Great Joy and Great Mirth

…God’s perfect desire is that all would know how loved they are. 

On Christmas night all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring; on Christmas night all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring: news of great joy, news of great mirth, news of our merciful king’s birth.

This British carol was set in its current “traditional” arrangement by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is a lilting tune that lends itself to dancing merrily as we join the song all Christians sing. For it is our joy and our mirth that the merciful Christ-child has arrived.

The hymn points out important aspects of God’s work in the world. First, that we should no longer be sad for our redeemer has arrived and will free us from our sin. It goes on to suggest that this sin will depart because of Christ’s grace, and life and health will quickly come. Finally, in the midst of darkness we will find the Light which begins (and perpetuates) our song.

Though we cannot ever be without sin in this life, the promise of Christmas is that Christ’s own grace will continuously transform us into the whole person God always intended – even if the work is finished beyond this life. This is good news – for our broken world often gives us plenty of reason to despair. The beauty of God’s redemption is that it is based upon God’s desire, not our fallen one. And God’s perfect desire is that all would know how loved they are.

In a world fearful and rending itself asunder, giving into shadows, we are also called to spread this Christmas message of love to the whole world. And this hymn offers a blessing for the road ahead of us: All out of darkness we have light, which made the angels sing this night; all out of darkness we have light, which made the angles sing this night: “Glory to God in highest heaven; peace on earth and goodwill. Amen.”

Sussex Carol

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