Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Not the Nine Lessons and Carols... day eight

A couple of days ago I hinted at the fact that Christ - if he was born at all - probably wasn't born in December. So why do we celebrate on December 25th? See this post should you want to find out.

But another question arises: how long ago was Jesus born? We know that the calculation of the western calendar is a mess and that we're anything from four to six years out. (That's right - the Millennium was actually circa 1996!)

But the question of dating historical events is a fascinating one and here, for today's #Notthe9Lessons reading, is a wonderful extract from the writings of Bishop James Ussher, seventeenth-century Archbishop of Armagh, who set himself the task of calculating the age of the earth using only the Bible. The earth was created, he calculated, at 9.00 a.m. on Oct 3rd in the year 4004BC.

To be fair, he didn't have much by way of scientific data to go on. But here's how he set the birth of Jesus into its historical context. And, as we're in historical mode, following the lesson comes Christmas music as you've probably never heard it before, but as you would have heard it if you'd been going to church on Christmas Day about 700 hundred years ago. I think things may have improved just a little, not least thanks to the invention of polyphony. But it remains wonderfully atmospheric and a suitable antidote to those awful Christmas pop songs we keep hearing as we do our Christmas shopping...





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