Reflections on Christmas Hymns

Posted by: RTBC Admin 1 week, 4 days ago

RTBC Members have submitted thoughts on their favorite Christmas carols. Please contact Debbie in the church office if you would like to add your thoughts about a hymn that means a great deal to you. (Christmas carol or otherwise.)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Latin Hymn, translated by John M. Neale

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

A Christmas hymn with its origins dated back from the eighth century, this song is rich with Biblical truths. This plea for Emmanuel is asking God to come and rescue us from the fallen world. Isaiah 35:10 and Jeremiah 31:11 refer to God’s people as “captive Israel.”

The song calls to mind the human states of exile, Satan’s tyranny, gloomy clouds of night, and sad divisions; while acknowledging that only the coming of our Savior can save us from our depravity. When He comes, we celebrate with great joy.

The song refers to Jesus as our Dayspring, or first light, a reference to Luke 1:78 – “the dayspring from on high hath visited us.” Consider watching the sunrise this advent season and dwell on the fact that Jesus’ birth marked the dawn of a new relationship between God and His people. He is now with them, in their hearts.

As you listen to this song, let your heart Rejoice, knowing that God came down from Heaven to redeem you and save you from the darkness and death of sin.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Lyrics by Charles Wesley

A prolific poet/hymn writer, Charles Wesley has given us a 3 verse gospel synopsis with his very England influenced pen. His 81 years spanned the 18th century.

As singers of this carol, we are transported to a night-time pasture scene in a small country dominated by Rome. The lowest class of men in that society has invested their lives in the care of sheep. A lone herald has appeared in the sky with the greatest news ever given-just for their ears at this moment. Announcing to these men, who are familiar with the ways of sheep, that The Creator of Sheep has come--a greater Shepherd than they could imagine. Stunned by the sudden appearance and music of a host of heavenly beings, we join the shepherds at this point of the beginning “Hark”--we listen as these truths are spoken in song about Jesus:

He is our King/Reconciler/Christ/Everlasting Lord/Incarnate Diety (man and yet God) Emmanuel-God With Us/Prince Of Peace/Son Of Righteousness/Conqueror of Death

He left heaven to bring us: Peace between God and man/Joy to entire nations/Life/Light/Healing/Forever Life With Him by the gift of Spiritual Birth

The first and last phrase of the hymn are the same: “Glory to the newborn King!” Our response matches the angels--“Glory to Jesus!”
Sing this song now to remember this beyond-description gift of God to each of us. Praise Him!

In the Bleak Midwinter

Christina Rosetti

My favorite Christmas song comes from a poem by Christina Rosetti written in 1872 called "In the Bleak Midwinter." You probably haven't heart of it, which is a shame.

If you want to hear it, "youtube" it with Choir of Kings College, Cambridge or if you want to read the lyrics, "Google" it. The imagery is wonderful, the theology is good, and the melody is haunting, but what I love the most about this song is the last verse:

What can I give Him?
Poor as I am
If I were a Shepherd
I would give a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part
Yet what I can I give Him
Give my heart.

Isn't that the bottom line? That is what God wants from all of us. Every day of the year. Not just on Sundays, not just at the Holidays.

Sometimes I believe we like to think that a "lamb" or money/tithe or______(you fill in the blank) would be enough for Him --- that that would be enough. It would certainly be easier and less messy.

People tend to also just give God part of their heart, either because they think that He wouldn't want to deal with that or we don't want Him to deal with a certain issue. But, God wants it all --- the good, the bad, the ugly.

Matthew 6:21 says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I am encouraged to give my heart daily, hourly, every minute if I have to, to the One who loved me first. So, we don't have to be rich or have an important job or be really talented to give God a gift. The best gift God could ever receive is your heart- every day.

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