A new lease on life

At the beginning of a new year, a lot of people make
resolutions that are easily broken. They are looking for a new beginning. Let’s
take a look at where this old adage came from, and then at how we can really
have a new lease on life. This is an idiomatic phrase meaning a fresh start at a
happy, healthy or prosperous lifestyle after a period of upset, sickness or
adversity. It originally had reference to rental agreements from the early 19th

Out with the old, in with the new!

This is certainly an old saying that we have all heard
pretty much all our lives. We hear it a lot at New Years because of the picture
in our minds of the Old Year as a white bearded man and the New Year as a baby
in a diaper. But it always seems only a short while since we were going
through this before, so that analogy seems somewhat off to me. It is difficult to trace the absolute origin of this
cliché, but a similar phrase   first appeared in print in 1835 in a
traditional folk song:

It is good to be merry and wise, It is good to be honest and true,     It is best to be off with the old love Before you are on with the new.                                             

Robert Watson, in his 1919 novel, The Girl of O.K. Valley
used the lines together as the title of Chapter 11: Out with the Old, On with the New.

Silent Night

In 1816 a young Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr had
just gone for a walk. The Napoleonic Wars had recently taken a great toll in
his country. Mohr looked out over a quiet town on a winter evening
and was inspired with the peace he felt, and penned the words to this most
popular and dear Christmas carol. On Christmas Eve, 1818, Silent Night was first performed
as Stille
Nacht Heilige Nacht. Mohr
played the guitar and sang along with Franz Gruber, the choir director who had
written the melody.

Why do we say Merry Christmas?

The earliest known use of the term “Merry
Christmas,” dates back to 1535 when Bishop John Fisher used it in a letter to
Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII’s chief minister. Not long after that the English
song, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” was written, and the older term, “Happy
Christmas,” was all but forgotten, except by the British Royal Family. But the reason “merry” was likely used
by Bishop Fisher, and why it has become so popular, is because being merry has
to do with one’s attitude, not merely a state of being. Being merry denotes a
sense of merriment and festivity. By remembering the true meaning of
Christmas we should be joyful, which is another word for merry.

Lo and behold!

This somewhat archaic expression has a meaning like ‘Look! That is astonishing!’ It first appeared in English between the 8th
and 11th centuries in the  
anonymous epic poem, Beowulf,
at the beginning of Chapter XXIV:

      “BEOWULF, SON OF Ecgtheow, then spoke: ‘Lo and behold!’”

But both of these words were used in conjunction in the Holy
Scriptures. A similar context is found in the 1611 King James Version of the Old
Testament scripture text of Genesis
15:3, attributed to Moses about 3000 BC in words quoted as being spoken by
the patriarch Abraham even earlier. “And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine

mighty workings of God are truly something to behold! All we need to do to see
the presence of the Almighty is to look at all he has created and how complex
it is.

Happy campers

This modern metaphoric expression is applied to
someone who is content with their present situation, and is likely used sarcastically
in the negative more than the positive. In spite of numerous claims that it
originated on a 1982 episode of Silver
Spoons when Ricky (Schroder) and his grandfather went on a camping trip,
there are two flaws in this. First, it was already in use at least a year
earlier; second, the Silver Spoons
use is a literal reference to camping. Though it is likely that in a literal sense it
started in summer camps earlier, the first citation of the phrase ‘happy
campers’ in a non-camping context is from an article by David Bird in The New York Times regarding homeless men
in 1981:

is not a group of happy campers that
gets off the bus.”

There’s an old classic bluegrass gospel ballad which was
popular long before the introduction of this phrase. It was written in the 1930s
by E.M. Bartlett and Albert Brumley and originally recorded by the Chuck Wagon
Gang in February 1951 titled Camping in Canaan’s Land.

Don’t bury your head in the sand

This metaphor means not to try to avoid the inevitable,
especially danger, by pretending it doesn’t exist. The root of this comes from
a story written by philosopher Pliny the Elder (23-70AD) in Ancient Rome
suggesting that ostriches hide their heads in bushes. Later it was claimed that
they hide their heads in the sand and that they think if they can’t see people,
then the people are not able to see them. On Friday evening, 11 June 1858, Charles Spurgeon, one of the
most influential ministers of his day, used this illustration in his rousing
sermon, ‘A Free Salvation’ on the Grandstand at Epsom Race-Course in London:

“Did you ever hear of the ostrich? When
the hunter pursues it, the poor silly bird flies away as fast as it can, and
when it sees that there is no way of escape, what do you suppose it does?

Have a date with destiny

This is a cliché for an inevitable future event or encounter
which will likely prove to be of momentous importance or significance. The
earliest known printed citation is found on page 84 of Forensic of Pi Kappa Delta, March 1939, in an article by Rhodes
Scholar Jack Heires, Yankton, South Dakota:

“Whether or not we have a “date with destiny” we know that it will
require the mobilization of all of the facilities to cope with the problems of
this perplexed world into which we shall graduate.”

Note the quotes, signifying that it had been in use
previously, at least in speech. It was famously used by highly respected United Methodist
pastor, Rev. Ralph W. Stockman, in his 1943 address given before the American
Association to Promote Teaching of Speech to the Deaf which was titled “Our
Date with Destiny.” A book titled Date
with Destiny: A Preamble to Christian Culture, The Forbidden Lectures was
published in January 1944. After this,
use of the phrase spread to all facets of American society. All of humanity has a date with destiny at the close of this

At the eleventh hour

The basis for this idiom comes from the parable of the
Vineyard given by Jesus in Matthew
20:11-16, in which the workers hired at the eleventh hour, received the
same wages as those who were hired at the beginning of the work day. Since the signing of the armistice at the end of World War
I, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918,
the phrase ‘eleventh hour’ has come to prominence as meaning the last

A modern example is that of newscaster
Natalie Morales, who, on NBC TV’s Today Show on the morning of Friday, December
16th, 2011, announced, “An eleventh hour deal has been reached to
avoid a government shutdown ahead of tonight’s midnight deadline.” The deal,
however, proved short-lived and it was ‘back to the old drawing board.’

After Jesus conversation with the
Samaritan woman at the well in which he told her of her life and how the Living
Water would satisfy her longing, in John 4, His disciples admonished Him to get
something to eat. He told them He had food to eat, and that it was to do the
will of His Father. Then in verse 35, He told them that their saying, “It’s
still four months until harvest” was no longer true. “I tell you, open your
eyes and look at the fields.

Hope against hope

This old adage means to remain optimistic about something
when all the odds are against it. It is based on the New Testament letter of
the Apostle Paul to the Romans, 4:18:

all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…”

In one of the first known printed examples, Robert Hall, MA,
used it in an address to Rev. Eustace Carey on January 19, 1914 ‘on his
designation as a Christian Missionary to India.’ It is found on page 15:

“Hence the absolute necessity of a
vigorous faith in the promises of God, respecting the future renovation of
mankind, which will support you amidst the greatest discouragements, prompt you
to hope against hope…”

 Beginning in the
1840s it became very popular and was used in scores of sermons, books, poems,
etc. Trusting
God means that we have faith in Him no matter what is happening around us. Being members of this Holy Order means that we have likeminded brothers and
sisters who are here for us and will remember us in prayer. nnDnn,

Stan St.