O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant; O come ye; O come ye to Bethlehem! Come, and behold him, born the King of angels! O come, let us adore him; O come, let us adore him; O come, let us adore him, Christ, the Lord!
Today we move into the final three days before Christmas. What a better way to set the mood than to begin with one of the most glorious hymns of praise in our book. It is also one of the best known Christmas hymns and, like Hark the Herald and Once in Royal David’s City, this song has often been associated with protestant services of Lessons & Carols. However, it was originally written for the Roman Catholic Church in the 18th-century. Nevertheless, it continues to be overwhelmingly popular and is sung in both English and Latin – Nat King Cole has a remarkably exceptional version (see below).
What is particularly beautiful about this carol is that in the midst of the joyful and triumphant lyrics, there is some wonderfully descriptive language of who this child of Bethlehem is. He is the “King of angels,” the “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.” And in the often missing second verse, there is a lot of direct quotation from the Nicene Creed.
Though all of these titles and descriptors are important, the key one is the Word made flesh. Unlike the gods of old, who were known for the qualities that made them “greater” than humans, our God has chosen to take on the flesh of God’s creations. It is a unique trait. It displays how incredibly important we are to our Creator, not only in our spirit, but also in the physical bodies that God formed from the dust.
This is why any spiritual practice we have, including worship, should always lead to tangible actions that serve “bodies” – ours, our neighbors’, our world. God’s arrival as a child draws our attention again to the need to care for that which and those whom God has made. In doing so, we embrace the child we have come to worship.
So let us take this Christmas as an opportunity to worship Christ with our whole lives, even as we join the angelic strain: Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning; Jesus, to thee be all glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing! O come, let us adore him; O come, let us adore him; O come, let us adore him, Christ, the Lord!
Reverse Advent Calendar: Each day during this season (or next year’s season), purchase a $5 gift card to grocery and home good stores, as well as restaurants, and then donate them to a local shelter.