Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall; oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the babe is Lord of all. Swift are winging angels singing, noels ringing, tidings bringing, Christ the babe is Lord of all.
This medieval Polish carol was first translated into English in the early twentieth-century. It is a gentle lullaby through which you can hear the echoes of the angels’ songs as they fall over one another throughout the melody.
The first verse sets the stage of the Christ-child’s arrival in order that, in the second verse, the very first visitors can arrive. Though it has been quite popular to focus on the arrival of the Magi, it was, in fact, the lowly shepherds who first heard the gospel message. Even more important, these often forgotten people were sought out by God, whereas the Wise Men were able to figure out the signs for themselves.
The reminder of this and many of the Christmas hymns is that ours is a God who intentionally seeks out the “least of these” – the overlooked, the lost, the forgotten. It is not the great and powerful through whom God chose to come into this world, but a poor family who were greeted by other poor laborers in their rejoicing. Perhaps it is time for us to remember that while we may see Christ in the face of all who we meet, our God is even more present in those on whom the world has turned its back.
Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new; saw the glory, heard the story, tidings of a gospel true. Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow, Christ the babe was born for you!