the website of contemporary Chinese artist Dr. He Qi, and a collection of pre-Liberation Chinese scroll paintings by various Chinese artists at the USF Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History (thanks to pcNielsen of The Aesthetic Elevator for the link). Both sources have lots of interesting non-Christmas stuff as well, like the Chinese boy Jesus practicing Chinese characters, and Guanyin-esque cloud-floating Marys.


Traditional Chinese Christmas Songs: 《欢乐佳音歌》 & 《圣诞感恩歌》

A couple Christmases ago we shared mp3s of traditional Christmas songs that had been Chinese-ified. This year you get some genuine Chinese Christmas songs, as in songs written by Chinese in Chinese and in a Chinese style, rather than sounding like corrupted English songs. The first song is especially good for language students; it’s so repetitive that you only have to learn four lines.

I tried to find well-produced recordings of arrangements that would sound good to Western ears, but each link below fails on one or both accounts (this is not surprising for a lot of traditional Chinese music). But the point is that it’s a Chinese song anyway, so you get what you get, which in this case is 10000x tamer than the inebriated felines of Beijing opera.

Mouseover the Chinese below to see the pronunciation. My translation is veeery rough.

《欢乐佳音歌》 Joyous Tidings

#83 in the TSPM hymnal (赞美诗)
Listen: here and here.

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
锡安全地报道救主已降临 耶稣基督甘愿卑贱救众人
Zion the whole earth announces the saviour has come,
Jesus Christ willingly humbly rescues everyone

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
普世万民齐来传扬主降生 赐下救恩万众信徒蒙恩深
All the people in all the world, come spread the news that the Lord is born,
bestowing salvation, multitudes of believers receive profound grace

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King
信徒大家恭敬献上感谢心 天军同唱哈利路亚满天庭
All believers respectfully offer God thankful hearts,
sing hallelujah together with Heaven’s hosts filling Heaven

欢乐圣诞佳音大家来歌唱 耶路撒冷欢呼弥赛亚为王
Joyous Christmas tidings, everyone come sing, Jerusalem hails the Messiah as King

《圣诞感恩歌》 Christmas Thanksgiving

#84 in the TSPM hymnal (赞美诗)
Listen: here and here.

耶稣来人间 神爱世人 / Jesus comes to earth, God loves the people of the world
主为救人类 道成肉身 / The Lord saves humanity, ‘The Word becomes Flesh’
天使唱赞歌 颂主下凡尘 / Angels sing praise, an ode to God who came to earth
神恩真浩大 比海还要深 / God’s grace is truly great, even deeper than the ocean

当年主降生 牧人闻讯 / When the Lord was born, shepherds heard the news
前往伯利恒 朝拜圣婴 / Went ahead to Bethlehem to worship the holy infant
归来乐无限 报告主降生 / Come back with unbounded happiness, reporting the Lord’s birth
全城都传开 基督已来临 / The whole city spreads the news, Christ has come

救主来世界 赐人和平 / The Saviour comes to the world, bestowing on people peace
马槽里安身 四周宁静 / In a manger taking shelter, all around is tranquil
我们感谢主 得闻此佳音 / We give thanks to the Lord, hearing these good tidings
效法三博士 献上一片心 / Imitate the Three Wisemen, offering up hearts of thanks

赞美主降生 万众欢腾 / Praise for the Lord’s birth, universal celebration
我们今得着 神子名分 / We now can have the status of God’s children
生活有盼望 从此享永生 / Life has hope, from now on enjoying eternal life
美满又幸福 全靠主鸿恩 / Blissful and blessed, completely depending on God’s great grace

The coworker who introduced me to these says that both are homegrown Chinese Christmas songs, though I think I hear some traditional Western hymn-i-ness in the second one especially.

Anyway, if you’ve got Chinese Christmas music, please share!

More Christmas music:

For your karaoke repertoire:

Merry… something, from Tianjin! :)

Midnight on Christmas Eve 2009 in Tianjin, China (they call it “Peaceful Night” 平安夜):

If you put New Year’s, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day and the commercial side of Christmas into a blender and then reincarnated the unappetizing mush into an overpopulated midnight carnival, you’d have Christmas Eve in Tianjin. Clowns, stage shows, blowing artificial snow (soap-sud machines), a countdown to midnight (pictured above), and a bunch of foreigners performing Christmas carols (us) were all out two nights ago among the masses and their blinky, battery-powered headgear. In between our two performances on stage there was a choreographed Michael Jackson dance routine by five 5-foot tall pelvis-thrusting minors who looked way too young to be grabbing the front of their pants that way in public (pictured left).

Random strangers occasionally asked to get their picture taken with us, since we’re foreigners. We obliged, of course, and I got my revenge when I saw this line up of 90-pound Santas:

But it was all for a good cause. A local company decided they wanted to get into the real spirit of Christmas by holding a fundraiser for the Special Education Project. They aggressively hawked these LED Christmas candle things all day and night to the throngs of people on Tianjin’s two busiest outdoor shopping streets, which is Christmas Eve Central for T. The two girls pictured on the right had me and a friend cornered before we had a chance to tell them we were with the group they were raising money for.

Since we’re associates of the N.G.O. that was receiving the money, the company asked us to put together some songs for before and after the midnight countdown. We had a group of carolers, which included some of our local friends and students, two guitars and a flute. They wanted us to get the crowd into it, and below you can see the line of police in front of the stage holding back all our rabid 粉丝. Ok, maybe they’re not actually our fÄ›nsÄ«, but they were in a good mood and it wasn’t hard to get a response from the crowd; all we had to do was show up. They’re supposed to play part of it on TV today, so I may have finally made it on TV in Tianjin. :) Here’s our the helmeted crowd control:

It didn’t actually feel all that Christmasy, but at least it was something to mark the day. Actually, packing into an apartment with a bunch of friends (Chinese, German, Brazilian, Canadian, American) earlier in the evening to practice the songs over snacks and coffee wasn’t a bad way to spend a Christmas Eve. For two of my students it was the first time they’d done anything to celebrate Christmas, so that was kind of special. A few more photos below (none of these photos are mine; I was too busy playing guitar).

All these blobs are the blowing artificial snow soapsud bubbles (it looked cooler in real life):

These are the LED things they sold for the fundraiser:

If I can find any photos of us on stage, I’ll add them below when I get them.


Friends who also wrote on this surreal experience:

[2010 Jan 08] Here we are in the newspaper:

The caption says:

The other day Tianjin TV’s “Art & Entertainment Food 8 Street” news column at Heping Lu business walking street held a groundbreaking special evening party, not only was there brilliant cultural performances, also can’t count the many different kinds of interactive games spectators were invited to participate in. Additionally, foreign volunteers working in Tianjin from the USA, France, Italy and etc. countries also got on stage and sang impromptu songs for the audience. Newspaper reporter: Cao Tongshe

Of course, we didn’t have anyone from France or Italy, but hey, who’s counting?
[2010 Jan 18] Finally got hold of some shots of us on stage:

Other Christmas and Christmas-in-Tianjin posts:

Christmas doesn’t have to be Made In China

And now for Christmas. To set the mood, behold! the photo on the right: this church in Tianjin has Santa and reindeer painted on the side… in August.

Two December’s ago, we brought you some disarmingly cute Third-Culture Kids from Africa making their point in a Target store.

Last December you just got a nice poem, though I was sorely tempted to post this video of a guy who crucifies Mickey Mouses and tries to exorcise the demons of out WalMart signs.

This year, it’s a slick little video from the Advent Conspiracy. Thank God your Christmas doesn’t have to be Made In China, or any other nation’s sweatshops:

Having a “christmas” that is Made In China and making Christmas in China — and everywhere else — are two different things. Thank God. And Merry Christmas!

(Thanks Miller and Steve for digging this one up. And for you Canadians: we’re not off the hook. Here’s the Canuck version.)