What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste, to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary!
Another British tune for this New Year’s Day and the eighth day of Christmas. Though the lyrics date to the Victorian period, the tune itself was written in the time of Tudor court (yes, that’s Henry VIII and Elizabeth I). It is a very old and very loved song, that was given new life by these Christmas stanzas.
As the melody wraps us up in sweeping notes, the words cause us to connect the birth of the Christ-child with all that Jesus would grow to do. Most importantly, the ultimate sacrifice that Christ makes for his friends – showing us the path of love we are to take.
The second verse does this most poignantly, Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christian, fear; for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear, shall pierce him through; the cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail, the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary!
During Christmastide we are blessed to remember all that God has done for us. It should give us a sense of gratitude, but even more importantly renew our sense of new life. God’s own purposes made flesh, the Word through whom all of creation came into being, is the one that has shown us the way to live in this world.
On this New Year’s Day, as we make our resolutions, may we all resolve to better live into Christ’s new life in us. May we welcome better. May we seek justice more. May we love with complete and utter reckless abandon.
And may we join with the Wise Men, who will arrive at Epiphany, in this happy song: So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come one and all, to own him. The King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him. Raise, raise a song on high. The virgin sings her lullaby. Joy, joy, for Christ is born, the babe, the son of Mary!